Ladies and gentlemen, it’s a cool, cloudy November morning as I slowly stroll over to an old water pump that was faithfully employed by Roushes of a bygone era.

As a crisp breeze blows on this morn, I grip the handle of the pump, close my eyes and think about how my Great-Great-Great Uncle Sigel Roush had also clutched that handle many times before he passed away in 1954 at the age of 92. As my eyes open, I see the familiar cottage with an old DeSoto parked in the driveway. A warm feeling permeates through my being as I knock on the front door of the home of the man who was a doctor, dentist, world traveler, educator, pilot, author and newspaper columnist.

“Ah, good morning, Steve,” the distinguished looking, slender gentleman says as he opens the door.

“Good morning, Doctor Roush,” I say with a smile. “Do you have a few minutes for a house call?”

“Of course,” Uncle Sigel replies. “What’s on your mind, son?”

As I take off my jacket, I say, “Well, since we talked last time, my wife and I had to bury our beloved 13-year-old furry friend. Since then, we adopted an adorable little lab we named Scarlett, but we still miss our Bacall.”

We both take a seat, and as I relax, the good Doc, in true fashion of many Roushes of yore, tells me a story.

“I remember a little boy who loved and lost his canine pal who asked his parents if he could give some flowers to the church or a certain Sunday, ‘in memory of his dog,’ and have it printed in the church bulletin, like grownups do in memory of dear ones they have lost,” Uncle Sigel begins. “The parents didn’t have the heart to refuse him, and promised to ask the church authorities for permission, which they did, but were promptly refused. The
little chap was told of the decision with whatever extenuating excuses his parents could think of.

“But Bobby was not satisfied; he could not understand why flowers to his beloved dog could not, with proper propriety, be placed on the altar of the church that he, with his parents, regularly attended.

“And thinking it over, I found it wasn’t difficult to see Bobby’s point of view. True, it wasn’t the usual thing, the formal thing to announce in the church bulletin that ‘the flowers today are given by Bobby Smith in memory of his faithful dog, Rover, who met an honorable, but tragic death a few months ago.’ And yet I see nothing at all in the procedure the least bit
sacrilegious or absurd. Bobby loved Rover devotedly; they were almost inseparable pals; their love was mutual; on more than one occasion Rover had protected Bobby from possible harm; theirs was that most beautiful of attachments, the devotion of a trusting child and the unquestioning allegiance of a faithful dog.

“Then Rover met with a tragic death, and Bobby’s heart was overwhelmed with grief, his first great, stunning grief, too deep for tears, too awful for words.

“Bobby sought the haunts of his playfellow in foreboding silence. For days, his eyes were hollow and dry. And then while fondling the pallet in the pantry where Rover slept, the floodgates were opened and Bobby wept bitterly, wept coursing and comforting tears that bring relief to the aching heart. It was then that Bobby thought of flowers, and was refused – was refused the comfort and privilege of publicly acknowledging his loyalty and love for his canine pal.

“Bobby saw nothing incongruous in this; on the contrary, to him it seemed perfectly proper, for were not flowers a touching reminder of those whom the donors loved? Was it not a beautiful custom? Did it not cultivate tenderness, love and devotion?

“True, Rover never went to church, but this made no difference with Bobby. Nor did Rover ever question Bobby’s creed or religion. No, Rover was only a dog, a faithful, trusting dog. There were no conditions to his love for Bobby; he was just a devoted pal, happy and contented with his little master and always ready and willing, if need be, to lay down his life for him.

“Sometimes I think, had I been the deciding authority in the matter, I would have granted Bobby’s request. But, of course, to exhibit flowers publicly in church in memory of a mere dog would have been ridiculous, wouldn’t it?”

I smile as a tear runs down my cheek, “Many thanks as always, Uncle Sigel. I think it’s time I find some flowers.”

As the good Doc returns a comforting smile, I open my eyes, my hand resting on the handle of the old water pump on a cool, cloudy November morning.

Steve Roush is a vice president of an international media company and a columnist and contributing writer for The Highland County Press. He can be reached by email at roush_steve@msn.com.