Hello campbellsworld visitors.
Campbell and I are quite glad you’ve stopped in on this wonderfully cool rain freshened Sunday afternoon.
At the beginning of April which made 7-years for Campbell and me I posted an excerpt or two of my first book Campbell’s Rambles: How a Seeing Eye Dog Retrieved My Life.
I’d planned to post more as the month progressed but as is my way I got distracted with this thing and that and never got back around to it.
So, as I’ve been hanging out today catching up on email I’ve received yet another note from a reader of Campbell’s Rambles.
As is the case when readers write to me, this one had a couple of questions for me.
I answered them in the best way I could, but in doing so I took a trip down memory lane.
Well I have to say memories from that time are bitter-sweet for me.
As many of you who have followed me for quite some time know I made quite a mess out of things between Drew and I and of course that was one of the questions asked of me by the reader who contacted me today.
Q) What did you do that was so destructive to yours and Drew’s friendship?
The short version of that answer is this.
For a time after his visit here, Drew and I remained in touch. There was nothing wrong with it. We didn’t sneak to do it. In fact, on several occasions we chatted while his wife was right there in the room.
Many times, we chatted about some issue Campbell and I were having as new handler dog team.
Other times we talked about neat things we were learning together.
Sometimes Drew would talk to me about an incredibly smart dog he was training, and sometimes we just chatted about nothing at all.
However, over time between the end of October 2011 and mid 2012 things for me at home began to change.
Donnie’s legal troubles got worse, it became very evident he would do prison time, and Donnie had become violent toward me.
This began to do dreadful things to my mental health.
My bipolar disorder took on a new form. For quite some time I was not even really aware of it.
My personality changed. During that time, I drank a lot and at times did drugs as well. I began to send things to Drew that weren’t appropriate. For whatever reason Drew never asked about it. If he did I have never found evidence of it.
One thing led to another and after a while Drew sent me a note asking me to not contact him further.
This was like a slap in the face. A cold bucket of ice water being poured over my head. A harsh reality check.
I began to wonder what was going on. Began to look back through my sent items and was horrified of what I found.
I began to seek help for these issues, but in the process was eaten nearly to pieces by guilt.
I could not find a way to undo what I’d done, and the trying only made things worse.
Since that time, I’ve healed quite a bit, have walked away from those OCD behaviors and unless I drink way too much and become extremely depressed I do not slip.
The things I did still haunt me to this day. There are questions about that time I have that I’d still like to ask and have answered. There are things about that time I’d like to say.
This however is not possible, and so I have no choice but go on.
The one thing that haunts me most is a promise I made to Drew while he and I were visiting that last day together.
It is found in today’s excerpt.
The other question I’m asked often is concerning the chapter before this one.
In it, Drew Donnie and I had dinner together at Donnie’s house.
After which Donnie and I had a horribly violent argument.
A previous reader has complained that I did not go into great enough detail about that argument and has even gone so far as to state that I did not talk about domestic violence in the book.
I disagree with that reader concerning his thoughts on my not having talked of domestic violence, I did. I simply did not describe in great detail that fight.
The long and short of it was this.
After Drew left the house that night we had a horribly violent argument during which Donnie caught me by my left arm, twisted it behind me, and demanded I go up stairs to my apartment call Drew and tell him not to return that next day.
I talked Donnie down by explaining to him that if I were to do that Drew would become curious. He would not leave it alone, would not honor my request and would come to find out what the hell my issue was.
I have always believed Drew suspected things were not as I wanted him to believe but that he respected my refusal to answer his questions and did not push me for answers.
Well, as good friend and author Phyllis Staton Campbell says, “Is the fool who laments what cannot be helped.”
I’m trying not to lament about things gone by that I can do nothing about but sometimes I cannot help it and so this is the reason for today’s post.
Before I go let me just say this. There is surely something to Law of Attraction. I worried constantly that I would disappoint Drew and I did. I feared I’d lose my beloved home on Lamont Street and I have. Those are also things that haunt me.
I leave you now to read the chapter that brings me such bitter sweetness, and if you’ve not read Campbell’s Rambles I invite you to visit: https://www.amazon.com/Patty-L.-Fletcher/e/B00Q9I7RWG To do so.
You can also find this book on the bard.loc.gov and book share websites.
We’ve a second book out as well and are also found in two anthologies.
As always, I thank you for reading.
If you enjoy you’re welcome to share.
The Last Day
When I awoke the next morning, I did not feel nearly as bad physically as I had expected I would, but my psyche was a mess. As I stood in the shower waking up, I felt as sad as I’d ever felt in my life. A part of me wished I could simply wash myself down the drain and disappear. Another part was angry, and still another was just really confused.
As I stood there shampooing my hair, the fragrance of the shampoo only made me feel worse. It was the smell of the beach, or at least what always reminded me of the beach. It was a mix of coconut and fruit. I can’t remember what it was called; I just remember that every time I smelled that smell, it made me long for the days when Donnie and I had walked hand–in–hand along the shore, picking up random seashells and playing in the surf. I would never forget those times, and I wondered where they’d gone.
The sound of the bell on Campbell’s collar out in the hallway brought me back to reality. I remembered that I was supposed to be hurrying to get ready, because Drew would be there soon. We had one more trip to make before he went back. This only made me feel sadder as I turned off the water, stepped out, and began drying myself. Even the fresh smell of the towel made me sad that morning. Its goodness was such a contrast with the mess I was inside.
How could things have gone so wrong the night before? I just couldn’t figure it out. I had really thought Donnie was enjoying himself. I’d even thought he liked Drew. I was really starting to feel that Donnie was two people; it was as if he’d turned one off and turned the other on the night before. I was starting to believe him when he said he didn’t remember doing some of what he had done, and I was honestly starting to wonder what was going on, exactly.
I’d heard of things like this, of people having mental breakdown issues when under extreme stress. I’d also heard of people showing their true colors when they felt they had nothing left to lose. So, I truly did not know what I was dealing with.
On top of that, I didn’t realize what this was doing to my own mental stability. I was already getting very sick and had no idea that was happening.
I’d honestly hoped to see Donnie that morning before he left, but as I hurried to get dressed, I heard Rocky barking in the garage downstairs and the driver blowing his horn for Donnie in the driveway, so I knew I would not.
“Maybe it’s for the best,” I said to the empty room. “We’d just argue again, and Goddess knows we’ve done enough of that.”
I finished getting ready and hoped that Drew would not notice anything out of the ordinary about me. I was tired and hadn’t slept very well, but I’d be okay for this trip. It was short, so no problem. I just was having a bit of trouble finding the entrance to the parking lot, and I wanted to see if he could help me with a way to indicate to Campbell exactly what I wanted.
After I’d gone down and tended to Rocky and Cassie, I came back up, got in my recliner, and leaned back. I had a little time before Drew was to arrive, and I just wanted to rest. I pulled my Snuggie over me and closed my eyes. The next thing I knew, Drew was knocking on the screen door, saying, “Wake up, sleepyhead; get your shoes on!”
I told him to come in and stood up slowly, then went over and put on my shoes.
He came through the door laughing at me. “You didn’t really have to do that. I was just messin’ with you.”
I smiled, but it was an effort. I felt horrible, and hoped he wouldn’t see. But as usual, he never missed a thing and immediately asked, “You okay this morning? Look a bit pale to me.”
“Just didn’t rest well last night. You know how I get sometimes.”
He walked over to the couch and sat down. I started to my chair.
“Why don’t you come sit by me a minute?” he asked.
I turned around hesitantly.
“Come on!” he said, patting the seat beside him. I went over and sat down beside him.
“Now, what’s up with you? You really don’t look well.”
I sat for a moment, thinking. I suddenly wanted to tell him absolutely everything, but at that moment, the thought of the horrible dream about him I sometimes had came back to my mind.
“Nothing’s going on,” I protested. “I’m just coming down with a cold or something. I have a bad habit of burning the candle at both ends. You know that.”
“So, stayed up late after I asked you not to, huh?”
“Aw, you know how it is. Got talkin’ and messin’ around at Donnie’s, and the time just got away from me.” Drew reached out to brush a piece of lint off my face, and I flinched away from him. I hadn’t meant to; it was just a reaction.
“Sorry,” he said. I was just gonna get that lint or whatever off your face. Didn’t mean to startle you.”
“It’s all right.”
I stood up and started over to the coffee pot. Halfway there, I realized I didn’t have my cup and turned back around to get it. I turned too fast and got dizzy. I staggered a bit and reached out, putting my hand on the back of the loveseat to steady myself.
“Are you sure you’re okay, Patty?”
“Yes. Now who’s being a worry wart?” I smiled a little again, and again, it was an effort.
I went and got my cup and started back to the coffee pot. My left arm was hurting, and I reached up and rubbed it without realizing what I was doing.
“Something wrong with your arm?”
“Yeah, I ran into the door frame last night and knocked the shit out of it. It’ll be good as new in a day or two. You remember how clumsy I can be.”
“Can I take a look?”
“Oh, it’s okay; stop worrying about it. Let me drink this coffee, and we’ll go.” I quickly finished my coffee and got Campbell and myself ready to go.
Finally, we were on our way, and at least for a while, things were as normal as they’d always been.
When we made it to the drugstore, that dog of mine did the parking lot perfectly except for one spot, and this wasn’t really a bad thing. He took me straight to the sidewalk and passed some of what we would normally do.
“That’s all right,” Drew said, “He anticipated what you were going to do, so he took you the easiest and safest way to get you onto the sidewalk and to the door. Sometimes mistakes can be allowed. That one worked to your advantage.”
Once again, I’d learned something. Drew explained a bit more about what he’d meant.
“Campbell knew that you’d want to come to the door, so rather than going all the way down to the end and walking up, he simply took a little short cut and brought you right here. He did it safely, or I’d have stopped you. You did well, too; I saw the look on your face when he made that little change in direction. You felt it and questioned it in your mind, but you went with your dog. Did you do that because I was behind you and you knew I’d stop you if there was a problem, or did you do it because you were following your dog and not even paying attention to me?”
I thought about it for a moment before answering. I wanted to make sure I answered this question truthfully. It would not serve any purpose to not do so. This was a learning experience, one more opportunity to get information and knowledge from this man whose work I admired more than he would ever know, work that I knew had valuable learning in it for me.
“I followed him because I thought he might know something I didn’t. I could hear no traffic to warn me of a problem, and I felt I was in no danger.”
“That’s my girl. Good job!”
We went inside and shopped around a bit. Campbell immediately indicated the coolers to my left.
“What’s that about?” Drew asked.
“I taught him to find those ’cause they have sodas in them, and sometimes I want one.”
“How can you tell what’s what in there?”
“Well, that’s kind of a trick, but here’s something that helps me along my way.”
I took him over and showed him that on each handle was a tiny bottle in the shape of the brand of the bottles inside. There was one for Coke and one for Pepsi. I didn’t know what the other one was, but didn’t care.
“Once I find these, I’m pretty sure to pick up one that I’ll drink. When I get to the counter, if it’s not what I want, they’ll change it for me.”
“How often are you right?”
I laughed. “You won’t believe me if I tell you.”
“Fifty percent of the time.”
We both laughed then. Drew had been telling me from day one, “Take a chance, lady; there’s a 50 percent chance you’ll be right.” I cannot tell you how often I think about those words and then do exactly that these days. Sometimes I just don’t know, from one day to the next, what’s going to happen in my life.
Hell, much of the time of late, I don’t know who I’m going to wake up as. I don’t mean that I have different personalities; I mean that with my moods the way they are, some days it’s just hard to know how I’ll be by the end of the day.
As we went along, Drew found a book on the history of Kingsport to read on the plane. Then we got chocolate raspberry candy bars and sodas and went to check out.
On the way back, Drew showed me something that helped me a lot. He showed me where to cross, so that when I got back on my side of the neighborhood, I wouldn’t have to hunt for this particular driveway that I needed to find in order to get back to where I needed to be. It was a pain to do that. Drew saw a different way, and I liked it much better. Once again, I’d learned some things during what was to have been a very simple trip, and I had not had the problems I’d anticipated.
As we walked along, as usual, Drew was describing things we were passing. As we walked past a house for sale, he said, “There’s a house I could consider buying if I were to move here when I retired. Good location for walking and catching the bus.”
“What would you need a bus for?” I asked.
“Well, if I got so I couldn’t drive, I’d still want to go places, wouldn’t I?”
We walked a bit further along, and he said, “Well, Campbell old boy, I thought I’d just come down here and take you back home with me, but I see now I don’t need to do that.”
Before I thought, I stopped and turned around. I knew in my mind that Drew was just pulling my chain, but I reacted anyway.
“Yankee, you ever come down here to take my dog, you’d best have an army with you. You come here on your own trying some shit like that, I’ll have you taken out in the woods and you’ll never be heard from again. When the school calls to ask what happened to you, I’ll just say, ‘Drew Gibbon? Haven’t seen him. Reckon he had a change of plans.’”
We both laughed, and he said, “I’m just messin’ with you. That dog’s happier, I believe, than I’ve ever seen him, and you’re doing a fine job with him.”
Once we were back at the house, Drew had some time to kill, so I took him into my little office to show him some pictures and video clips. He found my computer a bit hard to run, given that he hadn’t used it before.
I asked, “Would it be easier for you if I emailed this stuff to you?”
He thought it would and gave me his email address. I noticed immediately that it was not a Seeing Eye address and said, “I don’t think you meant to do that. That’s your personal address.”
“It’s fine for you to have it as long as you don’t give it to anyone else.”
“Okay, I promise not to abuse it. Campbell’s honor.”
I meant that, and I have regretted many times some mistakes I made thereafter, while in a serious bipolar episode—which, unbelievably, I am just coming out of after all this time. There’s nothing to do for that now except hope that maybe something in these pages will help to sooth a very bad hurt to a wonderful friendship.
As the picture from the domestic violence picnic came up, Drew said, “Wow! That’s a nice picture! That’s nice enough…”
He trailed off, and I never knew what he thought that picture was nice enough for, but I do know that it’s on the front of this book you’re reading. I also want you to know that when I decided to use that photo, I had no plan to even mention the domestic violence that was happening in my life. In the beginning, this book was to have been nothing more than a book of 20 short stories about funny and strange things that happened to Campbell and me after I returned home with him. But as things began to unfold, I decided to write much differently.
As we sat there, Drew went back to that picture.
“So, were you honoring survivors of domestic violence or victims of it?”
“Well, we’re—I mean, they’re all victims; it’s just that some survive and some don’t.”
As I’ve written many times, Drew doesn’t miss much.
“You reworded your answer halfway through. What’s that about?”
“Well, my first husband was abusive to me.”
He paused a moment and said, “I’ve often wondered how someone can end up in a relationship like that. I know someone who’s been in more than one.”
Suddenly my blood turned to ice. I felt sick. Did he know something? Had I allowed something to show? As I sat there on the arm of the loveseat beside him, I dug my fingernails deep into the palms of my hands without even realizing I was doing it, until I felt the blood start. I stood up then and rubbed my hands on my jeans.
I walked over, shut down the computer, and said, “Well, dude, I’ve had a blast. I cannot thank you enough for what you did here.”
“I didn’t do anything special, just my job.” His voice had a note of distance in it, as though he was halfway distracted by something.
“You with me, Gibbon?” I teased.
“You sounded like you might be halfway paying attention to something else.”
“Oh, just thinking about the picture of you and Campbell by the river. Your boss wrote, ‘This is a picture of Patty and her Seeing Eye dog, Campbell.’ But he spelled dog ‘daawg.’”
We laughed. “He knew I was gonna try to send that to you,” I said. “I’d meant to send it to the Grad Services email address, but never got around to it.”
“Well, I’m glad to have it.”
I’ve often wondered, when remembering that day, if Drew still has the photo. Given the fact that I was quite a pest to him for a while, I’m betting he has nothing within a 200–mile radius that reminds him of me.
We walked back into the living room, and he started getting ready to go. He went into the bathroom. I knelt down by the loveseat there on the living room floor and buried my face in Campbell’s fur. I was exhausted. I was simply worn out from trying to pretend I was okay. The previous night’s argument with Donnie had taken something out of me, and I hadn’t bounced back yet.
He startled me so much that I fell back on my heels, away from Campbell. I looked up. “What the fuck?”
He laughed. “Sorry, but you have a litter box to clean.”
I laughed nervously and went back to petting Campbell.
“Did you hear me?” he said.
“Yes, I heard you. Chill out. We’re not in class, you’re getting ready to leave, lesson’s over, and you’re not in charge.”
He stood there for a minute, and I suddenly thought that maybe I’d made him mad. I turned around to face him and tried to stand. My legs wouldn’t lift me. I reached out for the arm of the loveseat, but found his outstretched hand instead. He helped me to my feet.
“Are you sure you’re okay?”
I sighed. “I do not remember your ever having been such a worry wart.”
“And I don’t remember your ever giving me cause to be.”
We stood that way for a moment, then I relaxed my hand and he let it drop.
He sighed and said, “Well, give me a hug. I’ve got to go.”
I reached for him and hugged him tightly to me. Tears filled my eyes. I knew I’d never see him again. He’d talked about coming back and bringing Peggy with him. I’d told him they could use my apartment and I’d bunk downstairs with Donnie. We had even talked about his maybe bringing their dogs. He’d talked about how he’d like to go to Nashville and stuff, and I’d said that maybe by then Donnie and I would be buying the house.
Somehow, though, I felt that Drew would not do those things. Somehow I knew something would not allow that. I knew Donnie did not want me having anything more to do with Drew, and that he’d see to it that I didn’t. Now, somehow, I felt I’d never get to own my home, and I loved it so very, very much.
Drew returned my hug. “Now, don’t cry.” He reached out and gently brushed away my tears. “I’ll be back one day, maybe in about a year, and you’ll be buying the house by then. You’re going to do great things, honey; I just know it.”
I followed him outside and stood at the top of the stairs as he walked away. For a brief moment, I wanted very much to call after him—to ask him to wait, let me toss some things in a bag, and then drop me someplace. I was going to tell him, “I’ll explain on the way.” For a brief moment, I entertained the thought of taking the Safe House’s offer of help should I need it. But as quickly as the thought had come, it was gone again.
I couldn’t leave; Donnie needed me. It was my fault when he got so upset with me, just like the night before. I’d known he was upset, and I should’ve just left him alone. But no; I had to go charging after him, confront him, and throw a fit. Girls who throw fits have to deal with their consequences. I’d heard that more than once in my life and from more than one man, so I should have known better.
Drew was saying goodbye once more. I gave him a thumbs–up sign and a smile. Again, it took great effort. Then he was backing out of the driveway and was gone.
The emptiness and silence that followed were almost too much to bear, so I turned away from them and went back into the house. I was tired out and wanted a nap. I was very glad that Drew had come and that we’d gotten to work together. Now he was gone, and I needed to concentrate on getting things between Donnie and me straightened out. I loved him, and I believed he loved me. I knew he was having an awful time with all that he was dealing with, and I knew he would never have hurt me until this crap started.
Oh, he’d always been a bit sarcastic, and at times, he could and did say things to me that were belittling and hurtful. Sometimes—well, most times—he did things like that in front of his friends. But I knew that men did things like that, so I had always just let it go. But he had not been physically violent with me until all his own problems had started. Well, I could remember a couple of arguments over the years that had gotten out of hand. He’d pushed me a couple of times, but he hadn’t done anything really bad.
As all this ran around in my head, I worked cleaning the litter box and washing up the few glasses and cups in the sink. Then I parked Campbell, and putting him in bed with me, I settled in for an afternoon nap. Just before I lay down, I set the alarm, so I’d be sure to be awake long before Donnie got home. He’d expect me to have dinner started and things ready for the evening, and I wanted very, very much to please him.
As I drifted off, I could hear the little sounds the house was making all around me. The outside noises seemed to fade, and the house suddenly seemed to be whispering to me. As my mind slipped toward sleep, I could have sworn I heard a soft voice say, “Be careful, young lady; be very careful.”
Patty back once more to add, a few more answers.
Q) What did Donnie do to be sent to prison?
A) Donnie was charged with sex crimes and took a plea that allowed him to serve 10 years.
Q) Did you believe in his innocents?
A) In the beginning I did. After some time, I began to question.
Then on the night he was taken into custody to begin serving his sentence I found evidence that has let me know that he was guilty of much more than he will ever do time for.
I support him no more.
However, the realization that I loved someone of that nature, and actually helped them has done damage to me that has changed me forever.
Again, Campbell and I thank you for reading.
May harmony find you and blessid be.
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