Topic: "Birthday Memory" (4)
Gumbo was a mixed-breed terrier, thrown from a passing car. The frightened dog spent the next several days hiding from any passing stranger. Sam was determined that cruelty would be treated with kindness, and did everything possible to encourage the little creature to come out and accept food and water. Fear is difficult to overcome, and just when it seemed that nothing more could be done, the little dog took the risk of its' life and crawled out to accept Sams' gifts. Thus was born a relationship of fidelity which lasted well beyond the next decade.
Gumbo may have been small, but she was fearless whenever the perception arose that Sam was under threat. The most ferocious of snarls and the most ominous of growls would be presented to any stranger approaching too close, or without a proper introduction. In those days Sam's Mother was very ill with breast cancer, and Frodo was often occupied at Mount Doom, unable to join in the frequent and long trips to the bedside. Frodo did not fear for Sam's well-being because of the presence of her defender, the tireless Gumbo. Many was the befuddled wayfarer who offered to pet "the cute puppy," and found himself in the sights of a guided missile, disguised as a dog.
When Frodo's father succumbed, Gumbo joined Frodo and Sam in the long trek to the land of Frodo's birth. While services were being conducted, Gumbo had to remain in a strange house, all alone, instead of being on active duty at the side of Sam. While Sam and Frodo were long-delayed at the graveside, Frodo's Uncle "Junior," remembering the little dog, back at "the house," all alone, and probably under severe distress left earlier than most. The former Marine, wounded at Okinawa, drove back, all alone, in order to free "the cute puppy." The gentle giant of a Man swept the dog up in his arms and carried her out into the yard. He stayed with her while she performed her required duties, and the two of them probably talked for quite some time about Frodo and Sam.
When everyone else arrived, the two were now fast friends. Sam, who worried all the way from the cemetery about how long the dog had been alone, was moved to tears by the two new friends, and the kindness of Uncle "Junior." For many years after Gumbo's demise, and whenever Sam and Uncle "Junior" got together, they would speak of their tiny friend. Sam loved Uncle "Junior," as did Frodo.
One-half-an-hour into Frodo's birthday the suffering ended for Uncle "Junior." Grieve not, dear reader, for Frodo, and the seeming inequity of death borne on the shoulders of celebration. Frodo will remember this man, every year, on his own birthday, and celebrate a life that Frodo admired as long as he can remember. Every year, on that date, Frodo will toast Uncle "Junior," and fill a small water bowl for the little dog who walks with him; of this, Frodo is very sure.