I didn’t know Jack Lupton. But I do know his dog.
Mopsy is a little lap dog with long white hair and bandages on her front legs. The day I met her, the day of his funeral, I couldn’t look away from her dark, heartbreaking eyes.
Mopsy was huddled under the kitchen table, peeping up at the commotion of a large family preparing for a terrible day.
When the family left in the limousine, Mopsy went to his bedroom, then to his chair, looking for him in all the places he’d been before today.
I found her in the bathroom, sitting in a little chair. She’d found a quiet place away from the people watching over her house. I petted her, whispered to her, then left her alone for a while.
When I went back to check on her later, Mopsy had moved to the closet, under the hanging clothes.
I couldn’t stand it. She let me pick her up and bring her to the den, where I was sitting with friends. She tolerated me, a stranger, for a few minutes. Then went back to the closet.
One of Mr. Lupton’s caregivers came by for a few minutes, and Mopsy came into the kitchen. The little dog must have heard her familiar voice, and wondered if it was a sign. A clue as to where her master was. Mopsy sniffed at the door, looking up at me expectantly. She traced the path the woman had walked, around the kitchen, into the laundry room. But the nurse was already gone.
Mopsy had no idea of her master’s outstanding accomplishments in the human world. She knew nothing of the Tennessee Aquarium or the Honors’ Course or the Lyndhurst Foundation The little dog could not comprehend that the man she nestled against, morning, noon and night, changed both the landscape and the future of a city.
Mopsy only knew that Jack Lupton, the man who held her and whispered to her and loved her, was her champion. And that her master, her constant companion, the man whose lap may as well have been hers, was a hero.
I imagine Mopsy soothed him toward the end. Comforted him with her unconditional love and adoration. Based solely on her canine instincts.
When her master took his last breath, Mopsy let out a loud yelp, then a long slow moan of mourning.
There was a pillow on the sofa embroidered with the words, “God, let me be the man my dog thinks I am.”
I think he can check that one off.