I first met Panda in the autumn of 1953. He joined me in my cot when I was a helpless baby, before I could even walk or talk let alone blog. When I slept my fitful baby slumbers, Panda just sat there watching over me, leaning against the cot's wooden spindles. Back then, the white parts of his coat were more obviously white. Now they are almost grey. I guess Panda is growing old - just like me, for of course we are the same age.
Throughout the past twenty seven years, Panda has been sitting within inches of my pillow on a shelf next to our bed. He gathers dust and, to be brutally honest, I hardly ever notice him. He is just there as he has always been, gazing into the void with his glassy eyes.
He is reliable and constant. Family members have passed away and friends have come and gone. Our two children have flown the nest. More than two hundred and fifty seasons have fluttered by. But Panda is still here, silent, never uttering a word or passing judgement. As loyal as the most faithful dog.
And if I ever die, I want Panda next to me in the coffin. Should that unthinkable day arrive, I will have become just like Panda - silent. peaceful and motionless without a thought in my head. Reaching that exalted state - it is a lesson that it will have taken an entire lifetime for Panda to teach and for me to learn.