A Place You Called Home

We all know the story. When you drove out to the property for the first time, you said: “I am home.” Driving out to the rescue today, I saw again why you loved this piece of open country so.

The landscape rose from the fog and frost-bitten ground. The flooded rice fields – glass-like and still – were filled with geese, ducks and coots. The sun broke through and cleared a path through the mist.

Had I known the day would begin so beautifully, I would have left earlier and pulled over for photos. But the dogs were anxiously waiting to begin their day with breakfast and play.

Every inch of this landscape reminds me of you. Sadness comes washing over me in waves.

Your yellow roses…fittingly…were among the last hanger-ons in the winter garden.

While waiting to hold a true, post-pandemic memorial, we placed a giant heart of your favorite yellow roses in the park and sent it heaven-bound before Thanksgiving. I have not been able to find the words to write about it – or anything else.

The alpacas have been sent away; your vegetable garden wastes; your beautiful boy passed from cancer; and your plaque was placed. The reality sinks in.  

And yet, I hear your voice everywhere. In the garden; among the barking dogs; in the calls of birds overhead; and in the morning’s frosted silence. You are everywhere.

I can be relieved that you did not live to see what our world has come to. And still, I know, that in this darkness, you would have found the hope. If nowhere else, then in this little slice of country heaven. A place of hope and sanctuary to dogs.

A place you called home.

The Garden Calls For You

I arrived early that Sunday morning. Learning of her fall, I went to check on her. As she was loaded to the ambulance, I told her it would be okay. I knew in my heart it wouldn’t be – but who am I to argue with the power of prayer?

We grieve the loss of our founder, leader, mentor, and friend. Her impact was immeasurable. The outpouring of love and sorrow at the news, indescribable.

I have found it difficult to find words all this wish-to-be-forgotten year, but the words I had to write on her behalf were the hardest.

Jody’s heart has always been full to the brim with joys and sorrows. It gave and gave for more than twenty years – until today – when it finally gave way.

It is with tremendous sadness that we share the passing of Jody Jones – our founder, leader, teacher, and most of all – our dear friend. Words are incredibly hard to find at this time. None seem sufficient for the impact that this tiny, determined woman had on so many. To live a life of meaning is what we all hope for. Jody lived that and more. She literally made a difference in the lives of thousands. She taught compassion, hope, acceptance, and forgiveness – and to always say “yes, we can.”

And with equal determination, we now say “yes, we can” continue her legacy as she would wish.

Homeward Bound has always been a work in progress. Dreams are like that. You pick up where you left off and you imagine something new. The job of those of us with years of tenure is now to walk in her shoes and inspire the next generation to carry forward the vision. They will make it their own. But at its heart there will always be a bright shining star leading us down the right path following one guiding principle: It’s All About the Dogs.

It was good that our beloved Red went ahead. That way, he could greet Jody at the bridge along with Chelsea, Lucky, and countless others. There is an incredibly special place in heaven for this amazing woman. Filled with birds chirping, endless sunrises, overflowing gardens, and dogs, dogs, dogs.

Godspeed and guide us. We’ll meet you there, dear friend.

For many years, I helped her form her communications. She said I expressed what she felt in ways she could not. It was a collaboration I treasured; seeing through her eyes and sharing what was in her heart. I will miss that – and so much more.

I am exhausted from a week of fielding reporter calls and answering hundreds of emails and posts while juggling work and family needs. When I finally had a moment to just “be” in my sadness, I returned to the neglected garden.

The creatures had been waiting on her return. I had to tell them she would not be back.

At least, not in the way we remember.

Early Sunday mornings were our time. She would come out with her coffee and just wander. We would listen to the chimes and agreed that this was our Sunday church service.

I hung another pair donated in her memory in her garden bed. They are smaller and lighter, and ring freely in the breeze reminding me and the creatures that she is still with us there.

The garden is where I will remember her most. In its own time, it will tell me what to plant or place in her honor.

It was designed at her request. A place of joy. Peace. And remembrance.

She left us years too soon. I know the timing was not her wish. And yet something inside her had been telling her to prepare us for this. In recent years, she tried to step back and let others lead. It was not her nature, though. When she felt it slipping away, she would grab it back. Saving lives was her passion; her reason for being.

Peace and joy be with you my friend.

We should all have such a lasting impact from our brief time on this earth.