Perfect Strangers: Sadie's Christmas
By: Michael Hambrook
Mary Anne's dog Sadie befriends a little deaf girl a few days before Christmas.
Rated: Fiction K - Perfect Strangers - English - Words: 2977 - Published:
Summary: Mary Anne's dog Sadie befriends a deaf girl at the hospital at Christmas.
As told by Mary Anne Spencer
Life was going better for me. It had only been about five months since Jennifer saved my life when I almost drowned. For a while I was catering to her hand and foot, but I decided after that to be as nice as I can to her in how I behave and not to react in a vicious way if she tormented me. Also, I decided to follow some of the things she said if they made sense, because most of what Jennifer said made sense.
Three Christmases earlier when I was 21, I had gotten a gift from Jennifer - a pet toy poodle that I called Sadie. I loved animals and I had always had a sixth sense to understand what they are saying just by looking at their expressions. In fact, I understood nearly everything Sadie was telling me, while Jennifer couldn't. I would oftentimes translate for Jennifer what Sadie was saying. Jennifer loved animals, too, but she preferred cats. Her brother was allergic to dogs and her father hated cats, so Jennifer and I decided when we moved out on our own that I could get a pet if I wanted one. The only problem is our previous landlord, Mr. Twinkicetti, who Larry and Balki worked for, didn't allow animals. When the apartment was bought by someone else, they allowed pets, so Jennifer got me Sadie. Sadie not only was my pet, she kept me calm whenever I needed to be. If I ever got upset over anything, I would pet or play with Sadie and everything would be okay.
My 24th birthday was three weeks before Christmas of 1988. Between then and Christmas, Jennifer and I did what we normally do – read to sick children at the hospital. The children would go to a play room where we would take out kids' books and read to them. The stories would usually take about 15 minutes to read.
There were seven kids in a circle in the hospital's recreation room. It was December 22rd, three days before Christmas. The hospital didn't usually allow animals there, but once every month, we could bring in one animal to show the kids, as long as we looked after the animal. I brought Sadie in with me that day and had her tied to a lead.
We gathered the kids around in the room. I got out a book and showed it to them. It had "The Book of E" written on it. "This is the book of E," I said, "Everything in the book starts with E."
"Wow, Mary Anne," said Jennifer, "I didn't even know you could spell 'E'."
I looked at Jennifer with a rather stern look, but then remembered what she did for me, and smiled. "I am surprised you can," I said back, jokingly. Why should I get all the tormenting about being a dumb blonde? After all, Jennifer was blonde, too.
I turned to the first page, where it showed pictures of Elephants, Eggs, and Eskimos.
"Here is something," I said. There were four pictures, three pictures started with the letter E and one didn't. Page 4 showed a picture of an eel, an eggplant, an elevator and a lizard. It asked the question which one does not begin with E.
"Here is a picture of an eel, an eggplant, and an elevator. Also there is a picture of a lizard. Which of them does not begin with E?"
Jennifer joked again, "Mary Anne has been wondering that for years."
Ignoring that remark, I asked the kids again which one did not begin with E.
One of the kids raised her hand, "The lizard," she said.
"Very good," I said. "Lizard does not begin with E."
After reading the book, I got Sadie and showed her to the kids.
"Kids," I said, "this is Sadie, my pet dog. She is a toy poodle. You may pet her if you wish."
I held Sadie in my arms while the kids came to pet her.
"Where did you get her?" one of the kids asked.
I looked at Jennifer and smiled. "My best friend gave her to me." Jennifer smiled back. Ever since she saved my life, I always got a warm and tingly feeling when I called Jennifer my best friend and whenever she called me her best friend. Not only was Jennifer my best friend, she was my hero, my mentor, my confidante, and the closest thing I ever had to a sister. "She is very special to me and because of that, Sadie is very special to me, as well."
About fifteen minutes into our reading session, a new kid came and joined us. She was a rather quiet kid named Amy. Amy was about 7 years old and I noticed something different about her – she was deaf. I had never learned sign language, but Jennifer had. Instead of Jennifer reading "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" to the kids, I read it to them, while Jennifer signed for Amy. All the kids laughed when I tried to speak in a deep voice like Santa Claus.
All the while, Sadie was on the floor attached to the lead. She immediately went over to Amy and sat down next to her, not leaving her side until Amy left the room. For some reason, Sadie had a sixth sense when it came to people who had disabilities like Amy.
By 8:00 that evening, the story time was over. Jennifer and I were ready to leave, but Sadie was nowhere to be found.
"I knew you shouldn't have brought Sadie here, Mary Anne," Jennifer said.
"I wanted the kids to see her," I said.
"I think they know what a dog looks like," chimed Jennifer.
"Oh, right!" I said.
We looked over the place for Sadie and it hit me – she may have followed the little deaf girl, Amy.
"Jennifer, do you know where the room for that little deaf girl is?"
"You mean Amy? She is in room 206, I think."
I went down there, and sure enough, Sadie was in there on Amy's bed, lying on Amy's stomach.
"Let's go, Sadie," I said, "Mommy and Auntie Jennifer have to go home now."
Amy started to sign something to me, for which I called Jennifer.
"Jennifer," I said, "I found Sadie, but Amy is trying to tell me something. Can you come translate for me?"
Jennifer came in.
"What is it Amy?" she signed
Amy signed and Jennifer translated: "I love this dog and I was hoping I could have her stay with me. I always wanted a dog and since she came to me, I wonder if I could keep her. My mother was injured last week and my father ran off, so I was hoping to have a dog to keep me company. This dog seems to love me."
While I spoke, Jennifer signed to Amy what I was saying: "Sadie is my dog, but if she wants to stay with you overnight, she can. We can pick her up tomorrow evening when we come for story time again."
Amy hugged Sadie.
"Would you like to stay with the girl for the night, Sadie?" I asked my dog.
Sadie looked at me with a look of delight.
"Okay," I said, while Jennifer signed, "You two have fun together. Jennifer and I will be back tomorrow to pick Sadie up."
Jennifer and I went home that evening. I felt a little bad that Sadie wasn't with me, but I felt assured that she would be with me tomorrow. I told Jennifer:
"I hope that Sadie will be okay."
"She'll be fine, I am sure," Jennifer said, "Let's go home and go to bed. We have to fly to Vancouver and back tomorrow."
"Oh, right!" I said, "And then we will be back in time to pick Sadie up at the hospital."
The next day, we got up at 6:00 am and flew to Vancouver at 6:30. By the time we got back to Chicago, it was 4:30 pm. Jennifer and I ate and did a little Christmas shopping before we went to the hospital for 6:30 that evening again for stories. When I went to see if Amy and Sadie were there, I discovered that they had left a few hours earlier.
"Where is Sadie?" I asked.
"Who is Sadie?" asked the nurse.
"My dog," I replied.
The nurse told me that the little girl had a toy poodle with her that she took home. She said it was given to her by a nice lady who wanted to make the girl happy. When she said that, I felt a lump in my throat.
"I gave Sadie away and didn't realize it," I chimed, "I can't believe I did that."
"Come on, Mary Anne," said Jennifer, "We have to go now. We have to get ready to tell the stories."
"I can't do it tonight, Jennifer," I said, nearly in tears, "I am too depressed about Sadie."
"Sadie will be fine," Jennifer assured me, "After the stories, we will go around the neighbourhood and look for that little girl's house. Perhaps she will give us Sadie back."
I reluctantly agreed with Jennifer and we went to read our stories. By 8:15, we were done and I finally said, "Let's go get Sadie."
Jennifer and I found the address to Amy Fletcher, whose mother Jennifer had met a few times before. Jennifer had an idea of where she lived.
"Remember, Mary Anne," said Jennifer, "if Amy doesn't want to give Sadie back, we can't make her."
"I understand," I said, dejectedly.
"Here is the place," Jennifer said.
We both walked up to the door and I rang the doorbell. Amy's mother Susan opened the door.
"Hello," she said.
"Hello," said Jennifer, "You probably don't recognize me..."
"Of course I do," said Susan, "You are the nice ladies who gave my little girl their dog."
"That was a loan," I barked. Jennifer gave me a stern look.
"That wasn't what Amy told me," said Susan.
"Can we talk to Amy," I said.
"Certainly, ladies," Susan said, "Come on in. Her room is the second on the left."
We went up to Amy's room. Amy was sitting on her bed. Sadie jumped up when she saw me. I waved to Amy and when I started to speak, Jennifer signed to Amy what I was saying:
"I would like to have my dog because she means a lot to me. I only gave her to you as a loan."
Jennifer translated as Amy signed: "I must have misunderstood you. I thought you gave me your dog to keep."
Jennifer signed to Amy: "No, we gave her to you for an overnight loan, Amy. She is our dog."
Amy started to cry. I looked at Jennifer and she shrugged.
"I want my dog back!" I roared, "I can't believe I did this."
"We have to go home, now, Mary Anne. I have to get the Christmas stuff wrapped. Larry and Balki are bringing our Christmas presents up to us."
We got in Jennifer's car and drove off. She could see I was down in the dumps about Sadie, because I showed it well. Larry and Balki came up that evening with our Christmas gifts. I didn't feel like socializing with them, and kept silent through most of their visit. After a half hour, I ran into our bedroom and fell onto my bed, crying.
Jennifer later came in. "Mary Anne, I sent the guys home. Are you feeling okay?"
I found it rather stupid that Jennifer would ask me that. Here it was two days before Christmas and I didn't have my dog. My pet dog that I loved was with another girl, forever. I sat up, stopped crying and looked at Jennifer.
"I don't know," I said, "I am sad because I will probably never see my dog again."
"Let me tell you something, Mary Anne," Jennifer started, "Do you remember the first time we met?"
"If you recall, I gave you a pair of my roller skates. They were one of my most prized possessions, but because I saw you were sad, I brought them over to you to cheer you up and they made you happy."
"Well," said Jennifer, "we got a good friendship out of it. Look at us now. We are best friends."
"What's your point, Jennifer," I said.
"The point is that you gave Amy your most prized possession and it made her happy and cheered her up."
I came to a realization that Jennifer was right, so I smiled.
"You're right, Jennifer," I said, "I can't ruin a little deaf girl's Christmas by taking my dog from her. What kind of person would I be?"
"That's the spirit, sister," smiled Jennifer, "Now come and help me decorate the Christmas tree."
Feeling better about myself, I went out to help Jennifer. At 8:30 the next morning, I took a little walk to the nearby pet store to see if I could get another dog. I came back before 12 for my lunch. At 1:00 that afternoon, Jennifer received a mysterious package, and a half hour later, a ring came to the doorbell.
"I'll get it, Mary Anne," Jennifer said, heading toward the door.
Jennifer opened the door. It was Amy and her mother. Amy was holding Sadie.
"Hello, Amy," Jennifer signed.
As soon as I heard her name, I immediately turned my head and noticed Amy putting Sadie on the ground. She came over to me and hugged me.
"Amy," I said, "I am so glad you brought my dog back."
"She can't hear you, Mary Anne," said Jennifer.
Jennifer signed to Amy while I spoke: "I am so glad you brought my dog back. What made you change your mind?"
Jennifer spoke while Amy signed: "I got to thinking of how you felt about your dog and I didn't want to be greedy. You must love Sadie an awful lot to want to have her. She is a good dog."
That was when Jennifer went into the back room and brought out a gift for Amy and gave it to her. Amy opened it. It was a beagle – her very own dog.
Jennifer spoke as Amy signed: "This is great Miss Lyons. I love the dog." Amy looked at me: "I am going to name it after you."
Jennifer signed as I spoke: "Mary Anne is a weird name for a male dog, isn't it?"
Jennifer spoke as Amy signed: "It is a boy? I will name him 'Spencer'. That sounds like a good name."
I smiled as I looked at Amy and her mother. Sadie jumped into my arms.
Jennifer asked Amy and her mother to stay and help us decorate for Christmas. It was a mystery to me, though, how Jennifer had Spencer in the back room and didn't tell me. Later that evening, I couldn't help but ask her.
"How did you get Spencer?" I asked, "Where did he come from?"
"I told Larry and Balki the situation yesterday and I gave Balki the money to buy a dog. They hid it in their apartment. While you were in your room crying over Sadie yesterday, I called Amy's mother and asked them to come over today about 1:30. I told them that I had a surprise for Amy." When you went to the store this morning, Balki brought the new dog upstairs."
"I thought we were best friends and told each other everything," I said, "Why did you not tell me about this?"
"Because I wanted it to be a surprise. I wanted my best friend to be happy on Christmas."
I couldn't help but feel overjoyed. Jennifer was surprising me all along. I felt great.
"Speaking of surprises," I said, "I have one for you."
I went back into the back room and brought out a cat for Jennifer. Sadie liked cats, so there was no worry about the two fighting.
"I got you something," I said, "that is not only a Christmas gift, but it shows how much I appreciate everything you have ever done for me, including saving my life. When I thought I was going to lose Sadie for good, I decided to get myself a cat, but since I have Sadie back, I decided to give the cat to you."
"You got me a cat?" asked Jennifer, "That is great! You truly are my best friend, Mary Anne, and I can think of no one else I would rather have for a best friend than you."
We smiled at each other, and both felt tingly inside.
"So is it a boy or girl?" asked Jennifer.
"A girl. Now we both have female animals. If it were a boy, we would have to give it to Larry and Balki."
"Good point," Jennifer said, "What am I going to name her?"
Sadie looked at the flower on our kitchen table. It had blossomed since we last saw it.
Then Jennifer thought of the perfect name.
"Because our friendship has blossomed so much over the years, I am going to name her 'Blossom'".
I put Sadie down and Jennifer put Blossom down. Both animals greeted each other, and I could tell there would be a lasting friendship between the two, just like the one between me and Jennifer.
Later that evening the doorbell rang again. The neighbourhood kids were standing there, Amy included, singing (or in Amy's case signing) Christmas carols. Jennifer and I stood there smiling and thinking of the good things we did for each other. That was what Christmas was all about.