“Come here Charlie darling. It’s time for your treats as well dear.” Who knew dogs could have Epilepsy? Minnie thought he had thrown out his back the morning of his first seizure. Poor thing would just stare straight ahead not moving. And then the seizures. Horrible seizures. The last and most difficult part for Minnie was watching poor Charlie flop like a fish on his side shaking for many long minutes. She could do nothing but sit helplessly on the floor next to Charlie and hold his head while his little black and tan body rumbled and rolled. He was her fifth child wrapped in fur she liked to say. A Dachshund rescue with Epilepsy; little Charlie required his meds each morning and each evening stuffed in his favorite chewy treat. Carried by his Toulouse Lautrec legs and happy always to see his Minnie Charlie lifted his front paws to Minnie’s knees to lean on her and eat the tasty chewy treat he knew to expect before each meal.
After breakfast the two went out the back door by the kitchen to face the Lake and greet the new day. There really is nothing like the beauty of the morning sun as she dances up over Lake Dora. Even the morning air is sweeter. Minnie took her tea to the yellow Adirondack chair Frank had made for her and placed under her favorite tree. It was the family Wishing Tree. Here by this tree was where Minnie and Frank shared their first kiss, where Frank proposed to Minnie and she thought he was joking and said no the first time, and where each boy was named: Frank Jr., Arthur, Johnny, and Brian. Minnie eased gently into her chair and watched as Charlie bound about on the dock. He was never allowed by the water’s edge. Not in Florida as gators like to make a tasty morsel out of dogs so Minnie had to teach Charlie to play on the dock and lay there in the afternoon when he felt the need take a nap outside. The Lake was exceptionally calm this morning.
Minnie, would you like to join my family on a picnic by the lake this Saturday? I know I would like that. Frank was always direct in his requests with Minnie.
I can’t Frank. I don’t know how to swim.
Come now that can’t be right. You’ve lived here all your life and you’re telling me you don’t know how to swim? If I didn’t know better Minnie Collins I’d say you’re trying to beg off my invitation.
No, Frank. I really can’t swim. I never learned.
All the more reason to say yes as I will teach you to swim better than all the fish in all of Lake Dora Miss Collins.
Yes. I will.
And if I say no to your invitation Frank Poppe?
Because Miss Collins, there is no one as sweet and funny and stubborn as you and nobody else I want to teach how to swim.
Minnie never knew what to say when Frank used his sweet words on her. Blast that Frank. Nobody else had that way of talking to me.
Off to the beach by the Lake they went that Saturday along with Frank’s mother Gertrude, his father Howard, and his sister Eunice. Each took their part in setting up the picnic table: lay out the dishes, the cutlery, napkins, open the basket of cheese and butter sandwiches, set out the bread pudding, carrot sticks, cucumber pickles, and lastly to sit down and say grace together:
For this meal we are grateful, Lord. Please bless the ones who grew the grain for making of this bread, for all they had to do. Bless those who made and cooked this food, whose eyes and hearts and hands Show vision, love and laboring that each one understands. Reveal Thy Word to us, O Lord, for it is just and good, and walk Thou in the harvest fields. Give us our daily food. Amen.
Are you ready for a swim Miss Collins?
No, Frank. I am not.
Good. Let’s go change into our swimsuits.
I don’t want to.
Aw come on Minnie. I promise it won’t hurt a bit.
Minnie Collins, do you mean to tell me that a little ol’ thing like water is going scare the likes of you? Why I suspect that right now as we speak fish are swimming away in fear for the knowledge they have of you coming in for a swim.
I hate you Frank Poppe. Fine. I’ll change.
The water was cool on their feet as they dangled off the dock. Minnie could not believe how easily Frank convinced her of things. How sure he is of himself. And so calm. She suspected she might like this Frank more than she wanted to admit.
Alright now Minnie just ease into the water. I’ll jump in first and you come in and I will hold you. With that Frank slipped off the dock into the water.
Clumsily Minnie let herself slide into the water and Franks’ waiting arms. He put his hands around her waist and explained how to gently float on her back.
Don’t worry Minnie. My hand is on your back. Just breathe Minnie. Look out at the trees on the shore. God is in the trees Minnie. Relax and just breathe. It took no time at all for Minnie to trust Frank and before she knew it he was standing by her side; watching her float on the water. Swim lesson number one. Minnie remembered herself and began to giggle and lose her balance and stood up again.
That was fun Frank! I want to do that again. Please Frank, please?
Ok Miss Collins. Now don’t get all excited ol’ girl. We haven’t commenced to swimming yet, he said with a confident smirk on his face. Minnie splashed Frank with water and there they stood smiling, eyes shining each one taking in the other.
Morning had fully arrived by the Lake now. As she drank the last of her tea Minnie called out, “Charlie, come now darling. It’s time to see Dr. McGrath.”
To be continued….