The following is reprinted from April 2014.

 

Jimmy went into depression after his mother died of cancer. Only someone who has gone through it can know how it is. Then he was given a cute, pudgy puppy that looked a lot like a teddy bear, and he named him “Bear.” Bear was a most unusual dog. He could ride a tricycle. He slept in the room with Jimmy, and he felt and understood Jimmy’s sadness. 

In a short while, Jimmy came out from under the dark cloud of depression. Bear had put purpose and companionship into his life. Animals can talk to you with their eyes, and Bear was good at that. Jimmy owned an old, but trusty, pickup truck, and he began to drive it once again. Bear was always on the seat beside him. Jimmy was able to smile again, and he found his appetite that had been lost for some time. He had a good friend, Ed, who kind of kept an eye on him, making certain that he was all right. Ed lived in town, but Jimmy was all country.

Jimmy had gone from good times as a young person with a good mother and father to bad times because of a wife who did him wrong, and the death of his father, then good times with his mother, followed by bad times at her death. 

Bear came into Jimmy’s life, bringing back good times. Bear bonded to Jimmy much the same as would a son, and Jimmy responded with love of his own to Bear. The two were inseparable, never being without one another.  

Trouble was, Jimmy’s house was located a little too close to a curve in the highway. Jimmy was aware of the danger posed by fast moving automobiles, both to himself and Bear. He had built a roomy pen with a comfortable doghouse for Bear for the rare occasion when he went somewhere that he couldn’t take Bear with him. All other times Bear ate, lived and slept with Jimmy in Jimmy’s house. 

After several years, Bear had grown into a big middle-aged dog, off-white in color, and Jimmy had put a little obvious age on himself. Then, once again, bad times came knocking on Jimmy’s door. He gradually grew weak and a little bit frail. It was cancer. Eventually he was taken to the hospital, and Bear had to go into the pen, and a good friend came to feed and water him every afternoon. 

It seemed that Jimmy’s only concern was Bear. He missed him terribly. And it’s for sure that Bear pined for Jimmy. He’s bound to have been lonely and confused. Dogs can’t understand hospitals and sickness. Jimmy was a fighter, but the dragon inside him began to win the fight. His time was near. 

One afternoon when the friend came to feed and water Bear, the big dog burst by him as he opened the gate. He had stood it long enough. He had to find Jimmy. In his excitement, with his nose to the ground trying to pick up Jimmy’s scent, he ran into the road. An oncoming car couldn’t stop in time. Bear died a few minutes later.

The friend debated whether to tell Jimmy. The next day, as Jimmy listened to the bad news coming from his friend, tears streamed down his face. Very soon after, Jimmy gave up the fight and went to join his father and mother ... and Bear.  

One of my closest friends, Bill, is a retired combat decorated U.S. Marine who fought in Vietnam. Times were good for him as he grew up on his family farm in Pennsylvania. Like me, Bill milked and fed cows, cut, baled and hauled hay and worked many other farm chore responsibilities, all of which, combined with his father being a strict disciplinarian, gave him strength, backbone and character to become a good Marine. His family was Christian and his mother told him to rely upon the “man upstairs” to bring him home from the battlefields of Vietnam. 

Bill had a covert assignment in ‘Nam and started out working with a young South Vietnamese officer. There is something about combat that causes deep friendships among those serving together. Bill and that young officer bonded closely as they risked their lives almost every day. They became closer than actual brothers. 

Bill had an occasional opportunity to call home and talk to his mother. During one call his mother told him that she had prayed for him and his friend, the South Vietnamese officer. The next day his friend was shot and killed. Bill said that he would never forget the horrible sound of a bullet striking the body of his friend as they fought side by side. 

Bill was assigned another friend to serve with. When he called home again, his mother said that, again, she had prayed for him and his friend. Again, his friend was soon killed as they fought together. The same thing happened a few days later, new friend, killed soon. 

Bill called his mother and told her to stop praying for him and his friends. He told her there was no God because every time she prayed for them, they were soon killed. For a long time, it seemed that Bill had lost his religion. Whenever the blessing was said, Bill would not bow his head. But finally, I had an in-depth talk, and I concluded that Bill did believe in God, but was angry at Him for the deaths of his fellow soldiers. 

The Bible says that God forgives all who ask to be forgiven. I hope that someday Bill will forgive God.

We all go through good times and bad times. The bad times are often brought on by something that we did wrong or by something we should do but don’t. No one knows why, but bad people can have good times, and good people can go through bad times. About all you can do is keep your chin up, be as generous and kind as you can, give others a pat on the back every now and then, live by the Golden Rule and, as another old saying goes, “Let the good times roll.”