Friday, September 25, 2015

P. J. O'Rourke - The End of An Era

P.J. O'Rourke
July 4, 2000 - September 22, 2015

This week I lost my friend and writing companion.  It's been a long and happy partnership, and my friend was tired - it was time to say goodbye.

My journey with Rourke began when we brought home a new puppy, an Irish Terrier.  Rourke began life in the heart of the British Columbia mountains.  I would joke about his "dual citizenship" for his sire was an American dog and Rourke was born on the fourth of July.  But none of that mattered much to Rourke.  What mattered to him was having his people close, having a bit of fun in the day - a game or two or maybe three, getting into a bit of mischief and going for that daily walk.

We wanted a good solid Irish name so we named him after one of my husband's favourite author's at that time, P. J. O'Rourke.

Rourke was a good traveller from the beginning and where we went, at least on our road trips, he went too.  He settled himself into the backseat ready for any adventure that was to follow.  Intelligent and quick to learn, he wasn't so quick to follow commands.  He had a mind of his own, a trait bred into him eons ago when the Irish Terrier was raised as an independent Irish farm dog.  Now that trait was clear with Rourke.  At obedience, he learned quickly but after learning a command he wasn't apt to repeat it over and over again.  Once he'd done it, the look on his face would say that was enough.  He loved little children and other dogs.  And a walk where either of those appeared ended up in a very distracted Rourke.  He wanted to visit the children and charge head first at the dog, ready for any game whether it was a nose sniffing hello or a pseudo fight.  While he could fly over an agility course, he wasn't so apt to stop if distracted by another dog.  He loved winter and shovelling his face through the banks of fresh snow.  Doing a rather face forward snowplow until there was snow clinging to his moustache.  He loved playing and even a few days before he died he was trying to do spins on the lawn.  But his favourite toys and games were with his stuffed animals - always oversized.

He was there when my first book, From the Dust was published in 2007 and through the writing journey thats followed with all its twists and turns.  He's accompanied me on fifteen years of idea laden walks.  Every morning he made sure that I took a break from writing to go on those walks.  There he strolled by my side, sniffing trees and shrubs, running ahead and always game to keep extending the walk to sniff one more tree and then one more.  In later years, our walks were slower but he still enjoyed every moment of the new sights and smells and the simple joy of being together.  A walk with Rourke never failed to end in feeling good - you couldn't help it.

There was ritual attached to my writing.  Every morning I would get my coffee and Rourke would follow me downstairs to my office where he would settle on his oversized dog bed.  It was a bed we'd brought home from a trip despite the good-natured griping of my husband at the size of it and the room it took, never mind the fact that we had to haul it thousands of miles.  My office looks empty without Rourke laying on that big dog bed.   Sometimes I can imagine he's still there.  

Through the ups and downs of establishing a writing career, Rourke was one of the constants.  When I was accepted by Harlequin intrigue I didn't know it but his time here was dwindling.  I like to think that he stuck around to see me become a Harlequin author and once that was accomplished, Rourke saw it as a time to let go.

I know that'll I'll never know the truth of that but but what I know for sure is that a little over a week before he died, the lameness he was experiencing was diagnosed as something much worse, bone cancer.  He spent his last week being held and pampered, the king of his domain, as he always was, and as loving as he had always been.   The end was peaceful in my arms, just as he arrived in our life as a small puppy over fifteen years ago.

Rest well, sweet Rourke.  Enjoy the stories from afar.


Rourke's Salmon Biscuits
1 can salmon (about 200 grams)
1/2 cup water
pinch of dill
a dash or two of lemon
a dash of pepper 
bake at 325 - flip the cookies after thirty minutes
and continue to bake for another half hour.
Turn off oven but leave cookies in the oven until it cools.  
Cookies will harden just a bit more


Kevin Read said...

Sorry for your loss. Can't expect much more than 15 years, so at least you can look back at the memories knowing he had a good, happy life.

Ryshia Kennie said...

Thanks Kevin - it's true 15 years is a good run. And like your Whiskey, he had a good life.