The Loss of Our Dog and Bernadette of Lourdes

Our family dog died on July 6th and my family was devastated. Buster had been what I liked to call our sole source of love and joy for fifteen years. A beagle mix, we had rescued him from the local Animal Rescue at eight months and he never failed to delight us. My son had been visiting my oldest daughter for the 4th of July weekend and was not at home. The partner was at the neighbors and I was returning from the shop with the middle daughter behind me. I was the one who found him lying on the bedroom floor where he often slept. I could go into the whole business about grieving for a beloved pet, but it really isn't necessary. People who love their animals understand the feeling if they've been through it.

That was Sunday. On Tuesday, I asked my son, who had returned from his visit to come with me on a picking trip to Canajoharie and he acquiesced. We both felt the emptiness in the house without our dog and needed to get away.

There's a little strip of shops on the main drag in Can, a once thriving industrial community thanks mostly to the Beechnut Factory. The factory has since closed and moved to a nearby location and though they did stay in the vicinity, the effects of its leaving can be seen and felt in the little town.

Brothers of Industry is run by a couple of African American brothers who seem to have their hands in just about everything. They are nice guys and I've known the one brother for a while since he used to sell advertising for the local Dollar Saver. He now runs the little deli next to the Brothers vintage shop. His brother was not in, but he opened the door to the vintage shop and allowed my son and I to browse by ourselves.

There were a few things I liked, mostly vintage fabric and some incredible Victorian cast iron fence post finials, but I didn't find that one stand out item, so I ended up going to another shop, which I knew was more expensive, but the owner's taste is exquisite despite him often smelling of alcohol.

My son nearly tripped over a stone garden statue of a woman kneeling in prayer that was sitting in the middle of an aisle at the back of the shop. I looked down and there she was, Bernadette of Lourdes, Patron Saint of bodily ills and illness. The artist had painted her eyes with a tortured longing that was frightening, yet compelling at the same time. I fell in love with the chipped statue and asked the shopkeeper what he wanted for it, certain that it would be too expensive.

"Forty-five dollars. I just moved her from the front window and she's extremely heavy and I'm tired of lugging her around."

I said "would you consider forty?"

He agreed without hesitation and with a hand cart pushed her out to the truck for us, not smelling of alcohol for once and obviously relieved that he would no longer have to move her.

She sits on the floor of my shop now, hands clasped in earnest, looking toward some ethereal sight above her. My son didn't say much when we purchased her, but on Sundays when the small businesses on the walkway open up to an outdoor market, he carefully places her in the front of my shop. We still miss our dog so much, but the trip was good for both of us. We connected in a way we hadn't for a while, felt grief and felt hope through the purchase of Bernadette.

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