When I adopted Norma, a comment I received frequently was, “No way will you be able to resist calling her Norma Jean!” Resist, I didn’t. In fact, Norma became Norma Jean, Norma Jean Bean, Norma Jean Bean McQueen, Norma J. Bean, NJB, Norma Jean Junglecat Bean, Miss Norma J. Bean, Normie. Norma, however, presumably deaf for the entirety of our three years together, preferred to be acknowledged with a clap of the hands, a round of applause to honor how fabulous she was. Norma was the star, and perhaps a bit of a diva as well. When she wanted our attent
ion, we would receive “the business,” a sassy, half-bark, stomp-on-the-ground-with-her-short-Basset-legs approach to reminding us that Norma always got what Norma wanted.
In the mere 1,017 days we had together, it was an honor to provide Norma with everything she desired. She had the combined personality of a Basset and her presumed mix, a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever; what a combination that was. She loved long walks (“boot camps”) in the countryside. Norma loved all types of treats, but she would put on a show for a Greenie’s bone. Norma also loved her morning trips to her private water bowl, pumpkin night, turn down service, time with her couch buddy, keeping watch over the staircase railing, and copious pets from my mother, another of her best friends.
Norma’s life for the last three years was magnificent, and it had a special fullness thanks to her canine companion, Beethoven. The two pups were sniffing partners, confidants, co-schemers, protectors of each other, and absolute best friends. Their affection for each other was a lovely and powerful force. From sleeping butt-to-butt on the couch, licking each other, and demonstrating an unbreakable solidarity, it became clear that perhaps the only connection that could rival the one between human and dog is the one between two pups. Beethoven will miss Norma forever.
Throughout our days together, Norma was my shadow, and she never once failed to remind me that the best and most meaningful time in my life was Norma time. At the end of our days together, I couldn’t help but lament, “There just wasn’t enough time.”
Somewhere at the foot of the Rainbow Bridge, Norma has met Bonnie and Fred, and instead of lamenting, I bet they are exuding gratitude. While the void will persist, I will honor Norma by doing the same. I am grateful, eternally, for the time when Norma was mine on earth, and the memories of her spunk, joy, and love will carry me forward until we meet again. I love you, Norma Jean.