Her name was Surely.
I do not jest.
Almost in tribute to her Biblical roots, Surely followed my dear uncle all the days of his life.
He had been formulating his plan for his dogs’ names for years. While he liked dogs and treated them well, his real goal was to be able to tell the tale of his dogs’ names. His brainchild was to get two more motley-bred dogs. He would have named them Goodness and Mercy.
Uncle David was a legendary storyteller — both within and outside our family. He was the kind of funny that would leave you weeping. Even within our family, Uncle David was the best, and I come from a family of storytellers. Whether he was re-enacting makeshift cheerleaders from a women’s softball game, who in no uncertain terms, told Mable Lee McMurphy to straighten out the foul balls she repeatedly kept hitting. Or maybe it was his re-telling of the exploits from decades earlier in Mrs. Carr’s science class. Or how he won a college scholarship to play the bass drum in the college band. Yet he had never had one day of music lessons or band experience in his life.
Whatever story he chose to tell, we all stopped what we were doing and sat mesmerized as he wove the magic great storytellers weave when they tell their tales. I remember, as a little girl sitting with my cousins, and all of us begging him for more. I think about all the tidbits and anecdotes my cousins and I absorbed through Uncle David’s stories. They passed down family lore and life lessons that we just wouldn’t have gotten any other way. Through them, we not only learned to listen, but we learned how to tell tales of our own.
My cousins and I remain actively grateful for the time spent around the table or in the living room listening to the generations ahead of us tell us about how things used to be.
About 12 years ago, my phone rang late one night.
It was one of those calls that you never forget. You answer it thinking it’s just another inconsequential call, and it ends up changing everything. My uncle David died suddenly and unexpectedly from a pulmonary embolism.
He passed away, with Surely by his side — but no Goodness and Mercy. His death was such a shock and left such a void in our family. More than a dozen years later, my dad still mourns his younger brother.
We all do, in fact.
In honor of my uncle, my parents got a new dog. My dad named him Mercy.
A few years later, he got another one. He named her Goodness.
Both dogs look a lot like my uncle’s old dog, Surely, who died a few years after Uncle David.
Goodness and Mercy keep my parents company and, since they’re both rather ferocious looking, they do a fine job of protecting the place, as well. But even more than that, they’re also a constant and subtle reminder of my dear uncle.
If you ever make it to my dad’s small farm, you’ll see him walking around the grounds.
Goodness and Mercy follow close behind.
My uncle’s story continues.