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I’ve not had a lot of experience with relationships.

Even so, I think I have a pretty good idea of what a really good relationship looks like. I’ve been blessed to be a part of a strong marriage, and I’ve had a front row seat to some very healthy relationships that have taught me a lot.

I’ve also had children who, at one time, depended on me for everything. A parent/child relationship is a pretty awesome thing to behold, and in my opinion, the closest two humans can ever get to perfection.

But no relationship I’ve ever seen or experienced quite compares with the one I was in that just came to an end.

That guy was something else.

He was affectionate and attentive. He smiled at me and my heart melted. I was his first choice for company, and when we were together he rarely left my side. He accepted my myriad of moods, dancing with me when the mood hit, or sitting quietly next to me when I needed silence.

He didn’t care that I didn’t have the perfect body, or what I looked like without makeup. He loved me regardless.

He was over-the-top happy to see me at the end of a long day, and didn’t even try to hide it. He never gave me a hard time if I was late or didn’t have dinner already on his plate. He was patient and understanding in pretty much every situation.

He loved the same things I loved — whether it was walking around Lake Tomahawk or working in the garden on a warm spring day. He loved my cooking, even when my culinary experiments were less than stellar.

He was very protective — almost too protective sometimes. But I guess, being a single woman, that’s a good thing. I felt very safe with him,and have no doubt that if provoked, he would have protected me from anything harmful. Maybe even with his life.

I’ve never had anyone listen to me the way he listened to me. When I talked his eyes never left mine — I know he cared about everything that was important to me.

He never lied to me, ignored or purposely hurt me.

Yep, he was pretty much perfect.

Our relationship took some twists and turns through the years, as most relationships do. We adjusted to new homes and experienced the devastating loss of people we loved. Together we watched as family members came and went. But in the end, we always had each other.

A few years ago he suddenly lost his hearing, but that didn’t slow him down or change his approach about life. He stayed positive, active and playful. His attitude was one of acceptance and gratitude for everything he had.

I remember one of our last moments together. We were walking up the stairs, and he suddenly stopped. He had made it to the first landing but was unable to go any further.

This little guy who has been taking care of me for 14 years was now in need of a little help himself.

Sitting on the step, head cocked and ears back, he looked up at me as if to say, “Can you help?”

I picked him up very carefully. You bet I can help, little buddy. You bet I can.

(I lost my best buddy, Ralphie, a year ago. I always think of him this time of year — because he loved to play in the snow. Please keep your furry friends warm this season. And please don’t take them for granted. Show them you love them, every day.)

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