Once upon a time there was a beautiful damsel, Lady Bee. This damsel had many men in her life. She had a father, several brothers, a handsome husband and adoring son. She was however, sorely lacking in women. She needed a woman to be her friend, to understand the value of bargain hunting, cake baking, fresh guacamole and how color choices can change the mood of a room and its occupants.
One day her life changed. Lady Bee and her family moved to a magical land far in the south, a land of balmy breezes, warm sunny days and sparkling blue water. This land was so beautiful it was hailed as the Jewel of the region. Quickly she began new employment at a local, if slightly worn castle. She worked with all sorts of women, tall women and short women, young women and "mature" women, beautiful women and plain women, in fact more women than she knew what to do with. Lady Bee did not work there long. But in the time that she remained she discovered a very disturbing fact, women can be very complicated and at times very mean. She began to appreciate more and more the men in her life. But all was not lost, disillusioned perhaps at the cruelty she had seen, Lady Bee had still won the friendship of a few, true maidens. I know, because I was one.
My apprenticeship over, I moved away from this balmy land to a different, harsher domain. My new home had its own arid, alpine beauty but I missed my friend. Thankfully Lady Bee and I were able to correspond and even meet once in a while. Finally an opportunity arose to work together once again.
Lady Bee’s family moved north and I moved south. We worked at a clean, new castle on a “Ranch” in the middle of a region originally known for its groves of fruit. Our work was hard, our hours long and our challenges many. But our friendship was strong. Often in the evenings we would roam the land, talking and laughing. When we could steal away we made the trek to again gaze at the sea. Lady Bee became to me an older sister as well as a dear friend.
Suddenly, one summer morning, tragedy struck. While traveling to the local market, Lady Bee was killed.
My heart was broken; I longed to return to my family in their new alpine homeland. But my pain was nothing compared to the devastation in Lady Bee’s husband’s heart. They had been school sweethearts and had enjoyed almost two decades of loving partnership. How could he go forward when the primary plan he’d had for his future was to live it with her. Lady Bee’s husband also felt the weight of continuing to raise their son alone, leading him into manhood without the gentling touch of his mother, the bittersweet crooning of a feisty little bird that loved him all while speaking in the perfectly mimicked voice of his bride and finally, and perhaps least important to him, was the sweet spotted dog who guarded the front door.
That sweet spotted dog had a special place in my heart. She bonded to me at our first introduction in a way that claimed me as her very own. Even Lady Bee had noticed the connection and admonished me to keep quiet around the dog at times when they needed her silence. To even hear my voice was enough to set this pooch to whining.
Several months after the loss of Lady Bee, I had finalized and publicized my plans to return to my family lands. I was standing outside of Lady Bee’s cottage discussing them with a friend when her dog began to whine. The whining was followed by barking and then howling. I stood there amazed. I had only heard this dog bark once and never howl. I turned to the neighbor. “Does she do this often now that Lady Bee is gone?” I queried. He stared at me, mouth agape, and replied, “I have never heard her do this.” I finally understood that it was not Lady Bee that this dog was now pining for, but me.
The realization dawned on me that if at all possible I must take this dog with me. As my final act of friendship to Lady Bee, I would care for her girl. But how? Could I even broach the subject with her husband, and where would we live? I hadn’t found a cottage of my own yet and this was not a little dog. What landowner would welcome us both?
I whispered a prayer, asking my Creator to work out all of the details if this was in fact His idea and His plan. And He did just that. In a little over a month Stinkerbell was headed home with me, to live happily ever after.