To many, a family pet is just that–a companion and friend. To others the family pet is a member of the family, treasured as such and treated as any other member within the family. To those who know what I am talking about, that noble creature, whether large or small, encompasses us with their warmth and intelligence.
In Charlie: A Love Story by Barbara Lampert, we are introduced to her best friend and child. Charlie is a beautiful golden retriever and becomes Barbara’s constant companion. Vacations and work often revolve around him and his place in her family’s life.
Lampert has shared with us a very personal journey, the time in Charlie’s life when she realizes that he is growing old and ill. Her tender and harrowing relationship as she and her husband do everything in their power for their great-hearted friend is both poignant and beautiful. The love is amazing, and the lengths this family goes through to make Charlie’s last years as dignified and pain-free as possible borders on the depths of hell we will try for any of our beloved family.
Part of what they share together is their home and garden, and as we follow the lives and travails, we are also introduced into the beauty of new growth and flowers on the property, as that sheen of an old friend begins to fade away. The tendrils are twined in such a fashion that you take strength from the beauty of the flowers, and Charlie’s effervescent presence manifests a sort of peace through it all.
It is brave to put your heart in the open, and yet this is such a beautiful tribute to such a wonderful soul, the work is difficult to put down. Charlie is now in my heart as well, and as you too are caught up in the images of his life, you will find this a difficult story to forget. Charlie: A Love Story is a wonderful book for those who love their animals, as well as those who find beauty in most things. It would be a wonderful book for a book club or discussion group, with merits that would fit into any conversation.
Be prepared to laugh and cry as you are swept away on a journey from the heart, because that is exactly what this is. Such a bond is sacred, and yet, as always, we must move on. Knowing that you have done everything in your power to give this great friend dignity is such a lesson of love. Take a chance and see if you don’t agree: we are much sadder for never having known such a wonderful creature.