September 27, 2012
Dante and Luigi
Have you ever been reading the book and you wondered why a particular character was in there? One of the most important things in writing is to make sure that each character has a purpose. You can’t just put characters in to fill space; they have to have a reason for being in the story.
My mother used to say that God put everyone on earth for a reason. I assume that applies to animals also. I’m here to tell you about one such person, or one such animal: his name was Luigi. But Luigi’s story is also Dante’s story, so I have to tell them together.
Dante is my grandson. He was born with a little speech problem. It wasn’t anything major, but when you’re a kid, everything is major. It caused him to be shy around new people, especially kids his own age.
Even though Dante didn’t communicate well with people, he had an unbelievable gift for communicating with, and making friends with animals. As luck would have it, we have an animal sanctuary, so Dante ended up with a lot of friends. He made friends with the pigs, the horse, the cats and dogs, but one of his best friends was Luigi.
For nine years they were the best of friends. Almost every day Dante would walk down to the farm to bring treats from his father’s garden so he could feed the pigs. The pigs would see him coming and run to greet him. And every day, Luigi walked with him, escorting Dante down the long street to our farm.
During all those years of talking with the animals, Dante’s speech got better. Now you can’t tell him apart from all the other kids. Maybe it just took time; or maybe it was the practice he got. Either way, Dante had Luigi to help him through the tough times.
The past few months Luigi hasn’t been able to make the walk to the farm. His bones were giving out and he had problems breathing. He was a big boy—about 190 pounds—and the Texas summer took a toll on him. This past week he deteriorated to the point he couldn’t get up to make it outside. He couldn’t even get up on the couch.
Sunday was Luigi’s last day, or at least the last day on this part of his journey. I like to believe he’s in a better place now, one filled with little kids who need him. Little kids he can escort down a long street and make them feel like he’s their best friend.
Some people might think that with 41 animals, losing one wouldn’t hurt so bad. But it does. Each one is unique, with their own special personality. Luigi was extra special. He wasn’t just a big dog, he was a big dog with a giant heart, and he made a little boy feel like a million dollars.
I think that’s what makes animals so wonderful. That’s their greatest secret. Animals don’t care if you’re white or black, Christian or Muslim, short or tall, skinny or fat. Animals don’t care if you enunciate your words or talk with a lisp. They look beyond that. They understand. Wouldn’t it be nice if humans were the same way.
Ciao, and thanks for stopping by,