Helen Whittaker and Donna Gagnon Pugh

Helen Whittaker




Donna Gagnon Pugh

Things We Should Know

Inspiration piece

In one old photograph — 1930s black faded into 21st century white — a little girl smiles and holds a shaggy old mutt with long legs and beady eyes. His name was Toby.

“I loved that dog,” my mother says and turns the ragged page in the old photo album.

We study the Remington typewriter in a picture of my grandfather’s office at the cookie factory. I remember looking forward to visiting my grandparents so I could press those round, yellowed keys to produce short messages where all of the ‘e’s looked like ‘o’s.

“He was a mean old bastard. Never showed any affection.”

I look up from the album. My mother doesn’t share easily. In her world, life has always been simpler lived on the surface of things.

“He never told me. The dog ran away. That’s what I thought. Maybe it’s what my mother said.”

A tear moves noiselessly down my mother’s wrinkled face. I take her glass and pour some wine. Her hand shakes as she drinks.

“It was the car. He hit Toby. My sister Ellen told me the night before I married your Dad. Buried the dog under the willow tree. I used to play there.”

The last photo in that old album was taken at Niagara Falls. There’s a black iron railing and my grandfather. I raise my hand as if to push and my mother laughs.

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  1. Posted May 28, 2011 at 4:15 am | #

    Haunting photo…powerful story. Nicely done!

  2. Posted May 28, 2011 at 9:38 pm | #

    Thanks, Linda! 🙂

  3. Posted May 29, 2011 at 12:49 am | #

    Thanks for your lovely comment, Linda.

  4. Posted May 29, 2011 at 9:55 am | #

    which ever way you look at it – the dog is dead…

    well done, DonnaInkFlow!!!!