An excerpt from something I’m working on about our good neighbors (the guy riding the bike is 82 years old; Jane is my youngest daughter, a tiny toddler at the time of this anecdote):
I slow to turn up the driveway. It’s a dirt two-track, and long ago recovered from the cement truck ruts – although 45 years on, Arlinda still grumps about the construction foreman who promised to fix the driveway and never did. The drive is a good half-mile long, cut through a cornfield. Wavering bicycle tracks are visible in the sandier patches. In fair weather, Tom pedals out to fetch the mail. Recognizing where we are, Jane raises her gaze and uncorks her thumb. “I can feed Cassidy a bone?”
Cassidy is the Hartwig’s three-legged dog. Took me a while to figure that one. For the longest time I thought the name an unusual choice. Tom and Arlinda, the type of people they are, you think they’d go for something more in the vein of “Shep,” or “Buster,” or even, “Ol’ Hound.” (My brothers Jed and John, in their own way younger versions of Tom, have named their dogs Jack, Frank, Leroy, and Sven.) You will get a sense of how my brain floats when I admit that it took two years and a quiet moment alone before the epiphany struck: Cassidy…Hopalong Cassidy! I was alone at the time, but I said “HA!” right out loud.
We are grateful for our elders. Especially if they like a good long-term three-legged dog joke.
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