Hello campbellsworld visitors old and new.
This afternoon Campbell and I have a treat for you.
I’ve been doing some editing of a writing I hope one day to turn into a sequel of my first book, Campbell’s Rambles: How a Seeing Eye Dog Retrieved My Life and would like to share it here with you.
Your feedback is most appreciated.
If you enjoy this, please feel free to share.
The Raw Truth
Patty L. Fletcher
October 22, 2017
As it is written so it begins.
As it is worked over and through,
So, it goes forth.
As it is read, and enjoyed,
So, it continues.
Good Tuesday morning to you all Friends and Neighbors. Campbell and I welcome you back. If you are reading this now, we assume you’ve enjoyed our first work, Campbell’s Rambles: How a Seeing Eye Dog Retrieved My Life and you were so excited and in wonderment and were so on the edge of your page, you couldn’t wait to see what happened after that bitter sweet long-ago day in October 2011.
King Campbell and I are happy to have you along. This engaging new exciting story is designed to take you a bit further in to the journey my incredible boy and I had to undertake which hurled us through many frightening and dark times, that now carry us in to the brightest sun light of all, and that is true fantastic freedom. We had to overcome a few dreadful demons along the way, or I should say I did, and King Campbell was there to lovingly and strongly light my way and guide me through as he was meant to be, and together we found a much warmer and beautiful life we have decided we like quite nicely. No things aren’t quite the way we want them just yet, but I’ve learned that the best part of the Trip of Life is always going to be the journey and that we’re never really done at all.
. Campbell and I hope you will sit down with us, and enjoy this story, because it is wonderful, and Terrible, Triumphant, and, it is true. In fact, it is the Raw Truth just as the title proclaims.
No sugar coating or hiding of secrets here. I learned the painful lesson of keeping too many of those, and the beginning of that story of what can happen when one chooses to keep secrets and to tell lies over truth was
Told in my first book, Campbell’s Rambles: How a Seeing Eye Dog Retrieved My Life.
Oh yeah, we’ve all got a few creepy, scary skeletons we must keep in the closet, if for nothing else but to scare ourselves straight again when we stray too far toward the narrow and crooked pathways that sometimes brutally block our way to true abundance, beauty, and happiness, but those aren’t the dangerous ones that make us sick or keep us from growing. They’re the difficult, necessary lessons we learned. The deep loves we lost and the fair-weather friends we left behind. The terrific teachers of life. Those who shaped and or changed our reality. They’re the skeletons we must keep and allow to rattle at times when the chilly wind of regression backward in to the slippery dangerous times which caused us to lose those loves, or leave behind those friends, those teachers of life, blow.
If we don’t allow such we forget and if we forget we will surely be forced to revisit those long ago left behind super sad shadows. None of which do we wish to ever see again. So, my Friends and Neighbors I beckon to you come and read my tail for it is hoped that with its telling will come the greatest gift of all and that is true forgiveness, from and for not only myself but from and for others as well.
I find it odd that I would pick this, the beginning of the Winter Solstice to begin my tail but I have. In fact, I’ve begun just a day or so before. I felt it was long overdue and I must begin to share these happenings within my life else I might not be able the next time the wheel turned. So, it is with much love gentleness, and yes, urgency that Campbell and I call to you with our writing once again.
In the first book, you, Friends and Neighbors were given a tiny glimpse into my life. Now I will reveal the rest.
Having this magnificent dog at my side each day has allowed me to find more of myself than I’d ever hoped, and it was and is honestly an awe-striking adventure I would not trade now for anything nor any amount of money in this entire Universe we know.
I have been truly blessed with gifts which if totaled in a worldly fashion would climb to the Billions of dollars in the most precious of metals, but in their form, have no value yet assigned to them.
My spiritual journey has been so enhanced that I feel I have literally grown a life time since my last writing, and it has been both frightening and enlightening to have come this far.
I have learned of spiritual gifts that I wasn’t aware could even exist let alone could belong to me. I am learning to use my gifts in enriching ways and hoping that the type of training I am under taking now will help to heal some of the damage I’ve caused along my journey.
We all make many necessary and painful mistakes, but it is always my sincerest hope that when I make such decisions that there is always forgiveness love, and a second chance to allow for rebirth and new growth.
It is with forgiveness that true healing and freedom are obtained, and so I hope I am always willing to allow it to come from me to those who will but ask.
Many wonderful and difficult changes have occurred since that long-ago day in October of 2011 when Drew and I stood hugging our good-byes just inside the doorway of my beloved home.
As I portrayed in the afterword of Campbell’s Rambles: How a Seeing Eye Dog Retrieved My life Donnie is now living his life in the Tennessee State Correction System and I hate it for him, and all of us who love or loved him. As to how I feel where love for him is concerned? I’ve been asked this many times. I’ve also had many different reactions to my answer. I will say this.
I love the good in him. It is there. It is within all of us. It is up to us to either share or hide it. For now, he has chosen to hide it, behind a wall built of indecency of which I never would’ve dreamed him capable.
At one time, I would’ve spent the rest of my life with him. I would’ve loved him to the death. I was ready to make the permanent commitment of becoming his wife. Then he became and remains someone I no longer know, nor do I care to. I only ask that he leave me in peace and allow me to go forward in my own right, and to know that although I must tell my story, I do it with love not malice, and I do it with only the desire to set my record straight, and to show my perception of how it was during those long dark, difficult, and dreary days in my life, just before the wonderful, life-giving warmth of the sun rose and shined its’
Healing love upon me.
Rocky Dog no longer lives with us here in the Campbell Kingdom. When Campbell and I went to visit Mike and Pluto in Florida we learned that the other four-legged man needed to live elsewhere, and we were all bountifully blessed by the finding of a perfect family for him. That was an amazing adventure all in of itself, and one which will be told within these pages.
I haven’t had the privilege of speaking with Drew for many Moons now, and it is a sad loss for me. I guess if I could put a description of how this makes me feel I’d have to say it is one of those foreboding dark clouds that the bitter cold wind I wrote of above unforgivingly blows over our life’s warm sun from time to time. I am hopeful the writing of this book will go a bit further toward removing this depressing cloud forever.
I would also like to say to you Mr. and Mrs. Gibbon that I mean you no harm by the writing of anything in this book. It is, as I stated regarding Donnie, I wish only to speak my piece, and give my perception. It is my way, if you will of giving myself a bit of closure and dealing with the hurt of the loss of you. Yes, Peggy, I include you. I have read of you and your work, your background, etc. As much as I had available to me. Truth is, I think had I not become so ill, for so long, without treatment, and done such irreparable damage you and I could’ve been friends, and I could’ve learned a ton from you. The loss of Drew’s knowledge and friendship is forever irreplaceable, while all of us can be replaced I know, I also know that what we receive as replacement is not always near as good as what we had.
In short, “You don’t realize what you got, till it’s gone”
As for Campbell and me, we are fantabulous! Yep that is a word. At least in our world. We have had our ups, and downs, and of course we will always continue to do so, but this second phase of the bonding process taking place between us now has been and continues to be the most awesome thing either of us has experienced thus far. I cannot imagine it could get any better but long time Guide Dog handlers from everywhere keep telling me it will. I no longer waver or doubt. I only excitedly look forward to it and can yet only try and imagine what it will be like.
This vivacious, intelligent, and love filled dog has a complete personality all his own. Campbell has his own strong thoughts and deep feelings and believe me he expresses them in a way like nothing I ever experienced before. It has been a neat road all of its own just learning to speak his expressive lab dialect. Yes, Friends and Neighbors he has a language, and I am learning to speak and understand it quite well.
He has enabled me to unlock things within myself I thought were either dead and gone forever or were only unattainable fantasies.
I am awakening to my new self more and more each day and it is a thrilling adventure like none other before. That’s what it’s all about. By the way, finding one’s freedom.
For me, becoming a Seeing Eye Dog handler has been as if someone handed me a key and stood me before a door, encouraging me gently through. Guiding my hand ever so slightly until the magic key began to fit, then stepping away to allow me free passage.
I did not go easily. In fact, at one point I became very confused and tried to walk back through.
Now that I have come all the way through in to the next phase of my journey I am
Truly having the time of my life and am so privileged to have this great beast beside me.
Once again, I thank you Drew, the Seeing Eye and most of all my King Campbell Lee. The best friend a Redneck Girl from Tennessee ever had.
And now, Campbell and I present to you, The Raw Truth: Campbell’s Rambles: Book Two.
Solstice and the Slow Awakening
“I know that I’m alive, because I can look behind me, and see the wreckage of my life”
Tuesday December 2014
The city woke around me, as I sat having my first hot strong, and life-giving cup of coffee. as usual I heard the comforting sounds of it coming to life. For me, it was like listening to a large loving family coming slowly alive after a long deep peaceful slumber.
If you listened very carefully early in the morning you’d always hear the distant sounds of the busy factory not far away. The echoing train whistle seemed ever present always announcing the coming and going of trains. Although they were only freight I would when the weather was warm sit on the porch swing with my early morning coffee and smoke and imagine where the trains were going and sometimes I wished I were on them. Riding along just going where ever the rails took me, without so much as a care, or look back.
Just me and my ever-faithful dog and a knapsack on my back going off to see the world.
Every morning it was the same. a never ending steady stream of
Cars, trucks, and busses going to and FRO. taking people to work, school, or anywhere else they might need or want to go.
It was to me at times as powerful as the pull of the moon on the forest on a quiet full moon summer’s eve must feel to a warrior just before battle.
Feeling the pull of a street or having a building’s presents touch me in some way to assist me through my day is no different to me than someone using the stars to chart their way in a deep forest or on the open sea. Just as the moon and stars give off and leave behind energy so do each one of us, leave our energy imprint behind on streets and in buildings. after all both streets, and buildings are made up of at least some of the four elements so it is only natural that they would give off a presence as well.
I had to smile at the thought of my new found Spiritual Awareness. I felt more complete than ever since my allowing my true self to shine through.
As I gathered my thoughts, I began to plan the day ahead. It was my only day off for the entire week. I’d scheduled a Door to Door KATS van to take us to the City Public Library. I wanted to donate one of my books to them. I also wanted to get a valid Library card so that I could make use of their audio book section. Things were looking up just a bit. My book had published in mid-summer. I was doing OK for a first-time Self-Published author, who didn’t know what the hell she was doing. Work was stressful, but I was hopeful we’d pick up some new volunteers as the New Year came in. Things would be OK, I just had to keep believing. I just had to have faith.
I continued to try and relax. I wanted to meditate and really concentrate on the power of prosperity and positivity for the day, but as those thoughts ran around in my head, the clothes dryer beeped, and a horn blared outside.
The spell in which I’d been caught up in for the moment was suddenly broken.
I stood and stretched. Trying to decide how to dress. It was pouring rain out. I was frustrated by this “Rain again!” I said scornfully. In the end, I laughed. “Seems to me, King Campbell and I have been facing every new challenge and fear in the rain from day one. Why did I think today would be any different?” As the words, I spoke drifted away the chimes on the porch rang a beautiful rainy wind-filled song as if in agreement.
I walked past the ruggedly beautiful black lab, who had captured my heart nearly four years before, curled up snoring on the couch, and gave him a gentle pat as I passed. Celine Kitty who had been with me almost 16 years lay just a few feet away on the coffee table, and she purred lovingly up at me when I petted her while walking by. Then, just as I turned the corner to go down the hall to the dryer Kitty Bob was found as my hand brushed passed, to be lying on the arm of the loveseat waiting patiently for a pet.
He raised his big head and gave a tiny squeak, which tickled me, so I rewarded him with a good scratching behind the ears, and under the chin.
He was so very big and handsome it seemed to me something that large should roar not squeak. We enjoyed a moment together as he stood, arched his back, and butted his head against my face as I leaned down for Kitty Kisses. It had taken some time for Kitty Bob to find it within himself to trust me. He’d had it rough shortly after Donnie had gone. He developed a hematoma in his ear, and I had to have it surgically drained, and stitched. I’d decided after realizing what would be involved to have him neutered at the same time. I was in the process of moving from up, to downstairs, and left him in boarding until after it was complete. It wasn’t until a few weeks later during a particularly bad spring storm that he learned I was someone he could count on. He’d gone outside to terrorize the squirrels. A short time later it began to thunder, and before he could get all the way back to the house it struck! He was under the big Tree in the front yard, I’ve named Grandmother Tree, yowling for all he was worth. I splashed out and grabbed him up, and together we made a mad dash back to the house, with him clinging to me with everything he had. Once the horror of it had passed for him, we were fast friends.
I was lucky to say the least. We were coming in to the second winter without Donnie once again very much on our own.
The last winter had been difficult. It was the first year without Donnie. For good or ill, he’d been a constant presence in my life for just over ten years. Like it or not I’d missed him. It is true. “Sometimes the Devil You Know, is Better than the Devil You Don’t.” I want to qualify that and say, “Better” should be replaced with Easier. I had no
idea how used to things with him I’d become. He took care of and allowed me, just enough of Everything to cause me to become complacent. I was functional, and I’d done it his way for so long, I simply did not realize how much of my life he controlled, until that is, I had to do it on my own without him.
Writing of these things now is not nearly as hard as admitting them to myself was. I felt shame like Nothing I Ever Knew Could Exist. It had been a while since I could hold my head up while speaking them out loud.
Campbell, Celine Kitty, Kitty Bob, and I had become the Campbell Kingdom, and, Happy Were We!
We had moved from the upstairs apartment Campbell Celine Kitty and I had called home for the first year or so of our lives together, and there were many days when I painfully regretted it, but
Through good times and bad we’d endured a lot and then we’d come through yet another awesome and exciting rite of passage when Campbell and I had gone to Florida and discovered yet another phase of the bonding process neither of us had known existed. When Rocky the other 4-Legged Man had left, us I’d begun the second part of my journey with Campbell and one that I believe some thought well overdue.
When we’d come back from visiting Mike in Florida I’d realized that Rocky needed to live somewhere else. I’d begun to realize there were problems before we’d left for our trip, but when I’d come back on that Sunday before Labor Day and Rocky had remained in boarding due to the vet being closed it soon became very apparent that Rocky was the major part of many problems going on with the animals.
Celine’s behavior of hiding in the kitchen stopped immediately Bob Cat began to snuggle and hang out on my lap more and more, and Campbell? He was a different dog, relaxed and playful more than he’d been in quite some time. Rocky had begun to be somewhat aggressive and even downright mean to Campbell sometimes and I believed it was because Rocky had to stay home in a crate all day and Campbell got to go with me and that along with the fact that I couldn’t Walk Rocky and help him work off his high-energy level as he needed was starting to cause him real anger issues.
After a lot of thought and tears, I made the decision to leave him at boarding and find a home. I knew if I brought him home I might weaken and keep him, and I knew that was a selfish and dangerous decision. Sooner or later he and Campbell were going to hurt one another. they’d come close a couple of times, and once when they’d seriously started to go at each other, and I’d had to break them apart physically I’d gotten nipped in the process. I don’t know for sure who did it. I knew it had been an accident it is almost inevitable when you reach in between two snapping and snarling dogs.
Rocky and Campbell had always loved each other, and that had begun to come to an end. I noticed it had begun to take longer and longer for them to patch things up after a fight.
When the bad one had happened, it had taken nearly a week before I’d felt even remotely comfortable leaving them alone together.
After a few days of heavy Facebook posting and calling everyone I knew I found a home. It turned
Out to be the best thing ever for my Rocky.
One of the KATS drivers had heard of his plight and was a dog lover. She and her family went to the vet to meet him and it was love at first sight. They took him home and have said many times it was as if he were always there.
It was again another decision I felt good about having made.
I really was trying to get my life together, and I knew it was going to be quite a process. I’d made many mistakes over the last few years. Allowing Donnie to take my life over in the ways I’d done, regardless of the reasons had caused great turmoil in my life, and as a result, for many people I cared for. I’d lost touch with my daughter, grandchildren, and and Drew due to some wrong decision making on my part. I had quite a bit of damage control to do, and I knew that began with me. I had no idea if I could make it. I had no idea what would happen over the next few months. There were allot of rough spots yet ahead, and I looked forward with a strange mix of sadness, fear, and excitement.
Now, as I began sorting the clothes out of the dryer, I shoved the jumbled feelings away and focused on the good and smiled.
There was nothing to do for what had been. I was trying with all my might to get and stay well. though it was still a day to day struggle. I was beginning to learn it would probably always be.
I knew there was nothing to do but continue to go “FORWARD” as best I could and try to give those who were disappointed in me reason to be proud once again instead.
That thought sparked a memory.
I stood where I was a moment, smiling as it came in to focus.
I remembered walking down the main hall at The Seeing Eye, and as I did I heard friendly voices behind me. I continued to walk but turning slightly to look over my shoulder to see who it was and join in the chatter I threw Campbell off and slammed straight in to John Keane and Drew.
To say I was embarrassed caught off guard and worried about what was going to happen next all at once would’ve been an understatement.
I remembered as I stood stock still, wishing at that moment that there truly was a trap door right under me, that it would open, and that the dungeon Drew and Lukas had teased me about so often during class was real.
If only so I could hide until the two of them disappeared.
Drew, however was as always, his calm self. He reached out with one hand, took me by the arm and turning me back around said softly but firmly, “Ms. Fletcher, if you are always looking behind you you will have no idea where you are going.”
The memory of his smiling yet serious voice, and the words he’d said faded as quick as it had come, though it irked me a bit, I knew he was right.
My mind drifted as I pulled clothes out and sorted them. As I worked I ran across an old Florida beach towel. That got me thinking about the wonderful memory of mine and Campbell’s trip to Orlando Florida, in September 2017. to meet our good friend Mike Tate.
. A fellow Seeing Eye grad and Dear Friend of mine.
What I’d known about Mike before I met him was that,
. He had always been an awesome friend to me, accepted me faults and all. He’d always tried as best he could to understand me and my many ways and moods, and he had always been kind to me when I needed direction or guidance where staying on an even path was concerned and hadn’t yet ever judge me or turn me away. He had over these last 3 and half years been a constant source of support, from the time just before my training at the Seeing Eye, up to this day.
If you’ve read my book, Campbell’s Rambles: How A Seeing Eye Dog Retrieved My Life, then you know that he has always been very special to me, and on more than one occasion has given to me the very strength to keep breathing.
The other thing about Mike, he is a fighter.
The reason for King Campbell and me to travel to visit, was because he was celebrating the 3RD anniversary of his kidney transplant. Wow! What a party that did turn out to be. As I continued with the laundry, my mind drifted to that not so long ago happy time.
Seemed to me it was just yesterday.
Once we’d gotten Rocky Dog to the vet for boarding, gotten Campbell’s Rabies shots, and made a mad dash to the store for last minute supplies we were off. At the airport, Campbell’s work was fantastic. He followed my friend Greg beautifully. When he’d left us a few minutes later with the airport staff the fun really had begun.
Campbell worked through security and on to the plane absolutely without flaw. Just getting airborne was a great fantastic thing.
As Campbell and I were preparing to settle into our seat, with me buckled in and him resting quietly at my feet, the attendant walked up and said, “Ma’am, I’m sorry to trouble you, but would you mind moving to another area, it appears these seat arrangements will not work for the others to be seated here. I started to protest. Started to ask why the other passengers couldn’t sit somewhere else, but just as I was about to open my mouth I thought of something. I wondered, “Wouldn’t it look allot better for me to just move and say nothing? Won’t it make the ‘others’ look more inhospitable? Doesn’t that make me the bigger person? Well…” I chided myself, “Long as you’re not doing it to be a ‘Wise Ass’ as Drew used to say.” I decided that either case it would be easier for me to move, so I collected my carry-on and dog, and followed her out to another row of seats. They too were unoccupied, and I briefly wondered again, “Why could the ‘others’ not have moved?” As it turned out I ended up with the better end of the deal. There was more room in the floor area for Campbell, and this made both of us more comfortable.
On top of that because I’d been so gracious about moving and had caused no trouble, the captain told the head flight attendant to give me my choice of drinks for free from the snack cart. So, for me the trip was fantastic!
Finally, we were readying to land, and I’d begun to get nervous, but as it turns out I had no need. As usual the Seeing Eye training Campbell and I’d received was spot on!
When we landed Campbell nearly flew through the airport. I’d instructed my assistant of the best way to help, and off we’d gone! I’d never worked Campbell as I did that day. His pull was totally different than anything ever before I’d ever done. He was totally tapped in tuned in and turned on! He was in a word “Rockin” He loved it and was totally alive.
I do not think we had ever worked like that. I literally had to jog to keep up with him, but keep up with him I did, and it was the coolest thing ever!
Rather than following the assistant which due to my lack of confidence I am at times guilty of, I’d let Campbell take the lead and the assistant coached us from behind. It had made for a completely unique experience. It was the most awesome thing I ever felt! It felt like flying. We moved so quickly throughout all the crowds. We never ran in to one person or thing. Campbell did everything I asked him, and even when we went past a tiny yipping dog Campbell never flinched nor did he bother to so much as turn his head. He simply kept right on going, and when we arrived at the baggage claim Mike and his friend Bill were there, it seemed as if Campbell was even more fired up than ever!
It was as if he could barely stand still while we made our introductions and readied ourselves to leave the airport.
When we were ready to leave, I let Mike and Pluto take the lead, and was going to follow Bill out, but instead, Bill who has been traveling with Mike and his working dogs for many years, encouraged me to follow Mike, and Pluto and let Campbell get used to working with them. He was right to have done it this way and the experience of working Campbell out of there and to the van was Awesome! It totally rocked! I was absolutely turned on by it. Just when I thought I’d burst with pride, Campbell had suddenly made a sharp left, and just seconds before I could correct bill called out in a laughing voice, “Pit! Stop!” A moment or two later Campbell was done, and we fell back into line behind Pluto and Mike. As we did so, Campbell gave a big! Wiggly! Waggly! Jingly! Shake! As if to say…” Sheesh! That’s better!”
Continuing to the van, I began to feel a sense of freedom unlike anything I’d experienced with Campbell thus far.
I smiled at the memory, as I continued to fold clothes from the dryer. It was nice to have memories all my own like that.
Suddenly the kitchen gate fell to the ground with a crash!
The large bell attached ringing harshly, and slamming! me rudely back in to the present day!
Campbell stomped over it as if it weren’t there and headed for the trash. I stopped what I was doing and went to the front door. I reached up to the hook on the wall beside the door and quietly took down his leash and turning noiselessly went back down the hall. Just as Campbell was trying to exit the kitchen door, licking his lips as if he’d just enjoyed a rather awesome Thanksgiving feast. I reached out and connected the leash to his collar. I pulled him round to face the kitchen door, slamming the gate loudly against the door frame. Giving Campbell a very firm leash correction with a firm “Pfui!” snapping the leash
As I did so.
I was tired of this behavior! And had resolved to put an end to it. I’d almost broken him of going in to the bathroom and saw no reason the kitchen intrusions couldn’t be stopped as well, or at the very least reduced. Then I turned him physically round with my leg and arm. I had both hands occupied holding the leash, thus keeping him completely under my control
I herded him toward his crate with a gentle slap to his rump and a firm, “To your crate!” Then, I let him go.
He went with no hesitation. Some of you reading may believe that type of correction was too harsh. Please before you get too upset, remember if he won’t mind in the house when things are relaxed calm and fun, he won’t mind on the street when traffic is all around us.
Campbell is indeed like me. He knows when he is in trouble, and like me, if not allowed to get too far out of hand, can be brought back in line easily enough.
I knew that by the time he took a short nap in his crate, and I showered and dressed, we’d be more than ready to see one another, and glad to work happily with no problems. That’s simply the way of it for our team. Our ability to keep learning these things, learning and re-enforcing boundaries, and reminding each other when we step out of them continues to be a huge part of our success.
I’ve learned to listen to Campbell, and he to me. The clear and unmistakable communication we’ve established with one another has over the years become extremely important and continues to serve us well each day we’re together. It amazes me as I go through this new life with Campbell how many of my everyday problems resolve themselves if I take the same approach with them as I do with him.
I’d not learned this way of life quite in this way until I’d truly found myself on my own and totally dependent on Campbell.
. I knelt in front of the door to his crate, reached in and softly smoothed the beautiful thick fur on his head and neck. “Now, mommy loves you. Naughty dog’s gone, and my sweet Campbell Bug is back. No more trash surfing.
Huh?” I kissed him, and he gave me his best slimies in return.
Stood. Shutting the door and latching it as I said, “My good boy, take a nap and we’ll see what we do next.” I never want the crate associated with bad, so the correction comes then the quiet gentle loving time out.
As I turned to walk away I was unaware that I was chewing my lip, which was chapped from the wind. It started to bleed, and this brought forth yet another jarring flash of a memory from training…
I was standing in front of an ATM with Campbell at my side harness in my hand. In the other I was holding the Clicker and clipped to me was a small treat bag. Drew was standing to my right and we were practicing having Campbell target the ATM.
It was the most miserable day of training yet. The weather had turned unusually hot and humid; I had a miserable head-ache and fever which I’d chosen to hide from Drew and was not feeling up to snuff at all. Drew too was suffering. He had allergies, they were acting up that day, so, when I again started for the treat bag before Campbell targeted, and, after having told me repeatedly not to do that. His patience had given out. He’d reached out and firmly tapped the back of the offending hand with each word saying, gruffly, “No! Don’t! Do! That!” I suddenly had felt 2 inches high and maybe not that many years old, and due to the frustration of not feeling well and not quite being coordinated with the process of knowing just when to click and when to treat, had nearly started to cry. Just when I’d thought that day couldn’t get any worse, as I’d clinched my teeth together and swallowed to keep from crying, I’d bitten my lip and made it bleed. It was a rough afternoon for sure.
The feeling had passed as quickly as it had come, as well as Drew’s Gruffness,
Because he’d followed his reprimand with soothing and gentle praise when I followed his instructions correctly, the desired effect of that lesson hadn’t been lost on me after all. In fact, because of the correct balance it had been forever etched in my mind.
It had been the last time I’d reached for that damn treat bag early. I sighed to myself as the memory of that day faded.
For just a moment I had literally been transported back in time. I could hear the click of the clicker, feel the hot humid wind whipping round me, and even could feel the tap of Drew’s fingers on the back of my hand, I could remember how his having done that had made me feel, right down to the ache of being frustrated to tears in the back of my throat, and the taste of my own blood in my mouth.
I heard his voice just as it had been that day. First, strong, low and gruff in my ear. Then soft, gentle and soothing. I shivered at the reality of it. Then, just as it had come it was gone.
For just a moment I was gripped with a loneliness, and longing I couldn’t quite put a name to, an ache deep within, and then that too was gone.
As I gathered my clothes, and made my way again toward the shower,
I heard the distant pattering of the rain and whine of the wind as the chimes once again seemed to ring in agreement with my thoughts. At that moment in time, although grieving the loss of a dear friend,
I felt good about how far I’d really come. Seemed to me, once I’d gotten truly on with the business of trying to live my own life with Campbell without relying incorrectly on others I was for the most part doing a decent job.
Yes, from time to time I slipped dangerously backward toward the slippery dark and shadowy times of sickness in my life, but I hoped others were starting to see a bit of difference in me.
Maybe that’s the longing I couldn’t quite put a name to. The longing to know for sure. Until then…?
Hope, it seemed was all I had. It would for now simply have to be enough.
I slipped in to the comfort of the shower, and as the warmth of the water began to do it’s magik on my aching shoulder, I remembered the end of last week, the Friday that almost wasn’t, until I’d realized, there had been
Prosperity in the Face of the Winter Solstice.
For me, the Solstice used to mean nothing more than a sad, dark time. Since then, I have learned that I was wrong, and that in fact, once the Solstice comes and goes, the days begin to lengthen, and each day that passes brings us closer to spring and a time of much renewal and prosperity. So, I always try to think that each sunrise is leading me toward yet another day of growth and rejuvenation. This may seem strange to some, I’m sure, but as you read onward, you’ll see the reason for my mentioning this at all. Whether you are a believer in any god or goddess or in none matters not, because nature will show this to be true:
That the passing of the Winter Solstice leads us toward spring, and a new awakening.
I’d awakened that Friday morning,
Feeling excited and well rested. I’d had a plan of action for that last day of the work week and wanted to get going on it ASAP. That was not to be. First off, even though I felt I had readied everything for the morning, I somehow kept finding that I’d forgotten to lay out many small items, and I had to keep stopping to search for them one at a time. Once I was finally ready, I realized I’d missed my 8:30 bus and so was going to be an hour late. I called in and settled down to read a chapter or two of a book I was trying to finish and waited for the hour to pass, until I could catch the next bus. I began to get totally involved in the story. Soon the hour had passed. I’d let time slip away, and I was again rushing to get out the door.
Campbell and I did make it to the bus stop on time. Although we were cutting it close, it was also cool, because Campbell got to show his stuff while executing a neat, quick right turn to lead us straight to the corner and the steps of the bus as it pulled up to the stop. When we were settled, the driver, whom I’ve known for years and who is a good friend of mine, complimented us on a job “very well done.”
Once I finally made it to work, things got off to a slow start, and I seemed to run into obstacles everywhere I went. Soon, I was disturbed to realize that three hours had passed, yet I’d accomplished very little. I seemed to be having communication troubles with a few people, both in and out of the office, so I finally decided to call it an early day. As I boarded the bus to go home, I was feeling rather low and very frustrated with work. I had almost given up on the entire day.
When we arrived at the bus station where passengers transfer from one bus to another if need be, I had an idea. Sometime back, one of the staff members at the station had expressed an interest in my newly released book.
I’d just received copies of it in the mail, to sell at our upcoming fundraiser. So, I dialed from my cell into the station and talked with the staff member. I told her I had copies of my book with me for sale and asked if she’d like one. She came right out and bought a copy, and on top of that, she asked me to sign it. This caught me unprepared, and I made a firm mental note to find and practice using my signature guide immediately.
I tried to do the best I could. With what I am sure was very messy print, I signed “Patty and Campbell. “Whether the result was messy or no, she was delighted. Then she said happily, “You know this is going to cost you, right?” I laughed, already knowing the answer, and asked, “What is your price?” She answered with a smile in her voice, “A pet!” I immediately said OK, as Campbell had not so much as moved up until I released him from rest. Even then, he did not stand, but only belly crept forward enough to have his head rubbed and his ears scratched. He was so beautifully behaved, only lying there, wagging happily as she loved on him, that a couple of people remarked about his “Amazing Behavior”
A moment later, Charley, another driver who has also turned into a great friend, came along and said, “I hear you’ve been out here selling books!” I smiled and said, “I have, and I have some more with me.” He laughed. “I knew you would. I’ll take two.” I happily gave him two books, and he handed me a twenty-dollar bill. I tucked it away for safekeeping and thanked him. Soon he was gone, my driver was back, and Campbell and I were on our way home. I was thrilled. I’d sold all three copies of my book all at once, and I couldn’t wait to get home to see if my other shipment had arrived. Once at home and settled, I was thrilled to see that it had indeed come.
After a bit of a break, Campbell and I headed out again. I decided I was going to take my money and go get dinner at the Food City Deli and maybe have a word with their manager about an event Campbell and I were currently involved with. I thought he might be able to help me with the Pancake Breakfast and Book Sale Fundraiser. I was hopeful of talking him into some food or drink donations. Just as I was readying us to leave the house, I got a call from my friend and volunteer Gabe. He let me know he’d be by later to pick up a book, as well as tickets for the Pancake Breakfast portion of the fundraiser. This meant I’d sold forty dollars’ worth of books thus far.
I happily set the book aside for him and continued my way, calling a cheerful “Goodbye!” to my friend Old Man Bob, who had stopped by to hang out and use the large space on my dining room table to do some paperwork. As I slipped through the door, I called back over my shoulder, “I’ll be back in about an hour!” He called back, “Good luck. I’ll lock up when I leave.”
Campbell and I started off. I laughed as he took a huge snort of the fresh, cool air and began to wag his tail happily. Once again, he worked beautifully, guiding me safely across the two streets to the stop. When we got there, I praised and praised him. The bus pulled up a moment later, and we boarded with no trouble.
As I settled us into our usual place, I realized, that I’d walked out and left my wallet on the table. I couldn’t believe it. Well, I thought, I’ve got a backpack filled with books. I’ll sell some and feed myself. I argued with myself that the money from the sale of the books was to be for the fundraiser, but I also knew I was to pay myself something and that I had to eat. So off we went. Soon I’d sold two books to the driver I was riding with. We were to change buses at Walmart. While waiting in between buses, I met a man who couldn’t buy a book; however, he took a flyer about my event and promised to put it up at his church. I thanked him and continued my way.
When the bus pulled up and the door opened, I was delighted to see that the driver was Charley. We greeted one another happily, and as we rode round picking people up, I chatted with folks about my book. Before I’d gotten to my stop, I’d sold another copy. I was excited, to say the least. I was already up to seventy dollars in my money-making and was thrilled. As Campbell and I got off the bus, folks sang out their cheerful holiday wishes and goodbyes. We waved happily to all and started out across the parking lot to the store.
Campbell carefully guided me through the traffic, and for a change, everyone followed pretty much the correct traffic routines. We only got one traffic check, and it was not bad. As we came onto the sidewalk, the Salvation Army Bell Ringer stationed outside the door of the store called out, “Hello, pretty puppy!” I said gently but firmly, “Sir, do not speak to him; he’s working.” I added as I passed, “Happy Holiday!” in a cheerful, upbeat voice, and made a note to drop some money in the kettle when I came back through the doorway.
Finally, we were in the store and weaving our way through the crowd. Campbell wagged happily along, and on this day, we made not one mistake while we made our way to the Service Desk. When I found, we’d arrived all on our own and with no mistakes, I was so proud that I had a praise party for my pup right there on the floor while we waited for a shopping assistant.
Soon, with the help of a very polite young man, I had my fried chicken dinner, as well as a bottle of wine. After paying for my purchases and chatting a moment with the manager who was also a member of the board of directors for Contact Concern I was ready to go back out, so Campbell and I could make our escape. I was disappointed to see that the bell ringer was gone when Campbell and I came back through. I had intended to donate a bit of money and let the ringer take a moment and have the chance to meet Campbell correctly.
While we waited at the stop for the bus, we chatted with a fellow bus rider. I explained about the Seeing Eye after the man began asking questions.
Finally, we were boarding again, and shortly after, were back at our stop. As we left the bus we called out happy holiday and great weekend wishes to all. I had money and food, and the day had turned out very well.
Campbell shot forward happily enough when I gave him the command after stepping off the bus, and soon we were turning into our driveway. It had been a fantastic day, and the rough events of the morning seemed distant and unimportant.
I spent a few minutes chatting with some friends who had been waiting for me at the house, and they too bought a book. This brought my take for the day to eighty dollars. I was totally thrilled.
As I put my money and leftover books away, I wished that I could go into writing full time. It had been such fun selling those books in person and making happy conversation with folks—people who were not only buying my book, but who would read it and talk to others about it and about the fact that they’d met Campbell and me. Knowing that they had an idea of the reality of us and what we are like pleased me greatly. I smiled to myself as I finished straightening out my things and thought, one day I’m going to do just that: be a professional writer and have this fun forever. That’s the ticket for sure. I just know it.
As I enjoyed my dinner, I felt that I’d done some great work and had really earned my money. I hadn’t felt like that in quite a while, no matter what I was doing.
Later in the evening, as I was soaking in a tub of hot water in a fragrant, steam- filled bathroom, I understood the way nature worked; I was feeling that same sense of hope and renewal that I knew everything, and everyone must feel. I knew that soon the cold, dark days of winter would be over, and the prosperity of spring would be in full bloom. Heck! I was already receiving some of that just by knowing it was so.
This was originally published as a short story in…
The December Awethology – Light Volume
It has now been rewritten.
As we came in to the holiday season things became rather crazy for Campbell and me. Work was busy with planning the Volunteer Appreciation Breakfast, and then there was my personal fundraiser, Campbell’s Cause to help us get books to sell at the upcoming Top Dog convention we were to attend. On top of those things, there was the fantastic event of my nephew and niece in law moving in to our home with their two girls. I was more than thrilled. I felt no apprehension about their being here, and when people asked me how Campbell and I would deal with having others in the house again after living so long with just the two of us and the cats my answer was always the same. “I cannot wait.” I had been enjoying getting reconnected with my nephew Aaron since his return to Kingsport, and now I would get to know the rest of his family. It would be fine, and I knew it.
Now it was New Year’s Eve Day morning, and we were on our way out the door to run to Food City, and Burger King to pick up donated items for the breakfast, and then go on to the office to prepare for everyone’s arrival.
As usual the plans I’d laid out were not to be.
At least not as I’d thought. Campbell and I started up the walk together and I felt awesome. I had on a new outfit of clothes given to me as a gift by one of my volunteers, and a nice scarf and ear muff set my sister had given me and something about having been able to dress up a bit had really helped me feel good about myself. That along with the way I had figured out how to use the mass transit to get this done had really helped to boost my confidence and I was ready to rock! Or? So, I thought… As we crossed the second street and I urged Campbell forward passed our normal stop the bust we normally rode came by. The driver stopped and asked me if I wanted him or bus 3. I told him I was going on up and to radio the driver that I’d be there in a minute. He did, and I started off again with Campbell trotting happily along beside me wagging his tale and scenting the crisp fresh air of winter.
All was fine, but suddenly things went wrong. Somehow as I had started off again I lost count of how many streets I’d crossed. So, when I got to where I thought I was supposed to be I’d walked further than I thought. I crossed a street when I should’ve turned and that led me astray. By the time, I realized where we were I was way further than I should’ve been. I turned round and was very sure I’d missed Dave and bus 3. I reached for my cell and dialed from memory the KATS office. When I got the dispatcher on I told him what had happened and that I was turned around and to please have Dave and the other drivers in that area watch for me. As I continued down the street, I realized by the direction of the traffic flow, that I had made a diagonal street crossing and had ended up on the wrong side. I wanted to get where I needed to be but just was not sure how anymore. I heard a garbage truck approaching and I decided that Campbell and I had had enough. I flagged down the driver and after a lot of back and forth communication between the two of us and some instruction as to how he could best help from me, as well as trial and error we had a plan of action that worked, and Campbell and I began to follow him back down the street. There was no side walk there and Campbell and I were suddenly doing country work we’d not done since training and to be quite honest we sucked at it. The driver had to stop his truck several times and direct me, even to the point of having to get out and assist me twice. I was upset and embarrassed nearly to tears, but he remained calm and extremely helpful, at one point he briefly took my hand and steadied me saying, “You’re alright sweet heart, just make him follow this road right at the edge. He described a bit better the lay out and this helped us get a better idea of what we needed to do.
Finally, we caught up to Dave and bus 3, and climbed aboard. To say we were glad to be on the bus would be a gross understatement. Campbell and I made our way quickly to our seat and as I sat down, Campbell flopped on to the floor with a thump, and a sigh.
The bus began to move, and I leaned back and raised my hands to my face. Leaning against them I sighed. My head was roaring with confusion. “You alright?” Dave asked. “Ask me again in ten minutes, ok?” He laughed a bit, but there was no humor in it. “I’m ok, Yankee Dave. Dave was and is one of the drivers I considered one of my friends. He’d read my first book, and was originally from somewhere up north, so that seemed to help him help me. I was very appreciative of it and was very careful to not make any of my previous mistakes.
No worries.” I said shakily, and he asked, “What the heck happened back there? The driver from bus five radioed me and said you were on your way up to the corner of Severe and Lamont but I never saw you? “I said, I don’t know yet what happened.” I was starting to feel a bit unglued, and he must’ve noticed it. He said, “Maybe you shouldn’t worry about it right now.” “I have to worry about it. I have to know how it happened, so I can try and keep it from happening again!”
As those words echoed and swirled for a moment in my head, Dave said,
“Well, I found you, and you’re ok. By the way where are you going?” I laughed nervously, and then took a breath, pushed those echoing swirling words firmly out of my mind, and asked with some alarm, “What time is it?” He told me it was a bit after eight and I began to try to figure out how to make what I needed to happen, happen. I told him of the Volunteer Appreciation Breakfast being held this morning at the center, and that I was in charge of it. I relayed to him about my plans and how proud I’d been of figuring it all out and of how very much I wanted it to succeed. “We will make it happen.” Dave reassured me, and soon we were pulling up to Food City. He wished me well as we left the bus, and I said with a bit more cheer, “We’ll be back shortly, I hope?” Dave laughed, “I’ll look for you on the next run. We’ll transfer you over and get you on your way.” After waving a final good-bye Campbell and I walked from the bus in the parking lot in to the store with no problem.
When we reached the service desk I was pleased to see that Campbell had made not one mistake. I praised him well, and then said, “Down.” He lay down with no complaint and I patted his head saying, “You’re a very obedient dog. I have not one idea what I’d do without you.” I turned my attention to the girl at the counter and was pleased to see that my breakfast sandwiches I’d ordered from the deli were there, and the gift card they’d donated to pay for it as well. I sent one of the staff standing there for a couple of bottles of soda and soon had it all paid for, a new value card, and Campbell and I were on our way. Because we’d worked so hard, and been through a bit of upset earlier I let Campbell rest and allowed the assistant to lead me from the store. Once outside, I assured him I was ok, and that the driver would signal me when he returned. When he pulled up there were several of us standing there and we walked out together. Campbell worked flawlessly, and I was pleased to see that although I would be a few minutes late, rather than early as I’d originally hoped, I would make it. Then I remembered the donation at Burger King. I was furious with myself. I’d picked that very darn location, so I could get them both at the same time. The Burger King was literally just across the way from the grocery. “How darn stupid am I?” I asked no one in particular. “What’s wrong?” Dave asked, “I forgot to pick up my donations at Burger King!” I exclaimed. He said nothing, and I knew there was nothing to do for it. I could not go back. I called my supervisor Lynn and explained that I had the sandwiches and drinks, and could he please get ice and the donation from Burger King. I told him nothing of the trouble I’d had. I decided that story could be told and probably retold at the breakfast if that was I ever made it there.
Finally, we were at the station and transferring back to our regular bus five route and headed toward work. As I sat thinking I began to piece the morning’s events back together. I was starting to get a vague idea of what may have gone wrong and had resolved to try and figure it all out soon. I did not want this happening again.
As we pulled up to our stop I said, “Thanks for all your help today. You drivers are fantastic.” “We try. You have a fantastic day now, ok?” I smiled as I left the bus with King Campbell wagging happily by my side. Through it all he’d kept his calm happy self-focused on working and helping me. When we’d begun to get the hang of what the driver of that garbage truck had needed us to do to get us to where we’d needed to be, he’d wagged till I’d thought his body would break in half. He’d literally been wagging from his waste back. I was glad to see that to Campbell work was work, and that he loved it whether we knew where the hell we were going or no. He was just awesome, and as we made our way inside and to the elevator I was prouder to have him than ever.
When the elevator stopped on our floor and the doors opened, Campbell shot forward excitedly with me jogging to keep up. “Yea Campbell!” I cheered softly, and we went quick as lightning to the door. As we entered the warmth of the office and everyone’s happy greetings surrounded us it made the edges of the horror that morning begin to fade. Soon we were telling our tail and setting up the remaining things. After a quick check in the phone room and chat with those volunteers working and hanging out in there Campbell and I settled in to our places for a few minutes. Campbell seemed more than happy to be in his big fluffy bed, and I was glad enough to simply stand and set up my computer. It helped get some normal routine back to a very confusing morning. After spending, a few more minutes in the phone room chatting with the volunteer on the phone desk we made our way in to the conference room where everyone was finally gathered. It was nice to sit down and some of the volunteers who weren’t in the phone room when I had told our story asked me what had happened. Laughingly, I retold the story, and, as I finished up I said “Well, I won’t have any trouble having my column Campbell’s Calamities for this week. A few asked me about that, and soon we were deep in conversation about books, movies, writing acting and having a fantastic visit.
All too soon, the breakfast was over, and it was time to get to the work of the day.
Once we’d helped to set the conference room back to right and made certain all was back in place in the break room, it was time to schedule shifts, and tie up loose ends on the Pancake Breakfast, and Book sale, fundraiser, happening at the end of the month.
Soon the day was ending, and Campbell and I were off to go and cash my paycheck and head to the house. I was looking forward to a little R&R with my friends and family and a New Year’s Eve celebration. Little did I know that our calamities were far from over.
When we got to the station the driver of bus five asked Dave to assist me on to his bus. Dave laughingly said, “Haven’t I done enough today?” The driver of bus five and I both said “NO!” We all laughed, and Campbell and I ran quick like down the ramp and dropping the harness handle I reached and took Dave’s arm. I was tired, the bus station parking lot was noisy, and I was happy to heal my dog and walk for a while with someone else.
“Now, listen you’re gonna have to behave yourself for a while, ok? I’m getten too old for all this work.” Dave teased as he settled us on the bus. He started down the ramp and turning back he asked, “How was your breakfast?” “It went well. Thanks for helping me make that happen. At least no one can say I don’t get my job done cause I don’t have a car.”
“I have no idea who would be that dumb but if someone wants to try and say that, you just send’em to Yankee Dave.” He had a smile in his voice as he walked away.
I sighed, and then had to laugh as I thought of what it might be like to stand hidden in a corner somewhere and listen to that Yankee give those on Contact Concern’s board of directors a piece of his mind concerning whether or not I could do my job effectively considering my “circumstances.”
I’d recently had a conversation with my supervisor concerning my finding a full-time assistant for myself, and when I’d given him a couple of names I was considering, he’d said no to both. When I’d asked why he’d said, “It is the opinion of some on the board that the assistant of the volunteer coordinator have a car, and there has also been some question of your lack of transportation during night and weekend events.” Still to the day of this writing that makes me seethe with anger. I had never failed to do my job due to my “Lack of transportation”
In fact, Drew had come all the way from New Jersey to see that my “lack of transportation” was never an issue. He had after all come to teach me a safe walkable route to and from work.
After the drivers had taken their break, and everyone had transferred to their needed busses, we were off again. When we finally reached Food City I was a bit more relaxed. We entered the store with no trouble but about half way to the service desk someone spoke directly to Campbell. That has been the only drawback to our becoming well known about town. People forget. They don’t mean to distract us. I do not get really upset and angry about it, and I am not rude to people unless I must be. I do not feel people are malicious about it and I don’t have lots of trouble with it, but on this day, someone’s having spoken to him distracted him and even though I brought him quickly back in to focus on me the damage was done. We’d passed the desk and I’d not noticed it because there had been no one there. Once I realized we’d done so I turned us around. Still not able to pick up an audio clue as to exactly where the desk was from where I was I decided that to wonder round in circles would only serve to make Campbell more frustrated and confused, and me upset again. I was feeling just a tad frustrated with the entire situation when one of the staff walked up. “Hi Patty, do you need some help?” I sighed with relief. “Yeah someone talked to Campbell and he decided to go labben.” We laughed at that and it cut the tension. I realized Campbell had had a hard day too and so I decided we’d just get over it and move on.
Back at the desk we took care of cashing my pay check and then made our way back outside to wait for the bus. While there we ran in to the man we’d talked to back before Christmas while waiting at the stop and when he told me the bus was coming I assumed it was already in the parking lot and started forward. Campbell not yet having seen the bus did not know what I wanted of him, and that along with yet another person talking to him once again he became distracted, and again we were off course. Now I was aggravated to say the least. I turned round, listening for the sound of the bus. I had to stop and think for a moment about which bus Dave was driving because some were gas powered and some were Diesel, and this made their motors sound different. I stood listening; I wanted to hear either the bus or sounds from the store. I suddenly couldn’t determine one sound from another. There was a lot of traffic and I felt I was facing the wrong way.
Just then a man getting out of a nearby car asked, “Miss, do you need some help?” I sighed; this was getting old to say the least.
“Yes sir, please? I am trying to catch the bus.” The man quickly turned round and waved at Dave who was driving up as he did so. “Well, that was good timing.” Dave said in an upbeat voice, but I could hear worry just underneath. It was absolutely not like me and Campbell to be so off track, and a couple of times in one day had everyone including me wondering what the hell was going on. As we got on I thanked yet another perfect stranger for helping me out and sighing dejectedly I sat myself and Campbell back in to our regular place, buckled my seat belt and closed my eyes.
“OK Redneck, I’m getting tired of runnen round looking for you all day.” Dave teased. I sighed, “Sorry dude, I…” I trailed off. How could I explain how I felt? I was just tired out, and for whatever reason felt disoriented. Nothing seemed right. “I’m going home and drink till I pass out.” I said aggravatedly. He chuckled to himself and then in a more serious tone, “Make sure you eat a little bit first.” I smiled, “It’s ok Dave, I doubt my going home and getting totally sloshed tonight. Then again, I don’t know. It’s been one hell of a day.” “Just be careful and don’t do too much.
When we reached our stop, I thanked Dave again as Campbell and I stepped off. “Thanks dude, I won’t bother you again till the next time.” He laughed, “It’s all good, ok?” I gave a thumbs up and waved, then we were off. We walked easily with one another down to the first street corner. Things seemed clearer to me now and I was pretty sure I knew what had gone wrong during the morning trip to the bus stop that wasn’t.
I resolved that before the weekend was over I’d rework the whole thing from beginning to end and make damn sure that I was able to do it with no problem. For now, I simply wanted to get us home, and inside for a while. I was long overdue for some food, and that drink I wanted earlier was starting to look better and better than ever.
As we crossed Garden Drive and headed for home I felt proud of one thing, troubled or no our day had been successful. We had gotten to work, our breakfast had been enjoyed by all who had attended, and we were back home safe and sound.
Later as the drinks and food from the evening began to do their own magik I began to totally relax and drifted in the comfort of my family and memories for a while, letting the cares of the day slip in to the past.*
Author’s Note) A couple of days after the incident written of above I learned that one of the reasons for my disorientation was due to one of my Bipolar medication levels being slightly off. This is yet another reason for my writing this book. I very much long for all to realize the challenges a person with multiple disabilities such as mine face each and every day.
If you’d like to read more concerning Mental Illness visit http://www.NAMI.org/
World of Memories
Scientist say that the brain cannot differentiate between something that is happening in real time and memory. They believe that the reaction is the same. If it is happening it is happening. Whether it is in real time or you’re having a memory. I don’t know all I know about that, but I am beginning to lean toward believing they might be right, and the following, is why.
As I finally drifted to sleep in my recliner around 3-AM that New Year’s Day morning I was suddenly thrust back in time to a world I was trying very hard to leave behind.
It was 2011 again, early October and Drew had just left the house from having dinner with Donnie and me. Donnie and I were arguing horribly about his visit. As soon as Drew had gotten in his car and driven away, and I’d come back inside Donnie had started on me, and because I couldn’t just let it go the argument was going strong.
Donnie suddenly grabbed me. “What are you gonna do? Fuck him?!!!”
I shrank back.
“See? I knew it! You fucking little whore!”
He reached out and took hold of me by the shoulders and began to shake me hard. My left shoulder ached. Only moments before he’d held me down. My arm pinned behind me.
“I’ll break it! I’ll make it, so you’ll never work a guide dog again!”
“What do you want? Tell me I’ll give it to you.” I begged.
Continuing to hold my arm behind me, he growled, into my face.
“I want you to go upstairs and call that bastard and tell him not to come back. You tell him you’re done, you don’t need him anymore. Tell him you’ve an emergency at work. I don’t give a fuck, but he’d better not come back here. I’m tired of it. You’re so called friend Mike is always teasing me about how you’re a bad girl, I’ll whip your ass till you’re bloody if you don’t get rid of him!”
I tried to pull free, but he held me tight. His fingers, digging into my skin.
“Say it. You’ll go upstairs and call him. Say Yes sir!”
Please Donnie stop? Please? Honestly, you’re going to break the arm.”
Just when I thought it would never end, I woke. I sat up and looked to see what time it was. 5:30 “Go figure.” I thought, “Park time at the Seeing Eye.”
I sat for a moment letting the memory of the dream fade. “Goddess! I thought I’d gotten rid of that for a while.”
I sobbed, hoarsely in to the dark.
Campbell stirred, and then with a joyful snort and slight yip he leapt from the couch and ran wagging to me. He was half asleep and was making that sweet snuffing noise I love so much. He sounded like such a pup when he did it my heart warmed, and the terrifying memory, began to fade.
I reached for him and we loved together for a moment.
“Need to go out?” I asked, giving his big head, a pat.
He licked my hands and face. “Thanks, you’re so awesome! You’re helping me save on soap and water huh?” I laughed to myself and stood slowly. Stretching, I started down the hall wincing at the sharp pain in my shoulder as I did.
After I’d gone to the bathroom and washed my face I took him out for his morning frozen sniff fest. We walked round in the yard breathing the crisp frozen air and listening to the stillness of the morning. Nothing stirred, not one breath of air, not one bird, nothing at all. The spell of winter’s night was still on and would not yet be broken.
Finally, we were all done, Campbell with his sniff fest, and me with my morning prayer and meditation. It still amazes me how awesome those first few moments together are for the two of us. I know he enjoys it just as much as do I. Sometimes even the kitties would get in on our sniff fests, but thanks to the freezing temperatures the cats were having no part of it this day.
The ground crunched under our feet as we made our way back to the house.
Once back inside we shared more love and quiet play time. Our mornings have never been rambunctious, so it was no problem for us to play and love together quietly while people slept in the other part of the house.
I felt more at home and secure than I had in months. I had the horrible memory completely pushed back where it belonged again.
Campbell and I were safe, the cats were here, and we had just had one of our very best Christmases’ together yet.
I fed all the animals, and
As I went through the morning’s routine of reading previously downloaded email and drinking left over New Year’s Eve coffee I began to think about the day before and the confusion that had befallen Campbell and me.
I decided that later this day I would take him, and we’d redo the walk from the house to the bus stop on the corner. I was sure we could fix whatever mistake we’d made.
Most of the time after a little rest and what I call “Stop! Think, Then Act Time!” we could figure it out. Campbell and I worked very well together, and I was surer each and every day that there simply was not much at all he and I could not get done should we wish to. He was always at the ready. Never did he complain when I woke him with my cheerful,
“Come on sleepy head, get that big black tail up out of bed. Come on and take a walk with me and let us see what we can see.”
Someone asked me why I used those particular words once, and I answered simply, “Isn’t it obvious?” I am not sure they ever got it.
As we enjoyed a nice quiet New Year’s Day at home with our family a warm house, and happiness within our hearts I realized Campbell and I had crossed another hurdle together. It seemed to me each time we had a grueling day like the day before, it brought us closer together yet again.
I am still so very amazed at the fact that our bond can continue to increase. It seems just when it could not possibly change and grow it does.
This experience had taught us both to take the bull by the horns and had increased our initiative together as a team. It had helped us to know when to take the lead and when to drop back and let the other come forward and take control.
This would in time come to be an experience that would serve us well in all parts of our life together.
As the day wore on and I worked on chores around the house and visited from time to time with Aaron Michelle and the kids Campbell was always close at hand.
Each time I got up to do anything he would leap off the couch or loveseat and run long side me sometimes at my left, and sometimes at my right.
wagging and wigging, along.
I’d start scratching his back as we jogged along throughout the house, and then without fail we’d have our song.
“Do, the Wigga Woo! Do the Wigga Woo! When this day is through there will still be me and you. Happy together we will be. For, we are one, yet we, are we.”
He would run and run! Wigging and Wagging all the way.
I held on to him running right along with him. Sometimes we’d come to an obstacle like a stack of boxes, or some type of gate or toy. We’d figure it out and either go round or turn and go another way.
It had turned in to quite a game for us and I was glad. The house was spread out well enough that we had plenty of room to enjoy it.
It would help keep the love handles off this winter when the ground was too slick to get out.
As I thought of the winter ahead, I remembered days gone by. Some of the winter memories I had weren’t as wonderful as were others.
As I remembered the first wintry weather with snow and ice I experienced with Campbell an icy chill ran through me, and the happiness, I’d been feeling, was, frozen out.
I’d waken early one morning in either late December or early January that first winter home with him and it had snowed and sleeted during the night. The steps were icy, and Donnie had as usual put off putting down the deicer and so I was going to have to try and navigate them to take Campbell out.
I’d put on my jacket and boots. Put Campbell’s leash and harness on and started carefully out.
I didn’t normally park him, in harness, but with the icy conditions of the morning, I’d decided, it might be a really great, idea.
I’d worked Campbell, slowly across the covered portion of the deck, and to the edge of the steps.
Then with one booted toe I tested them. They were, as I’d suspected very slick. Slowly, Campbell and I’d made our, way down the twelve steep wooden steps to the ground.
When we’d gotten to the bottom, I’d stopped, and taken a moment to catch my breath.
I’d barely been able to believe I was even doing such, as going down ice coated steps, what with my fear of stairs, but there I was, at the bottom of those dangerously slick steps.
Finally, on the ground Campbell and I had been, relieved to see that the yard itself was very much something we could navigate. So, we’d taken our time, walking round, and enjoying the frosty morning air.
Just as we were coming back around the house, Donnie stepped out.
“Do you think you, might, could make, just a bit, more noise?”
“Sorry, sweetie, just taking him park time. We didn’t mean to wake you. By the way? could you clear the stairs and put out some deice?”
I’d reached my arms out to him asking for a hug, but he’d only sighed heavily, and turned deliberately away.
“If I have to? I think you only want me round to take care of your lazy ass.”
I’d remembered how much that jab had hurt. Sometimes, I worked as much as fifty or sixty hours a week. Donnie had never worked, and had never contributed, even half toward our living expenses.
He’d always said, he needed the extra money from his disability check, for his son. In the end, I’d realized, he’d been spending much of that “Extra Money” on his various illegal habits, and I’d never been able to prove him seriously guilty, once I’d found out.
I knew, I’d helped a criminal, and it ate at me daily.
As I worked on project after project New Year’s Day the memories came at me one by one. I knew that would be the way of it.
It was for me always the way when trying to rid myself of something. I first had to kind of relive it a bit and completely find a way to resolve it in my heart. I knew this go round there were issues on all sides that would not get resolved for me.
The abuse done to me by Donnie, had truly taken a toll this time.
I knew the horrible miscommunication between Drew and me and the destruction of mine and my daughter’s relationship may never be resolved.
I knew, I had to work very hard to find a way, to live with all of the darkness within my life but was still struggling mightily with it all.
Finally, as I finished my chores for the afternoon, I decided to simply put the memories to bed a while and enjoy the remainder of my holiday.
During the evening, we all got together and had a New Year’s Day meal.
Afterward, we’d sat round and visited, just talking and laughing together.
Since, I didn’t have cable, we’d listened to NPR Radio and talked about the show they were playing. When it went off I changed it to music, and began the process, of cleaning up for the evening.
All too soon, our wonderful time, had ended, and we began to get ready for the, coming, work-day, ahead.
It had been a wonderful holiday season, and this year, I’d even had some of the celebrations right in my very home. With people, who, actually wanted to be there.
As I readied myself to end the day I felt grateful for all I had to begin the new year with. I had friends, and family. I had a home that was secure, and I had my health although sometimes, mentally unstable, and of course last but for sure not at all least there was Campbell and I was ever grateful for him. He was the brightest star in my galaxy. He had been from day one and would be that way for me forever.
When, Campbell and I went out in to the frosty night for his last park time, I felt a deep satisfaction within my very soul.
As we walked in to the dark together I no longer felt as if it were pressing in on me. That old emptiness that sometimes seemed to accompany me, was nowhere to be found, and when we started back I knew that from this moment in time on things were going to be truly better than ever for us.
I would no longer just be going through the motions of living. Life was starting to have meaning for me.
I had dreams, and, had begun to make goals, to make them, come true.
As we walked back in to the warmth of the house I suddenly remembered an email conversation I’d had with Mr. Keane, now retired, from The Seeing Eye. When I’d doubted my success, he’d written the following words to me.
Congratulations on your success! Yes, success. All successful people (writers are people too!) get criticized – a lot. There is an entire industry based on criticizing books, movies, plays, sports, cars, etc.… the list goes on forever.
Don’t let the criticism get to you. You put in the work, you made it happen – only you get to decide if it turned out the way you intended. No one else is qualified. Forge ahead, do what is in your heart, write your books, sing your songs, dance your dance – be you. Everyone else can worry about being themselves!”
I’d saved them and reread them many times, but until this very moment their intended meaning had not rung completely true for me.
As I unhooked Campbell’s leash and he went snuffing round the room looking for any leftover crumbs from our New Year’s celebrations I had to smile.
This, was, success. Having a warm home to come to at the end of the day. Having people, whether they be friend or blood relation who love you and who want to be part of, your life, success. Having people be glad to see you when you step up on the city bus, in the morning, success.
As I walked through the house, setting things to right and going through my bed time routine I decided I was going to do just what Mr. Keane had said and start to really enjoy my “Success.”
*Reader’s Note* I’d like to give a shout out, and thank you, to Mr. John Keane, for the use of his words. They, were, and are, much appreciated.
Decisions Born of Calamity
When I woke on Friday morning to return to work, I made the discovery that holidays were created and commercialized simply to destroy the world, and having one mid-week, and then allowing citizens to return to work after was the most effective use of the plan.
That morning while getting ready anything that could go wrong did. Everything from the shower head popping noisily off the wall in to the bottom of the tub, to my tripping over the vacuum cleaner and trying to make up a family appropriate cuss word as I nearly broke my toe.
To me it was the perfect plot for a terrorist novel. Start the unraveling process at home, and soon you’ve the world in complete chaos.
I laughed at my silliness and began to get us,ready for the day ahead.
After the events of New Year’s Eve Day, I was determined to not cause any trouble this morning. I simply wanted to go to work and finish out the week as unnoticed as possible. Of course, that would not be the way of it.
Everything went right along until we stepped outside, locked the door, and walked up the drive way away from the house. Immediately I knew something was different. Everything sounded wet, but it was not raining. As we walked to the corner, I realized I could hear, and smell running water. Campbell stopped me promptly at the corner, and when I told him “Forward” He refused to go. I hupped him up. Still he refused to go.
I stood listening. Somewhere I could hear equipment, but the sound was just too off for me to figure out exactly where.
I could hear my neighbor across and up the street behind me talking, but I wasn’t even sure I wanted to try and cross the street to get to him.
After just a moment or so Campbell began to look back the way we’d come, tugging at me ever so slightly. Indicating to me he wanted to go back to the house.
I followed his lead and turned us around and back to the drive way we went. Once, we’d returned, I had him sit, and pulled out my phone. I called the bus station and told the Dispatcher who answered the phone my problem. She didn’t know what the trouble might be, but we decided the driver could stop in front of the house to pick us up since they did let us off there if we wished in the afternoons.
Soon the bus was coming down the street, and the neighbor across the way yelled to me that it was on its way.
I waved and nodded to him, and we walked to the side walk and waited.
As we climbed on board, the driver explained to me that there was a water line break and that there was running water everywhere. We decided Campbell had done a good thing. When he radioed in what the trouble was, Yankee Dave radioed back and said, “Campbell’s a lab, it’s her fault they didn’t cross.”
We all laughed, and drivers from everywhere began to radio in differing opinions on the matter.
“Well, so much for going to work as unnoticed as possible.”
I laughed scratching Campbell behind the ears.
“We just cannot manage it. Huh bug?”
Campbell licked my hand, holding it down with his big paw while doing so. After a while I leaned back and closed my eyes, to think.
“I guess we really do have calamities.”
That helped me decide something I’d been wrestling with for a while.
I’d been writing a weekly column for an online magazine called Really Good Quotes and enjoyed doing so.
I called my column “Campbell’s Calamities” and I wrote of things that happened to us along our way.
I’d been trying to decide if I wanted to continue doing this, and I was not seeing any return from the investment in the way of book sales which had been my original goal.
I’d hoped that writing and publishing the column each week, I could encourage folks to buy the book by making them love Campbell so that they’d want to know how we got our start. A clever idea, but not one that was working.
I’d been thinking of trashing the project, but a while back I’d done a phone chat line interview, and someone had asked me if I were going to take these weekly stories and turn them in to a book.
I’d really been thinking about doing just that, and marketing it as just an eBook. Who knows? It might just work. I thought about it, and decided that if I went ahead, and had these stories edited, then the work on an actual book of them would be very little, and so it was an investment in later work.
I decided to keep it going. I had after all promised the magazine twenty articles. Once more an experience with Campbell and his work for me had helped me work through a problem.
When we got to work we found the day to be totally routine.
After settling in for the morning things went very smoothly. I was able to schedule a few volunteers to work shifts, and get some PR lined up for the upcoming fundraiser.
I’d kind of let things slip a bit during my planning of the Volunteer Appreciation Breakfast and somehow had lost a donor. I did not want any mistakes to happen during the planning or executing of this fundraiser. I needed it to go well. I was working double both for Contact Concern and the Seeing Eye and had a lot of people watching me to see how I would handle it and whether I would be successful.
There was that word again, and I tried to keep what Mr. Keane had written to me in my mind. I once again gave a silent thanks to the Universe for allowing me the privilege of his friendship and wisdom.
As I went about the tasks of scheduling volunteers to work shifts and calling people concerning the fundraiser I thought of how badly I wanted the few remaining snags in my life to smooth out.
I missed my Polly so very much, and knowing my grandchildren were growing up not knowing me was breaking my heart. She really was wrong about her feelings on this matter. While I understood anger from the past, I also understood very much the value of being able to let go. I was learning valuable lessons from not being able to let go.
I hoped I’d be successful in my own letting go process because the things I hold although sometimes beautiful and sweet are for me as unhealthy as all the anger is to others.
Finally, the work day was coming to a close. As I gathered my things I found a copy of my book laying in a drawer. I picked it up and after a moment’s hesitation slipped it in to my pack with the rest of our things.
Soon we were downstairs and, on our way, out the door. Just as I reached for the handle a voice behind me said,
“Happy New Year Patty and Campbell.”
I turned us around and walked back. A lady from the Speech and Hearing Center was coming out in to the hall.
“Hello! How are you this fine day?” I asked as we walked up.
Campbell wagged excitedly, and she asked, “May I pet?” “Sure, go ahead.” I had Campbell sit and he enjoyed getting his ears rubbed as the two of us caught up for a moment. Me sharing a brief description of our holiday with her and she doing the same in turn with me.
Just then I remembered the book in my pack.
“Hey, wanta buy a book?”
“A book, what kind of book?” She asked.
I smiled, “Our book, Campbell’s Rambles: How a Seeing Eye Dog Retrieved My Life.”
“O I’d heard you wrote a book. I thought you had to buy it on line.”
I smiled again and tried to reach my arms around to remove my pack from my shoulders. I couldn’t do it. The sudden harsh pain in my shoulder was too much.
“Here,” I said turning my pack in her direction. “It’s right there in top. Pull it out and have a look.”
I took a deep cleansing breath as she removed the book, and she did not seem to notice my momentary discomfort.
After a moment or two she had decided to buy the book and was going to get correct change from a coworker.
Soon, she returned, and we chatted a few more moments.
After another brief pet for Campbell we were off. As we burst out in to the fresh crisp afternoon air, I said, “Well bug, a good ending to a not so bad day.”
Soon we were on the bus going toward home. After a brief stop at the station to transfer passengers from one bus to another we were off. Campbell and I weren’t going any place this afternoon. I was worn out and wanted nothing but my comfy clothes, a good cold beer and a nice quiet evening at home with my family around me.
I sighed as I thought of that. Family around me. I was growing quite used to that and dreaded when they’d have to move out. Unfortunately, I was going to have to help that happen. Like it or not the property manager had told me I could only let them stay so long
. She was trying not to notice that it had already been longer than the lease allowed because she knew it was as good for me as it was them. I personally couldn’t have cared if they ever moved out or not. They were good to me and my animals, and they seemed to genuinely want to be there.
I hoped I did nothing to destroy our loving relationship with one another.
“So far so good.” I thought, and soon we were stepping off the bus wishing all a good weekend as we went.
As we came through the door I removed Campbell’s harness and leash and he went running through the house.
Another year Had come to a close, and a new one was beginning. Now, here I was standing in the living room of a house everyone had expected me to lose long ago, feeling the awesome effect of the warmth and love in the house as it surrounded me, and I knew that if I died at that very moment, I would die feeling satisfied and “Successful.”
I was home, safe, and loved. My family was there, and who knew, maybe we could work out a way for them to stay. For now, that was more than I could have ever hoped for so as I removed
my shoes and pack I prayed.
“Thank you, Goddess, for my home, and life. Thank you for the removal temporary or not of all negativity and strife. Thank you for a place to rest my head, and to be safe in while I plan my days ahead. Blessid be to all who have helped to light my way and reward them hugely in the coming days.”
Clear their paths and light their ways, bless them in the most awesome of ways.
To you Goddess my voice I do raise and give you thanks glory, and praise.
Blessid Be to all who are within, and to all who come from without and are accepted.”
Thanks for reading. If you’d like to see the work that inspired this writing, please visit: http://www.dldbooks.com/pattyfletcher/
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