I’ve edited this slightly for the purposes of sharing on the blog. The email address is written so it will copy for you.
From the back text…
In this, the first book in her memoir trilogy, Pathway to Freedom Broken and Healed: Book One, How a Seeing Eye Dog Retrieved My Life, Second Edition, Patty shares how her decision to gain complete independence with the help of The Seeing Eye Guide Dog school in Morris Town New Jersey reveals to her a glimpse into worlds she had never before known existed.
Once home from The Seeing Eye, she soon realizes all is not right in her world.
Watch your step as you journey down the pathway with Patty and Campbell. For there are many obstacles along the way.
There are triumphs and tribulations, tears, and fears. But through it all that forever guide by her side, King Campbell works tirelessly to keep her safe from harm.
Before I begin my tale, both old and new, I want to thank you for reading this book. I want to thank those who have been reading my story from the beginning and continuing, and I hope you will be with me for many years to come.
To new readers, I thank you for joining me. Good times and bad, so far, it has been quite a trip.
I’ve faced trials and enjoyed triumphs. I’ve had sickness, and I’ve had healing. I’ve learned lots about myself I didn’t know and discovered things I both loathed and adored. I am what I am, and the best part is that I’m finally learning how to love all of me.
Why have I Written This Book?
There are many reasons. But mostly, I want to help people know more about me and those like me in the hope that after you’ve read what I have to say, you’ll understand how persons with multiple disabilities work.
I’m a middle-aged, single, blind woman who has other disabilities as well. I suffer from Bipolar Disorder, Fibromyalgia, and short-term memory loss. Over the years, these things have, at times, been real problems for me and those I love and care for.
The good news? For the most part, I have all of the issues firmly in hand, and other than a slip-up every now and then, I’m doing quite well.
I hope you enjoy this book. If at any time you’ve questions, drop me a line at patty.volunteer1. [patty.volunteer1atgmail.com] I’m happy to chat.
Thanks again for reading, and Blessed be.
It was an unusually warm spring afternoon in May of 2010. My good friend Phyllis, her guide dog Emmy, and I were out for the day. We’d been shopping and had gone to lunch in the mall. We were returning to the store where Phyllis had left her packages when I came to the realization that yes, I really did need a guide dog.
We had just left Ruby Tuesdays, and not ten minutes before, while finishing lunch, I’d asked her how we would stay together. She told me to simply listen for the bell on Emmy’s collar and stay right behind her. I was cane traveling at the time and had no idea what was in store for me. I’d been around plenty of guide dogs and their handlers, but I’d had some sight then, and I’d never tried to follow a handler in a crowded area—and certainly not while cane traveling totally on my own. So, I had no clue what was about to happen to me. I would come to see what happened next as a true epiphany.
We were going along quite well when suddenly, we came to a very crowded area in the mall; Emmy found an opening in the crowd, and with Phyllis following along, took it. I was left eating their dust, saying, “Where the hell did they go?” I stood for a moment, letting what had just happened sink in, and then realized I had not one clue how to get to where Emmy and Phyllis had been going. I’d never walked through this mall—or any mall, for that matter—alone, and so knew nothing of how it was laid out. I was forced to ask for and accept help from someone who honestly annoyed me. The person had this ‘poor little blind girl’ attitude that always gets under my skin.
Once Emmy, Phyllis, and I were reunited and outside waiting for the bus, I asked what had happened. She explained what Emmy had done and apologetically admitted she hadn’t realized we’d been separated until they’d gotten where they were going.
“You know,” she joked. “These things wouldn’t happen if you didn’t go round chasing a stick.”
I went home that night and gave what she’d said some serious thought. The next day, I phoned her to ask how I could get more information about applying for training at ‘The Seeing Eye.’ I’d wanted a guide dog for years, but somehow, something always seemed to be in the way.
I was a single mom, and when my daughter Polly was very young, my mother didn’t think it was a great idea for me to be away from her for so long. Then when Polly got old enough, she could’ve been left. I wasn’t in a place that would’ve been safe for me to work a dog. Nor did I go anyplace where I could work one because I’d ended up where there was no public transportation. I’d had an orientation and mobility instructor visit me once while living there, and his opinion was that I simply wasn’t ready to own and handle a guide dog. I must say, since having the whole experience, I’ve often wondered how different my life and Polly’s might’ve been had I ignored everyone’s well-meaning advice and changed my situation in the necessary ways so I could’ve gotten a Guide Dog.
Eventually, in 2005, I moved to another apartment complex, where I lived until October of 2010. There, with my then Fiancé Donnie’s help, I rehabilitated myself a little.
Rehabilitating myself meant I needed to relearn some of what I’d forgotten when I’d ended up in an apartment where I had no public transportation. I needed to relearn some cane skills. I had to learn how to navigate the bus system and get reacquainted with doing things I’d always done but had forgotten during my years of living in isolation. It wasn’t until then I began to seriously consider making the change from cane traveler to guide dog user.
Suddenly, I knew I could wait no longer. I knew in my heart that, without a doubt, it was time for me to take this step. I was also quite sure ‘The Seeing Eye’ was where I wanted to train.
No Good Excuse…
April second, 2011, finally arrived, and it was time to go. My dad was in the driveway waiting; my luggage was loaded. I stood at the door with tears in my eyes, saying my goodbyes. On what should have been one of the most exciting days of my life, I was upset. Why? Because as had become the norm more and more of late, Donnie was putting himself before me. Furthermore, he had no good excuse for his selfishness.
I’d asked Donnie to come with us to the airport, and he’d refused. His excuse was he had his son that weekend, and his son had a friend over. My dad had told us more than once it wouldn’t be a problem; he’d even offered to let the boys hang out and watch planes take off and land after I’d gone, but Donnie still wouldn’t go. I asked him why, but he never gave me a straight answer. Considering we’d argued about my going the night before, to me, the answer was obvious. Though he’d never admit it in front of his son or my dad, he simply didn’t want me to go. He was pissed off because I was going ahead against his wishes.
As I started to step out, I decided to try once more. I loved him so very much. Why could he not enjoy this with me? What did I have to do to make him realize I wouldn’t stop loving him or needing him once I had this dog?
“Donnie?” I pleaded. “Please, come with us? This is one of the most important days of my life. I want and need you to share it with me.”
“No!” he exclaimed in a low, gruff voice. “I told you last night, if you do this, I won’t be here when you get back.”
“Fine. I’d suggest you get packed, and don’t bother leaving anything behind to come back for later,” I growled in a low, harsh whisper, suddenly furious. He wasn’t bullying me out of this. “I’m done dealing with you and your bullying ways. Just one question.” I sneered.
“What?” He snapped.
“What are you going to do without my income once I’m back and reclaim my job? The stupid idea you’ve got they’re going to want you more than me, well, it’s just what I said, stupid. Lynn would never fire me and hire you, and he’d never demote me and put you over me. You’re just full of horseshit. Stay here; be an ass. I don’t care. This time, I’m having my way, and if you don’t like it, fine. I’m not your mom. You can’t throw a hissy fit and make me change my mind.”
I stood for another minute, but finally, there was nothing to do but go on without him. So, I wiped away my tears as best I could, said goodbye, and was on my way.
About Patty L. Fletcher
Patty Fletcher is a single mother with a beautiful daughter, of whom she is enormously proud. She has a great son-in-law and six beautiful grandchildren. From April 2011 through September 2020 she owned and handled a black Labrador from The Seeing Eye® named King Campbell Lee Fletcher A.K.A. Bubba. Sadly, after a long battle with illness on September 24, 2020 King Campbell went to the Rainbow Bridge where all is peace and love. It is her hope to one day return to The Seeing Eye® for a successor guide.
Patty was born one and a half months premature. Her blindness was caused by her being given too much oxygen in the incubator. She was partially sighted until 1991, at which time she lost her sight due to an infection after cataract surgery and high eye pressure. She used a cane for 31 years before making the change to a guide dog.
WHERE SHE LIVES AND WORKS…
Currently, Patty lives and works in Kingsport, Tenn.
She’s the creator and owner of Tell-It-To-The-World Marketing (Author, Blogger, Business Assist), The Writer’s Grapevine Online Magazine and the creator and host of the Talk to Tell-It-To-The-World Marketing Podcast.
Patty writes with the goal of bridging the great chasm which separates the disabled from the non-disabled.
See her newest release Pathway To Freedom Broken and Healed: Book One How a Seeing Eye Dog Retrieved My Life Second Edition and all her other published work on sale from 03/07-03/13/2021 at: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/PattyFletcher