When I had been a missionary in Aruba for a few months, Brother Buckley began to say, "How you, Beck?" whenever he saw me. I was pleased that we had reached the level of name-shortening. Yes, it is generally protocol to address missionaries with their title (Elder or Sister) and their full last name, but I was nonetheless proud that somehow I had gained this level of rapport with him. I didn't notice that his greeting was often accompanied by a sly grin.
One day, Brother Buckley asked me if I understood any Dutch. (Aruba makes up part of the Dutch Caribbean, and most people here are fluent in Dutch.) When I told him I didn't, he smiled and said, "That's good, Sis."
Another day, Brother Buckley greeted me as usual: "How you, Beck?" He chuckled, and then told me that the phrase "How you Beck" sounds just like a Dutch phrase that means, "Shut your mouth," or literally, "Shut your beak." (Beck--however it's actually spelled in Dutch--equals 'beak'). We both laughed (despite the fact I had just learned that what I thought to be a term of endearment was actually more like something you say to your obnoxious parrot). It became a running joke. Whenever he how-you-becked me, I usually responded by how-you-becking him back. When I went home, this favorite phrase became the subject line for our occasional emails.
Two weeks ago, I was there at Church when the Cardenas family asked Brother Buckley if he wanted one of their little Husky puppies. He accepted, and when they asked what he thought he would name it he smiled and said, "Beck."
I grew attached to little Beck over the next couple of weeks. She was a cute little puppy who always seemed so excited to see me when I came home to the apartment or got up in the morning.
Last week, Beck suddenly became ill. She didn't move around like before, in fact, she didn't move much at all. And she stopped eating her food. It was decided, unbeknown to me, that she had swallowed a chicken bone which was lodged between her ribs. She was taken to the vet and put to sleep, also unbeknown to me. Brother Buckley, who had put Beck "on the other side of the house" finally stopped lying to me last night when I asked him how Beck was doing. Little Beck, we will miss you.