Critter Alley

Critter Alley

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Blemie's Will

Eugene O'Neill and Blemie from the Eugene O'Neill Foundation

When it comes time to say good-bye to a beloved pet, it doesn't matter if we're an ordinary citizen or a person who has achieved fame, fortune, or notoriety. It hurts.

Many have written on the subject of pet loss. Perhaps my favorite essay is a piece written by American playwright and Nobel Prize winner, Eugene O'Neill. It has often been reprinted in various collections related to the topic of dogs. O'Neill even published a book by the same title.

As the story goes, O'Neill had a much loved Dalmatian named Blemie. When the dog reached old age, O'Neill wrote a last will and testament from Blemie's point of view as a way to comfort his wife for what was to come. I love the touch of gentle humor and wise words. And the final paragraph never fails to evoke a few tears.

In honor of blogger buddies whose four footed friends have in recent weeks left for the Rainbow Bridge, here is Blemie's Last Will and Testament as envisioned by Eugene O'Neill:

"I, Silverdene Emblem O'Neill (familiarly known to my family, friends and acquaintances as Blemie), because the burden of my years is heavy upon me, and I realize the end of my life is near, do hereby bury my last will and testament in the mind of my Master. He will not know it is there until I am dead. Then, remembering me in his loneliness, he will suddenly know of this testament, and I ask him then to inscribe it as a memorial to me.

I have little in the way of material things to leave. Dogs are wiser than men. They do not set great store upon things. They do not waste their time hoarding property. They do not ruin their sleep worrying about objects they have, and to obtain the objects they have not. There is nothing of value I have to bequeath except my love and my faith. These I leave to those who have loved me, to my Master and Mistress, who I know will mourn me most, to Freeman who has been so good to me, to Cyn and Roy and Willie and Naomi and — but if I should list all those who have loved me it would force my Master to write a book. Perhaps it is in vain of me to boast when I am so near death, which returns all beasts and vanities to dust, but I have always been an extremely lovable dog.

I ask my Master and Mistress to remember me always, but not to grieve for me too long. In my life I have tried to be a comfort to them in time of sorrow, and a reason for added joy in their happiness. It is painful for me to think that even in death I should cause them pain. Let them remember that while no dog has ever had a happier life (and this I owe to their love and care for me), now that I have grown blind and deaf and lame, and even my sense of smell fails me so that a rabbit could be right under my nose and I might not know, my pride has sunk to a sick, bewildered humiliation. I feel life is taunting me with having over lingered my welcome. It is time I said good-by, before I become too sick a burden on myself and on those who love me.

It will be sorrow to leave them, but not a sorrow to die. Dogs do not fear death as men do. We accept it as part of life, not as something alien and terrible which destroys life. What may come after death, who knows? I would like to believe with those of my fellow Dalmatians who are devout Mohammedans, that there is a Paradise where one is always young and full-bladdered; here all the day one dillies and dallies with an amorous multitude of houris, beautifully spotted; where jack-rabbits that run fast but not too fast (like the houris) are as the sands of the desert; where each blissful hour is mealtime; where in long evenings there are a million fireplaces with logs forever burning and one curls oneself up and blinks into the flames and nods and dreams, remembering the old brave days on earth, and the love of one's Master and Mistress.

I am afraid this is too much for even such a dog as I am to expect. But peace, at least, is certain. Peace and long rest for weary old heart and head and limbs, and eternal sleeps in the earth I have loved so well. Perhaps, after all, this is best.

One last request I earnestly make. I have heard my Mistress say, "When Blemie dies we must never have another dog. I love him so much I could never love another one." Now I would ask her, for love of me, to have another. It would be a poor tribute to my memory never to have a dog again. What I would not like to feel is that, having once had me in the family, now she cannot live without a dog! I have never had a narrow jealous spirit. I have always held that most dogs are good (and one cat, the black one I have permitted to share the living-room rug during the evenings, whose affection I have tolerated in a kindly spirit, and in rare sentimental moods, even reciprocated a trifle). Some dogs, of course, are better than others. Dalmatians, naturally, as everyone knows, are best.

So I suggest a Dalmatian as my successor. He can hardly be as well bred, or as well mannered or as distinguished and handsome as I was in my prime. My Master and Mistress must not ask the impossible. But he will do his best, I am sure, and even his inevitable defects will help by comparison to keep my memory green. To him I bequeath my collar and leash and my overcoat and raincoat, made to order in 1929 at Hermes in Paris. He can never wear them with the distinction I did, walking around the Place Vendome, or later along Park Avenue, all eyes fixed on me in admiration; but again I am sure he will do his utmost not to appear a mere gauche provincial dog. Here on the ranch, he may prove himself quite worthy of comparison, in some respects. He will, I presume, come closer to jackrabbits than I have been able to in recent years. And, for all his faults, I hereby wish him the happiness I know will be his in my old home.

One last word of farewell, Dear Master and Mistress. Whenever you visit my grave, say to yourselves with regret but also with happiness in your hearts at the remembrance of my long happy life with you: "here lies one who loved us and whom we loved." No matter how deep my sleep I shall hear you, and not all the power of death can keep my spirit from wagging a grateful tail."

Eugene O'Neill had it right. I can see my own dogs that are no longer with me nodding their heads in agreement.

Can you?


Cyndi and Stumpy said...

What an awesome tribute and eulogy

Sketching with Dogs said...

That is so lovely.

Bandit's Pack said...


The Word Place said...

I like this, too!

An English Shepherd said...

Lovely :-)


Two French Bulldogs said...

What a great story
Benny & Lily

NAK and The Residents of The Khottage Now With KhattleDog! said...





ocmist said...

WOW! That is totally beautiful! Grammy says she loved those last lines as well, and can see the line of loving and loved dogs that have been in her long life... The Country Corgis

♥ Sallie said...

Your blog is awesome! Please stop by my blog and accept your award! Yay!

little princess Luna~ said...

amen sista~!

loved reading this--thank you for sharing~! :)


Unknown said...

Thank you for introducing me to this work. Very sweet.


Herbie said...

Well this got me a little bit misty. And my peeps too. The sentiment is absolutely beautiful.

Taffy said...

Thank you so much for sharing this...I have never seen it before. There is so much truth in there and it is so nice of you to post this in memory of those that have recently left us.

Deborah said...

Hi Pat, That was beautiful. I'm going to read it to my mother. I'm afraid, Dolly, her old springer is very ill and will be going to rainbow bridge soon. So this is very fitting.
Also, you asked about your blog just vanishing, apparently, mine did for a few hours. I was lucky it came back up. Sometime a virus gets it or spam or even Google can just get rid of it...very scary.

the booker man said...

yes, miss pat, this is a wonderful post!! thank you!
the booker man

Brandon - The dog with a blog said...

Very nice

Tammy said...

Nicely said. I'm all choked up!