Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

On Leather Belts and Baseball Bats July 17, 2014

It’s time to come clean about something. I have this thing with baseball bats. Mom and dad noticed it for the first time last year when dad started playing in a weekly softball league through our local recreation department. He would practice his swings and I would bark. It probably doesn’t sound like much, but for a dog who (literally) only barks at other animals when I see them on the television, this is a big deal. He would swing and I would bark. Coy Wiley

While my bark is certainly larger than my bite, I will be honest. I have my reasons. The man with the leather belt that causes me to run in fear at the sight of leather to this day (even though I know my dad would never hurt me) also liked to play baseball. He had a collection of bats, and one time when he was really (really) drunken, he whacked me with one of them. Or maybe two. I’ve tried very hard to push this out of my mind, but that’s the thing about cause and effect. Sometimes the cause has an effect whether we like it or not.

For me, that means I (to this day) fear leather belts and baseball bats. I know it’s funny, since I know in my heart no one in my current life would ever even consider the possibility of hurting me like that. But sadly that doesn’t erase the past. I see him, the man with the leather belt, with the baseball bat and I cringe inside. It doesn’t matter who might be swinging the bat, I simply can’t stand it.

So tonight when mom took dear baby Carter to dad’s softball game, I was relieved to be left behind. That never happens, mind you. I always (and I mean always) want to go wherever my people are going. Not tonight. Tonight I was happy to stay put, alone with my thoughts and reflections. It’s not such a bad thing to do from time to time, regardless of the reason.

For me, it was a reminder that everyone needs some time to reflect every now and then. Joy. From the ground up, it happens when life brings reality to moments, good or bad. In my case, I’ve learned from the unfortunate events of the past to embrace the exciting possibilities of the future. I’m no fortune teller, but I know there is fun in store.

 

It’s That Time Again August 9, 2013

Hot dogs. You’d think as a dog I would love them. You’d think as a lover of all things people food and meat related it would be one of my most favorite things. You’d be wrong.

I was reminded of it today while I kept mom company at the grill. I was in a very happy place and lost myself in the moment as I deeply inhaled the fabulous smell of people food cooking on the grill. She was grilling steak, chicken, corn and potatoes, but she wasn’t the only one grilling in our neighborhood. Somewhere nearby I smelled them. Hot dogs.

That’s when it happened. I closed my eyes and I saw him. The man with the leather belt. I flashed back to his idea of an ideal Friday night in. I’ll never forget how he would completely ignore his daughter Jo (my person at the time, and one of my most favorite little people ever). He would make a whole package of hot dogs for dinner and eat the majority of them while drinking a six-pack of beer and watching baseball on the television in the living room. I would keep poor Jo company, since he wanted nothing to do with her during his manly time.

I’ve never cared much for baseball. I’ve been known to bark at the television when people swing the bats (which is unusual for my typically silent self). I’ve even barked at dad when he practices with his bat in the backyard. I don’t like baseball bats, and I don’t like baseball. And I have my reasons.

But I kind of love American football. More specifically, I love Green Bay Packers football. Not particularly because I like watching it on the television, but because of everything it involves in my forever family. That’s why mom was grilling all of that delicious food (which you’ll note did not include hot dogs). She was going overboard, as dad says she always does, to prepare for a big night of Packer football. (Which I noted was incredibly unusual since it’s a Friday night rather than a Sunday. But I’m not complaining).

The thing I love most about it is it wasn’t that big a night to be fussing about. It is the first pre-season game. My man Aaron Rodgers only played for one drive for crying out loud. But it didn’t matter. We all got gussied up in our Packer jerseys, I got a couple samples of mom’s steak, and we watched the game together as a family. Go Pack Go!

I think that’s why I love football so much. It brings the people I love together (plus I get yummy treats). There’s so much joy in our home during those three hours. And, in case you’re curious, we lost. 17-0. It was kind of brutal. But that didn’t scare the joy away.

 

Man’s Best Friend June 16, 2013

Man’s best friend was lost on me in puppyhood. I have been blessed with more than my fair share of loving motherly types in my life, but I’ve had somewhat a drought of father figures.

I never met my biological father. I hated him for it every day I watched mom struggle to provide and make such short ends meet. My time with her was a gift and I wouldn’t change a bit of it for myself. We had fun, we didn’t go hungry and we always had a (somewhat warm) place to sleep. But I hated him for leaving her to do so much all by herself. And I wonder sometimes if he would have been in the equation if we would have all gotten separated on that fateful day so many years ago.Dad and I

My path in life would never be the same after we got separated. And wow, can a change in scenery can change your perspective on things. I went from not having a dad to having a string of them who were terrible to me. The worst (by far) was the man with the leather belt. I shudder to think of all those times I tried to protect Jo (the man’s daughter) from him, and the chaos and pain that made up the aftermath. To this day, I have a somewhat obsessive fear of leather belts, baseball bats, power tools and laundry baskets.

These pieces of my past remain in my present but that doesn’t change my current outlook on things. I’ve learned a lot along the way about the strength we have in perseverance through the tough times. Through each struggle we emerge stronger, better, and more equipped to take on the next mountain in life.

Man’s best friend was lost on me in puppyhood, but all that has changed now thanks to the current father figure in my life.

Today is Father’s Day in America, and for the first time in my life I have someone to celebrate. I know getting a dog was mom’s idea, but my forever dad is the one who found me online at the Oshkosh Humane Society. He’s the one I play with, wrestle around with and prefer to snuggle up to at night (mom gets too warm). He doesn’t say he loves me nearly as much as mom, but he doesn’t have to. I can set it in his eyes when we’re playing, when we have an epic love fest (usually when mom’s not around) and even when he talks nonsense to me. He loves me more than he’ll ever admit. And he has restored my faith in the concept of man’s best friend. I love you dad.