I Created an Artistic Masterpiece…
For Ginger

Ginger and I were at Hobart Animal Clinic seeing her vet, Dr. Bernacchi, who also is my psychotherapist. Ginger has a chronic case of inflammatory bowel disease. Dr. Bernacchi had sent her down to Purdue Veterinary Animal Hospital twice in the last couple of years. I have danced with death twice over a dozen years ago. Those potentially dances resulted in waking me up to the reality that my clock is ticking. It was transformative, even though it took me a couple of years to realize it.

I was having dinner with Mike Schmitt, who I hadn’t known before that. A mutual friend suggested that the two should get together. After dinner, Mike asked me whether I had ever seen Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture, which I hadn’t. Mike sent me the link. It was an hour and sixteen-minute video. I watched it, but it didn’t take me more than five minutes to realize that I had changed. Now, I understood the impact upon me when I cracked my head on a masonry wall, aka a subdural hematoma. A negative experience changed my mindset in a most positive way.

Along with seeing life radically different than I had, it also changed my relationship with Ginger. She also had two visits to Purdue University Veterinary Hospital due to her medical condition. I love Ginger and am very protective of her. Her medical issues have intensified my care for her. We both are aware that our clocks are ticking.

However, we have had some significant thunderstorms recently. As thunder rattles the sky, it rattles Ginger even more. When she hears thunder, she goes to her crate in an interior room without windows. It is the place where she feels safe.

When we go to bed, Ginger and I will talk with each other before nodding off. When she thinks that I am asleep, he will go to the foot of the bed to sleep. In that way, she would be able to protect me from an intruder.

In the past couple of weeks, there have been a handful of times that she would hear thumber. As a result, she would jump on me as I slept…all 83 pounds. A couple of times, she landed on my legs. It was painful to be awakened in that manner. Amid the agonizing discomfort, I would wonder whether my legs were broken.

I would move her off me as I tried to assure her that she was safe, and I would protect her. She seemed uncertain that I would be able to provide protection for her. As we talked, I mentioned Benjamin Franklin went outside during a thunderstorm with a kite and a Leyden jar. He wanted to collect electricity from lightning striking his kite. I showed Ginger the Currier and Ives lithograph of Franklin’s experiment.

This is a painting by Currier and Ives depicting Franklin’s experiment.

Ginger looked at the lithograph and pondered over it for several minutes. Then she mentioned that I could be Franklin and that she could be the little boy. Her comment was like a lightning bolt that flashed through my brain; I had an idea. It took me fifteen minutes to create a tweaked version of the Currier and Ives lithograph.

Impatiently, Ginger waited. Then I presented Ginger with my artistic masterpiece. She was impressed and said, “I knew that you taught art history, but you are an artist also. Thank you.”

Always wanting to go the extra mile, I framed my masterpiece and put it on Ginger’s crate. In that way, she will remember that I will always protect her even during the storms of life and the 4th of July celebrations.

Ginger was ecstatic. “My crate is like the Louvre or the Uffizi Gallery.”