Mile 135: Jason C.
"Bates", the doberman
In early December 1997, our dog Brandy died. Jason had grown up with Brandy and was devastated, saying he didn’t want to live anymore. He had been battling cancer since 1994 and was going through chemo when Brandy died. Jason also had a pet boa constrictor. His mom hated the snake and would not go into his room unless the snake was in its cage. She hated buying mice to feed the snake as she doesn’t like mice either! Jason delighted taking the snake out and scaring his mother by having it under his shirt or draping it over a doorknob to a room that she was going into.
On Christmas Eve, the doorbell rang and a man was at the door with a FedEx box and a doberman puppy that was about three months old. The sender address was Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital in downtown Nashville. When his mom answered the door she told the man that he had the wrong address. About that time, Jason walked down the steps and asked who the box was addressed to. The man said it was addressed to Jason and that the puppy went with the box. Of course Jason was ecstatic with a new dog. His mom wanted no part of it. She said it was a mistake and was very upset. Jason begged to keep the puppy and said he would give up the snake if he could keep the puppy. His mom agreed, as she was very happy to get rid of the snake! She was still upset at the prospects of a new dog and called the nurses station on the floor where Jason spent many weeks and questioned who had sent the dog. She was not a happy camper because no one at Vanderbilt knew anything about it.
Over the next 15 months, Jason and “Bates” became inseparable. He loved that dog and the dog loved him. On Saint Patrick’s Day in 1999, Jason passed away. It was a beautiful warm day and Bates was on the back deck. At the moment of Jason’s passing, Bates began howling. It was as if he knew.
After the funeral, his mom wanted to get rid of Bates. I told her that she needed to call Jason’s brother Bill before she did anything. Bill had told me the story of Bates just after Christmas. Bill had bought the dog for Jason as a Christmas present and they both knew that wouldn’t have gone over well with his mom. So they did the FedEx thing with a friend to make it look like it came from Vanderbilt. They figured that Donna would gladly trade a dog for the snake! Knowing that Bill & Jason had made the arrangements and how much Jason loved the dog, his mom decided to keep Bates, becoming very attached to him.
St Patrick's Day
St. Patrick's Day will always hold a special place in my heart. It was the day Jason passed away at 19. Even though he had a big personality, he was still my little brother. I remember making brownies together, playing matchbox cars, opening Christmas gifts... I remember helping him do his math homework after school and hugging him when he passed a test. It only seems fitting that my very last mil is for this one, the one closest to me and whose loss hurt the most, 16 years ago. I can't wait to conquer the hardest, the longest and the very final mile with you by my side, Jason, a little guy full of energy and enthusiasm who would probably tell me to suck it up and smile. Love, Emily