As I continue work on “Pathway to Freedom Broken and Healed: Book Two the Raw Truth, I realize I need to go back and reread the first book again. I need to find the dropped thread of the story so when I continue the tale I’ll know exactly where I left off and what I want to say.
Each week, I’ll share a bit of the book and if you’ve got questions, comments, etc. as we go along together, please put them in the comment section. Some may be answered as chapters are revealed, others may need to be answered in the next book. Your feedback will be most welcome and wanted.
If you’d like to discuss this book as you read, as well as whatever else you’re reading, please come to my Free to Be Me calls on Thursdays at 1 PM Eastern in the ACB (American Council of the Blind) Community.
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Email: firstname.lastname@example.org please put your name, your query to be signed up to the daily schedule call list and the email you wish it sent to.
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For now, let’s begin.
Missed the first chapter?
Didn’t get the second either?
Broken and Healed
How a Seeing Eye Dog Retrieved My Life
All Rights Reserved
Plaisted Publishing House Ltd
Using a mix of humor, heartbreak, and courageous honesty, author Patty L. Fletcher weaves a tale designed to educate and entertain.
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 guide dog school with her loveable Labrador King Campbell Lee, A.K.A. Bubba, life has revelations in store for Patty about herself and her fiancé she could hardly have believed were possible. Some are wonderful; others are disturbing, but all will change her life forever.
In the end, she finds freedom in ways that were, for her, totally unexpected.
My apologies for not posting this during our regularly scheduled ‘Sublime Sunday Reading’ I took Mother’s Day off.
It was the evening before ‘Dog Day,’ and I was more nervous than I could remember having been in quite a while. To me, it ranked right up there with the night my labor had been induced, and it seemed at times as if I could barely catch my breath.
The weather was warm. I sat outside on the smoking patio, chain-smoking until the security guard came to lock the door. Then I spent the next half hour or so walking the halls. I simply couldn’t settle down, no matter what I did.
Finally, obviously having heard me continuously pacing around like a caged animal, Drew popped out of his room, grabbing me by the arm as I passed by.
“What on earth is wrong? You’re going to carve a trail in the carpet if you don’t stop.”
“Sorry. I just cannot settle, no matter what. I don’t think I’ve been this nervous about anything since giving birth to my daughter. I’ve been listening to the lecture material on the thumb drive you all gave out. It seems like a lot of stuff to learn, let alone remember.”
Interrupting me in a soothing voice while guiding me back to my room, Drew said, “Honey, listen. At first, the most important things you’re going to need to know are right here in your heart.” Continuing in a reassuring tone, when we’d stopped in front of my door, he advised. “You have the ability to love, and in the beginning, it will be enough. And as you learn what to do to work with your dog, it will still be one of the most important things you’ll ever need to know. Now try to get some sleep.”
Finally, Dog Day arrived. I’d been asked to wait in my room, but I felt so excited I ignored Drew’s request altogether and went to a friend’s door. We eased our stress by whispering together about what breed of dog we might get and how we liked interesting names. We both loved dogs and wanted to give them the affection and attention that would encourage them to love us back. Suddenly I realized I’d been gone a little longer than I’d meant to. Wishing my friend good luck, I headed back to my room. My mind whirled with excitement and fear. I slipped back inside, feeling much relieved I’d not been caught sneaking about.
To calm myself, I reminisced about other dogs in my life. Rowdy was a rescue dog who had been with me for fourteen years. He was a black–and–white Beagle mix and only eight months old when he was found in a January snowstorm beside the Interstate. I was pretty sure someone had lost him because he had a Santa collar on when he’d been picked up by a passing motorist. When my vet’s office had let me know of him the day before Valentine’s Day, I’d decided he’d make an excellent gift for Polly. We’d gone together to meet him, and we’d immediately fallen in love, so we took him home. He was as sweet as the day was long but had a lot of energy, thus the name Rowdy. He grabbed my heart, and I still miss him. I wondered if I could love this guide dog as much as I had loved Rowdy, and for just a moment or so, I felt guilty for even trying.
I suppose I should explain a few things about Rowdy, Celine Kitty, and me. For many years while living in that apartment complex where I’d ended up with no job, no transportation, and basically no life, Rowdy Dog and Celine Kitty had, for the most part, been my only constant companions.
During her late teens, my relationship with Polly had been rocky at best, and for quite some time, she’d moved out and lived with my dad. It hadn’t been until she and my son-in-law Nathan had met and gotten together for good that the two of them moved back in with me, and even then, they were living their own lives quite apart from mine. For a long while, even after I’d moved into the apartments where my relationship with Donnie had truly begun, Rowdy was a great source of love and comfort to me. In many ways, he was an emotional support animal, and while it annoys me when people try to abuse that sort of status where those types of dogs are concerned, I more than understand and respect their importance.
In any case, while Donnie had Cassie—an elderly miniature poodle, we’d rescued a dog named Rocky in February of 2011. I hadn’t had a dog of my own to love and care for since Rowdy had crossed the Rainbow Bridge to the other side where all is peace and love. My guess is even from the Rainbow Bridge, Rowdy still tosses in a few antics just for fun. But at that moment, I was feeling in some strange way like I was betraying him.
Wrapped up in my thoughts of Rowdy, Cassie, Rocky, and how I might react to a guide dog, I forgot where I was for a moment. Sounds crazy, I know, since I was sitting there trying to wrap my head around the whole idea of learning to love a new dog, but to this day, I really don’t have the right words to describe the deluge of emotions I was feeling. I felt happy, excited, honored, and terrified, all bundled into one confused package.
That First Meeting…
Suddenly there was a knock at my door.
“Come in!” Goddess, had I screamed? I tried to calm myself, but suddenly I felt like a rocket ready to launch itself right into outer space. But Drew entered quietly with a dog padding along beside him. My excitement hadn’t seemed to faze either of them one bit. I suppose Drew saw a lot of excitement in his work and probably thought nothing of it. However, my senses were on hyper-alert status and were picking up and recording everything.
Then the leash was in my hand. “Patty, this is Campbell. C-a-m-p-b-e-l-l.” Drew said. His spelling the name was helpful because I don’t spell very well due to always listening to audiobooks.
“He’s a black Labrador, and he weighs about sixty-seven pounds. As Drew talked, Campbell decided he wanted to get to know something of me. He proceeded to put his big mouth around my arm and began chewing gently on it. It was both wonderful and frightening. Drew headed toward the door. “I’m going to give you two some time to get to know one another.”
I turned to him and asked a bit nervously. “You’re leaving me alone with him already? What if he gets really upset or something?” As I spoke, Campbell began to mouth me in earnest, and slobber began to drip down my arm. “W…W… What do I do with this…?”
Drew chuckled to himself as he opened the door and stepped out. “You’ll figure it out,” he said, “and I’ll be back later to check on you. Enjoy!” With that, he left, closing the door behind him.
Once I determined this big dog wasn’t going to eat me, I began to take a good look at him. Campbell sat obediently and let me explore his body. I felt his muscles and his head looked inside his mouth and smelled his ears. Yes, I smelled his ears! People kidded me for doing that since he’d just come from the groomer, but it turned out to be a good thing. Later, when I went to a lecture on teeth and ear cleaning, they told us we had to get to know how our dogs’ ears smelled, what their teeth felt like, and all sorts of other things we should commit to memory. In time I would learn how important such information could be. It can alert you to sickness, allergic reactions, and even reactions to stress.
Time wasn’t moving for me as I sat on the floor, petting and talking to Campbell. Even as trained as he was, he was trying to accept yet another new person into his life. If he heard a noise in the hall, he would get distracted and whine for Drew. I snuggled him close, telling him in a soothing voice he was safe in my loving hands. As the afternoon went on, he began to trust me. We both had a lot of love and faithfulness to give. My heart opened to him and his to me. Then and still today, I knew and know a dog, either guide or pet, requires love and reassurance just as any other living being does.
To be continued…
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. In July 2021, she returned to The Seeing Eye® and was paired with a Black Labrador Golden Retriever cross named Blue.
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.
Patty’s hobbies include reading, music, and attending book clubs via Zoom.
Some of her favorite types of tunes are classic rock, rhythm and blues, and classic country.
Patty enjoys fantasy, science fiction, and books about the supernatural. She loves books by Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Norah Roberts, and many more. Some favorite books include Norah Roberts’ Hide Away, Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, and J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series.
Patty describes herself as a spiritual Walker. She says she knows both Mother Goddess and Father God and embraces all they have to offer.