Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

In Memory, and Love, of Charles

As many of you might already know, Mary’s beloved Charles died on Friday.

I knew Charles through Mary’s writing, emails and facebook/twitter updates, and also through three visits to their home. My very first memory of Charles is of him rushing us at the door when we came in. Excited, loving, Charles was a presence, and my heart breaks over and over to think of him being gone, so suddenly. My heart breaks for him, for his life cut so short, and for his family who miss him so painfully, and for all of the many friends he made over the years, who feel his loss.

Through just three long-weekend visits, I have so many memories. Many of them, especially from the first visit, are of Charles running. Charles and Violet running together.

Tearing through the beaches, running with joyful exuberance around a baseball field…

…rushing down the hall for treats or a greeting. Of course they are greyhounds, so many of the memories are also of them lounging bonelessly, as greyhounds do with such expertise.

It’s hard to imagine Mary and Dave’s home without there being a Charles there to greet everyone. The hole they feel in their life is huge. Anyone who has experienced loss understands.

I’ve shed many tears this weekend, looking over old pictures, reading Mary and Dave’s words as they struggle to deal with the loss. Hearing, as expected, that Violet’s blood sugar shows the evidence of Violet’s distress, of her grief.

In time the memories trigger more joy than pain, but it’s a painful process, and a long one. For now, there are just tears.

But I didn’t want this to be all about heartbreak and tears. I wanted it to be about the joy that Charles brought to those around him.

When I’d go on walks with Mary and Charles and Violet, we’d often be stopped by the many people in their community who knew and loved Charles. He loved them right back. He’d cross the street to lean on their leg. Of course it was his family he loved best.

My memories aren’t really of Charles alone. It’s of Mary calling “where’s my boyfriend?” and then “Charlesez!” when he’d come trotting to see her. It’s of Charles and Violet getting so excited to get in the car, even if it was just so we could get groceries.

It’s of Dave carving Charles’ name into the sand at the beach.

It’s of a friend of Mary’s coming to visit whenever she could – not, Mary insisted, to see Mary and Dave, but to see Charles and Violet.

I feel like there is so much of Charles to share, but few words that can paint the picture I have in my memories. All I have are a bunch of photographs, a collection of pixels, which I smile at through my tears.

He left too soon, but he will live on in our hearts and our memories. Love you Charles.


25 responses to “In Memory, and Love, of Charles

  1. 4ceiba October 17, 2010 at 10:34 pm

    I am of course in tears.
    For my heart aches all over, and knows the loss to well, to fresh.
    Wrapping Violet , mary and dave in a huge hug..
    You have given a very loving tribute>
    Thank you…

  2. nothoney October 18, 2010 at 11:44 am

    A beautiful tribute, Deb, to a beautiful friend. You’ll see him again some day.

  3. Mary Martin October 18, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    I am so not sending that to Dave until he gets home from work.

    Deb, I can’t put into words how much I appreciate your love, your words and your photos. You capture Charles’ personality and his energy and his love, and I’ll be forever grateful that I can come here and see this tribute.

    With a handkerchief.

    Simply amazing.


    Charles’ mom

  4. Shari Crispino October 18, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    What an awesome tribute. Great photos and great words. I too have met Charles twice and totally remember him leaning his head on my leg just so I would pet him and give him loving. He was a great dog and companion.

  5. Carmen October 18, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    Charles was such a magnificent soul! I still find it incredible to believe that he is not with us anymore in body. He will live in the hearts and minds of those who loved him and those who had the privilege to meet him.

    Thank you for sharing your photos and beautiful tribute to Charles’ memory….

    We will all love him forever, but no one moreso than his warm adoring parents, Mary and David……

    I am thinking of you with all my heart,

  6. kelly g. October 18, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    What a beautiful tribute for a beautiful boy. I never had the pleasure of meeting Charles (or Violet or Mary or Dave), but his sweet, loving, goofy personality shines through in these photos. He left this world much, much too soon, but he’ll live on in the hearts of those who loved him.

  7. Brenna Barron October 18, 2010 at 8:32 pm

    I am writing with tears in my eyes and sadness in my heart as I read this moving and amazing tribute to Charles. The photos capture beautifully the wonderful quality of life that Dave and Mary gave to Charles and in turn they were the benefactors of an unconditional love like no other. Charles was the first face I saw whenever I walked into the Loder household. What a kind and gentle soul he was and I will truly miss seeing his beautiful face when I walk through the door. Charles may be gone from this earth too soon but he shall never be forgotten by those that love him. I will cherish my sweet memories of you always. Godspeed Charlie Boy!!!!

  8. David Loder October 18, 2010 at 9:35 pm


    Words can not approach the beauty of your pictures, Deb! Thank you for honoring our boy. He was the man, and we appreciate your contribution to his memory. He was/is stunning in my camera phone pics, but your pictures are the best! Speechless at first, I have come back to thank you for these and your kind words. You are sooo talented!

    Charlie may have needed some help walking without a limp towards the end, but he sure did not need help getting more love it seems. Probably because he was throwing it at everyone who would pay attention to him. He also was not hard on the eyes…

    Thank you to everyone who has helped us through the past 3 days…

    And thank you Charlie, for being my buddy… Miss you man…

  9. jack knight October 19, 2010 at 11:56 am

    I loved “Charley” too and sure do miss him. The only comforting thought I have is that now finally “Baby” is no longer alone and has a close friend to watch over and comfort her as she will him.
    ( T.K. & Ivy’s Dad )

  10. Wanda Rice October 19, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    I am so sad and broken hearted, without even knowing Charles or his family. Jackie Lynn Humphries is my niece and she posted the devasting news and messaged me the details. I am so sad to hear of your loss and your grief. Tragic…But this tribute is so eloquent and well done…I am glad to have had the opportunity to say prayers for you and for your beloved Charles and his sister Violet. May the blessings of healing peace surround your hearts in this time of such painful grieving. With Love.

  11. Deb October 19, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    Thanks to everyone for the kind words on the post and the pictures. It’s hard to do justice to Charles, and of course I was writing and posting through tears.

    Thanks also to those who shared their own memories of Charles. I don’t think I could ever tire of hearing Charles stories!

    I know that everyone’s comments have meant a lot to Mary and Dave, to know how much Charles touched even those who might not have met him.

    @Jack – I met T.K, Ivy and Baby once, on a walk with Charles and Violet. They were all so excited to see each other! Baby’s story was amazing, and I was very sad to hear when she passed away. She was very very lucky to have found such a loving home.

  12. Torry October 20, 2010 at 7:45 am

    My heart breaks for all who knew and love Charles. I know too well the sorrow of losing babies but the ones that hurt the most are the ones that are taken way too soon. Charles reminds me of my angel Andy, and Violet looks so much like my angel Misty. Words of consolation seem so empty because nothing can really take away the grief but time. However, the thing that gets me through is the hope and belief that we’ll see these dear ones again and be reunited forever.

    Hugs to Charles’ family & friends,

  13. Mary Martin October 20, 2010 at 10:47 am

    I come here a couple of times a day, just to see my boy and read deb’s wonderful words. And the comments! How heartwarming. Thank everyone for understanding how deeply we love Charles and how much our hearts ache in his absence.

    His ears. His nose. Those eyes. The enthusiasm to go wherever we were going for whatever amount of time. His love of running with his sister or his greyhound cousins. His firm belief that his cousins’ toys were more fun than his own and his dedication to playing with every one of them and relocating them for later.

    And the way he’d throw his head backwards onto me (his way of snuggling) or give me his paw while I was giving him his evening rubdown.

    But you all know of all of these moments, because you’ve had your own with your beloved companions.

    Thanks for letting me share.


  14. Sharon Knight October 21, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    Charles was part of our family. After all, he was Ivy & Tk’s cousin. Everyone knew that. When he came to our door, I could see his excitement. He would rush down the hall and go straight to the room with our toy box and bring every stuffed animal out to test the squeaky. He was just so loving. I so wish I had given him a bigger hug during our last visit. We miss you big guy.

    Jack, Ivy & Tk

  15. Jo Tyler October 22, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    what a beautiful tribute to a beloved family member…

  16. Olivia October 23, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Mary’s most recent “Animal Person” brought me over here to read Deb’s touching tribute to Charles and the beautiful comments below it. I lost it when Dave wrote “miss you man” to his Charlie.

    Deb, you have helped bring comfort to two friends with your heartfelt words and happy photos. All the rest of us here feel the gentle ripple effect of your kindness — of your sharing of the incredible power that makes the world go round: LOVE.

  17. SoCal Muchacha October 29, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    I haven’t been doing much writing or reading in the blogosphere over the past months, but did post something today which got me thinking about my favorite bloggers…so of course came over here! πŸ™‚ Am very sorry to read of the loss of Charles, who it’s quite apparent, through words and pictures, was QUITE the man! The 23rd of this month was the 4 year anniversary of my Bailey’s passing, yet it seems like just yesterday, so I’m all too painfully aware of what everyone who Charles is going through…especially his mom and dad. My heart goes out to all of you, and I’m sure you are well-versed in the following, since we are all animal lovers and have probably shared our lives with many, that the pain DOES lessen, the wonderful memories do push the pain out of our hearts, but there will always be that ability for it all to come flooding back in an instant. RIP Charles ❀

  18. Mary Martin October 31, 2010 at 6:20 am

    Thanks again everyone, and @SoCal Muchacha, Charles was indeed the man! We have made great strides in the just-over-two-weeks since Charles died, but things happen, like getting his paw print and tuft of hair in the mailbox–along with many beautiful cards–that bring me right back to holding his head in my hands and kissing his face as his heart slowed to a stop.

    Everyone’s words, and of course Deb’s pictures, do make it easy to think about all of the joy our boy experienced and all of the love he showered us with. So alas, as Deb wrote, the grief does give way to smiles and fondly memories of a unique being with a zest for life (and running!).

  19. Mary Martin January 2, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    Hi Deb.
    Visiting my boy.
    Thanks for his space here on IV.

  20. Olivia January 2, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    And your visit sent me back again, too, Mary.

    Love Charles’ ears sticking straight up as he waits for you, smilingly, patiently sitting in the driver’s seat. It’s like he’s saying, “I’ll always wait for you, Mom and Dad, wherever you are, however long it takes.”

    May I ask why greyhounds often wear wide collars? Is it because their necks are so long that a regular sized collar would look “lost” on them? (Check out Chapter 25, pp 28-32 of to see what I mean.)

  21. Mary Martin January 4, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    Hi Olivia,
    Some greyhound people recommend them because they must wear Martingales (because their heads are smaller than their necks and other collars slip off), therefore they will get tighter as you pull on them. And if they’re thin they might be uncomfortable as you pull on them versus the larger cuff, which sort of spreads out the pressure on the throat.

    At the track and the rescue kennels they actually tend to wear thin Martingales. They’re available in all different widths, but I do agree that there’s a preponderance of thick ones. Also, when you can custom make them (which we do), the thicker they are the better you can see the pattern.

  22. Olivia January 4, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    I’m glad to know that, Mary. It all makes perfect sense. I looked up Martingale in Wiki to see what that’s all about.

    Your custom-made collars are handsome; yes, you can see the beautiful patterns. (I gather many of the wide collars are made of leather, hence your need to have cloth ones specially made.) Thanks!

  23. Marji October 15, 2011 at 10:25 am

    Thank you, Deb, for such a heart-wrenching tribute. It is beautiful.

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