“Bone Love,” June 18, 2018

I had a dog once. His name was Tuffy. I didn’t name him. His name is one of a few things my children can’t blame me for. Tuff was a Sheltie, a miniature collie. He looked, I thought, like Lassie’s little cousin, only not as well groomed or smart.

He was a good dog, patient and longsuffering. He put up with a lot. He kept fit running figure-eights, carving a 3-inch deep race track in the yard. He loved meat, but didn’t get to eat it often. At our house there was never much left but bones. But Tuff wasn’t picky. He loved bones as much as meat.

I wish you could’ve seen him.

If you gave that dog a bone, there was no getting it back. He simply would not let it go. I know this because my oldest delighted in trying to pry steak bones from Tuffy’s jaws. The boy would huff and puff and pull his hardest. The dog would growl and snarl and dig his paws into the dirt. But the bone would never budge.

That’s how I came up with the term “bone love.” When you love something or someone “to the bone,” nothing — not years or miles or life or death — can take that love away from you.

I usually reserve “bone love” for people I hold dear, family and friends, or readers who write to tell me to keep writing. But I also apply it to certain places: The Blue Ridge Mountains of the Carolinas, where I grew up. The Mojave Desert outside Las Vegas, where my husband and I spent the past 12 years. And the coast of California, where I’ve lived for most of my adult life.

Last week, we said goodbye to Vegas, and moved back to California, to the house where my children grew up and the yard where Tuff buried bones. My first husband and I bought the place as newlyweds. I wanted to live in it forever. But after our kids grew up and their dad died, living here alone wasn’t nearly as much fun.

Years later, when I remarried, my new husband and I planned to make it our home. But his job changed, as jobs often do, and we moved to Las Vegas. Fortunately, we kept the old place and rented it to people who took good care of it. When he retired, we decided to move back “home” to be closer to the people and the places that we love “to the bone.”

So here we are with sore backs and achy knees, surrounded by mountains of boxes. Still, we know it was the right decision.

This house sits on a street-to-street lot with neighbors on all sides. Most of them have lived on this block almost as long as I have. All week, they’ve been welcoming us home. Myra, who lives behind us, brought snickerdoodles. Myra and I raised our kids together, my three and her four. She knows I love snickerdoodles to the bone.

When I go to the market or post office, I get unsolicited hugs from people whose names I can’t recall. It’s like a family reunion without the fist fights.

My husband played music twice this week with old friends, and plans to play again soon. When he isn’t playing music or unpacking, he’s blowing bubbles in the yard with our grandkids.

He makes me stop unpacking to drive a mile (we could walk, but I’d need to be airlifted home) to the beach for sunset. We watch waves crash on rocks, while tourists snap photos and the sun sinks into the sea. Then we go unpack more boxes. I’ve never seen him happier. He might say the same of me.

It’s such a gift to be with people you cherish, in a place where you feel at home, doing things you love to the bone.

Today, in the yard, I recalled a memory: My kids playing hoops. Birds singing in the trees. Fog rolling in off the bay. Tuffy running figure-eights.

The memory made me laugh. Tuff and his race track, like so many loves I’ve treasured, are gone from this world. But I still love that dog to the bone. And nothing can take that from me.

 

Comments

  1. Helen says:

    I never miss reading a new column from you. You are a wonderful writer and
    your columns always bring a smile to my face. Enjoy those precious grandchildren.
    So happy for you and your husband. 🙂

  2. I was so happy when I discovered your writings again on the website.
    I had followed you for so long when your articles were in our local newspaper then after your first husband died it seemed the articles did too.
    I love your writings and wish you only the best in your journey going back home.

  3. Liz Rea says:

    I know you and Mark will continue to have a wonderful life together back at the coast. Enjoy it all so you can keep sharing with us your special comments. Thanks.

  4. Shashi says:

    Touching story of first ❤️!! Love that stays for ever. It is hard to find loving people in this world but it is even harder to spread love.
    Thanking again for spreading love. Stay blessed !!

  5. Sally Brown says:

    Wish I was your neighbor….I love YOU to the bone!

  6. Anne Davis says:

    Welcome home, dear friend–or shall I say dear “bone”?!

    Hoping to have a sighting of you somewhere around town soon.

    Love,

    Anne (as in Anne and Paul)

  7. Kate Sciacca says:

    Hmmm…. why did I picture Judy Garland clicking her red ruby slippers and repeating “there’s no place like home… there’s no place like home…there’s no place…”. Such a blessing for you to be back in your Kansas 😀 Drink in the memories…. as you enjoy a good Napa Cabernet 😉

  8. Jody Burke says:

    We love your words To the Bone Sharon,,,You never fail to make me smile,,,

  9. Welcome home, Sharon! Neva and I hope you enjoy your resettling into your new old house to the bone.

  10. Jan Roehl says:

    Welcome back from me too, Sharon. I’m a neighbor on Granite Street and have read your columns through the years. How could you have ever left PG? I guess that’s wrapped up in your phrase “of all places…”

  11. Theresa Phillips says:

    You always make me cry . . . in a good way. Like when I watch Little House on the Prairie and cry.
    You touch my woman heart in such a way that only a woman whose a wife, mother, daughter, mother-in-law and grandmother would understand. You help me remember who I really am.
    Thank you so much for the happy tears. They are a great reprieve from the stresses of life.
    Never stop writing to us, I love your columns “to the bone.”

  12. Susan Vordermark says:

    Awww. . I remembered sweet Tuffy and Mira’s snickerdoodles . Glad you are “home”. Love you. “Suz”

  13. Pamela Dailey says:

    I love your columns I look forward each week to reading them. You are a great story teller. Please keep writing and sharing your life stories with us your devoted readers. Have a great day!

  14. Elaine Turner says:

    Your stories make me smile. A good thing!

  15. Jeanie Anton says:

    Welcome back, Sharon. I hope I run into you at Grove Market one of these days. 😎

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