A Serendipitous Scene in Smyrna

Do you ever have one of those moments when you know, without doubt, that God has a sense of humor? We did this weekend.

Wayne and I were on our way to a rehearsal for Tara Winds, a symphonic band we’ve been honored to perform with this season. Some of our rehearsals are at a high school in Smyrna, but we don’t go there as often as we do other sites. Needless to say, we forget exactly where we’re supposed to turn to enter the school the back way. The reason this is important is so we can access the rear parking lot, which makes getting to the band room a short walk rather than a rather long one through the high school proper.

After two wrong turns, both of which (Wayne claims) were caused by a weak signal and an infuriatingly slow GPS system, we stopped to get our bearings. Tempers were a little hot because we were running late, but they were still well below nuclear reactor meltdown level. (We passed that the fourth or fifth year of our marriage.) It was then that I looked over and saw this street sign on the corner.

For those of you who don’t know. my maiden name was Hill, and, yes, Wayne’s last name (and now mine) is Hughes. Both are fairly common, and while I have seen each of our surnames on street signs before in various cities, I never ever ever have I seen the two of them intersect!

Naturally, I screeched a la Natalie Wood in Miracle on 34th Street. You know the scene? It’s the one where she sees the house she asked Santa Claus for (the one with tire swing in the tree), knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that it’s hers, and screams, “Stop, Uncle Fred! Stop!!!”

I shrieked. Wayne stopped, more than a bit nonplussed as to why I was scrambling out of the passenger seat with my phone in hand, running towards an intersection. However, when he looked up and saw what had caused my brief stint of absurdity, I heard his goodnatured laugh erupt from the car (the one that makes the corners of his eyes crinkle up in a way that melts my heart).

Well, I got out and took a few quick snaps to send to my family. I then hopped back in the car and started thinking about how the sign was a perfect symbol of our marriage. There was a lot of road work around it (as you can see by that jaunty construction orange sign in the background), which is fitting considering all the metaphorical rough road we’ve traveled together. Also, both signs were a little worse for wear (especially Hill Street, which I thought both humorous and apropos). Yet, the two of them were still upright, still screwed together (read that however you wish), and proudly sure of which way(s) they were headed. Not a bad situation at all when you think about it–for the signs or us. Perhaps what Tolkien says really is true, “All that is gold does not glitter, / Not all those who wander are lost; / The old that is strong does not wither, / Deep roots are not reached by the frost.”

Duct Tape Really DOES Fix Everything!

A week or so before Christmas, there was a family sitting on a corner in our neighborhood. They were holding posters covered in pictures of their dog that had run away a day or so before. They were on that corner most of the day, even into the twilight hours, and they flagged over anyone who looked half interested in helping them keep an eye out for her.

The next day, these little signs, smaller versions of the posters, showed up on trees and telephone poles around that same intersection and up and down the other nearby streets. Each one had at least four color photos and was in a sheet protector to keep it clean and dry. There are quite a few folks in our area who have dogs of their own and make use of the tree-lined sidewalks both morning and afternoon canine constitutionals, naturally keeping their eyes (and noses) on the lookout for the MIA hound. I’d also like to think that more than one Twilight Bark was sent out to aid in the search, but as I’m human, I’m not privy to that dependable line of communication.

Anyone who has had a pet run away can tell you it is a gut wrenching experience. Traffic, other animals, cruel humans, and the elements—any of those things can harm a critter used to “three hots and cot” in a home where they’re loved and cared for. Sometimes, a kind person finds them and brings them home; other times, they wander back into the yard of their own accord.

However, more often than not, the four-legged members of our families don’t make it back. In fact, according to the American Humane Society, over ten million pets are reported missing every year, and only 17% of lost dogs and 2% of lost cats are ever returned to their owners. Our dog, Shadow, who passed away in 2010, was an old fella by the time the pet microchip came out. His digging under the fence and chasing squirrel days were long behind him. However, I couldn’t imagine owning a dog today without having this device, especially in a large city where thousands of animals go unclaimed and are put down. There are quite a few companies who sell the chips for less than $100, and they can be implanted by your veterinarian. After that, they need to be registered in state and national databases so your buddy can be returned to you, and that registration needs to be updated every time you move. It really requires little to no effort, and it more than doubles the chances of finding your lost pet.

I just wanted a reason to put a picture of Shad Shad in a blog…

I don’t know about you, but the sight of those handmade “Lost Dog/Cat” posters always breaks my heart because I remember what it was like to wait for a cat that never came home. (Shadow also vanished a time or two, but he was never gone for more than a few hours. Still, that was not much fun for little Harpo if you know what I’m saying.) What makes it worse for me is when those posters continue to hang, week after week, until they’re so soaked with rain they disintegrate and fall from their tacks or shrivel up like a mummy and fade in the blistering heat. Eventually, they all disappear, and I never know the outcome of the story. I try to imagine the positive in all cases, but I know that statistics don’t lie.

However, with the Yorkshire Terrier in my neck of the woods, I saw something I had never seen before. A few days ago, each and every one of the signs were still hanging there, with one addendum, a huge piece of duct tape on which the phrase “We Found Her” was written in black Sharpie marker! I’m no graphologist, but judging by the jaunty, bubble shaped letters, I can imagine the girls who got their dog back were pretty John Brown thrilled about it. 🙂

The courtesy of this gesture touched me deeply. Not only was I happy beyond measure that that dog was home with its family,  but I was also grateful that a group of people cared enough to update the status of their situation in a simple but obvious way. As far as I’m concerned, that sign can stay up forever. It reminds me that happy endings are possible and that kindness both exists and is rewarded.