Christmas Eve was always special for me as a kid. Family would show up and we would have a traditional Polish “Poor Man’s Meal.” Basically it was a very dry fish (sole I believe) served with pierogis and lots of sausage and kraut. Who was I kidding. I was and only child and I just wanted everyone to eat their shitty food so we could go upstairs and open up the damn presents. Things changed forever on that cold and blustery Christmas Eve in 1985.
This was my first Christmas Eve away from home and my family. I got into radio in the summer of 1985 and that changed the way I would celebrate the holidays. More often than not I was away from family. Christmas Eve 1985 found me in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I was two hundred and eighty-five miles away from my childhood home in Strongsville, Ohio. There was a terrible snowstorm that day and I was very sick. I had a fever and was alone for the first time on Christmas Eve. I called my mother to wish her well on the dinner and celebration she was about to have.
I got my first dog when I was in second grade. She was a collie. I named her “Lady.” Lady was my companion from the second grade on. Being an only child Lady was the closest thing to a sibling I would ever have. I was on the phone with mother that Christmas Eve when I heard the doorbell ring in the background. Mom explained she had to go as company was beginning to arrive. Something was not right. Something was missing. My dog would ALWAYS bark when someone rang the door bell. I stopped my mother before she could hang up and I asked in desperation, “What the hell is going on? Why is Lady not barking???” The pause seemed endless. Mother then took a deep breath, hesitated and said “Ya know when ya left in August and said I would know when it was time……..” There was a momentary lack of reason that filled my head. Suddenly it was clear to me…..Mother had killed my dog.
To this very day Mother will deny this ever happened. That’s what parents do as they get older. They develop selective memory and like to rewrite history. That was a long time ago yet it seems like it was yesterday. When your door bell rings this Christmas Eve and I hear your dog barking I can be rest assured you have never met my Mother.
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