The other night, Fred looked particularly cheerless. 

As Kathy and I left his apartment, he implored with his eyes, “Please don’t go. Don’t ever go.”

It was heartbreaking. He was lonely, it was clear. 

The next day I was at IKEA shopping for a new desk. In the children’s section there was a bin full of stuffed dogs that looked uncannily similar to Arthur, Kathy and Fred’s labradoodle. 

“Would he, I wonder, like to have a stuffed toy?”

If Tom Hanks’ character could bond with a volleyball to stave off his loneliness in Castaway, could my own father – former CEO of his own high-tech company – bond with … a stuffy?

It was worth a try.

When I presented the toy, I kind of brushed it off as a gift to remind him of Arthur, a gift that was soft enough and just the right size to double as a pillow.

Hook, line and sinker.

As we left for the night, Fred’s final words were, “D-D, can you hand me my puppy?”

He held it to his chest as we walked out the door.

And he didn’t look so lonely.

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