Sublime Sunday Read – Pathway to Freedom Broken and Healed: Book One How a Seeing Eye Dog Retrieved My Life Second Edition 2020 –Chapter Two #Blindness #disAbility #DomesticViolence

Sublime Sunday Read – Pathway to Freedom Broken and Healed: Book One How a Seeing Eye Dog Retrieved My Life Second Edition 2020 –Chapter Two #Blindness #disAbility #DomesticViolence

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. For now, let’s begin.

Missed the first chapter?

Read it here.

Pathway to Freedom

Broken and Healed

Book One

How a Seeing Eye Dog Retrieved My Life

Second Edition

Patty Fletcher

Copyright 2020 Patty L Fletcher

All Rights Reserved

Plaisted Publishing House Ltd

The cover of "Pathway to Freedom". 
A garden with rocks and pebbles, surrounded by grass and trees. To the left, a bench sits below a tree with a seated dog silhouetted on the grass in front of it. An ethereal glow of gold and green shines through the middle of the picture with the title of the book written in fantasy style lettering in darker gold and with black shadowing.

Introduction

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.

Chapter Two:

Journey to The Seeing Eye

No Good Excuse…

April 2nd, 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 had 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 would 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 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. I must say my dad wasn’t impressed with Donnie’s lack of interest. Although he said nothing much about it, I knew Dad well enough to know he didn’t like it at all. Honestly, I knew Dad had never truly cared for Donnie. I knew, in fact, he and most of my family only tolerated him for my benefit. Donnie had never tried to ingratiate himself into the family, never attended family gatherings, and like now, never gave a good excuse as to why.

For whatever reason, though, rather than realize this was a red flag, I chose to defend his behavior, and even as I sat there in the car, embarking on what would indeed be a life-changing journey, I tried to justify his behavior yet again.

“So, he’s not coming?” Dad questioned in a voice of undisguised disgust.

“No, says he’s got plans already made with the kids.” I sighed.

“Patty, what ten-year-old boy doesn’t like an airport?” Dad demanded.

“Dad…” I let my words trail off. I loved Dad, but at times our relationship was strained too, and on this beautiful day, this day that would forever change my life, I simply couldn’t find the energy to argue with him.

Donnie and I had fought until after midnight. I’d not eaten breakfast because my stomach was in knots, and now, my heart was hurting because I knew deep inside there was something seriously wrong with our relationship.

My dad, obviously not wanting to get into it before I flew off into the great unknown, simply changed the subject, and I found myself much relieved.

Disconnected and Desperation…

It wasn’t an easy trip. The first problem was my flight from the Tri-Cities to Charlotte, North Carolina, was delayed, and my connecting flight had to be changed. When I arrived in Charlotte, I found I’d missed my connection and was delayed again. Due to all the confusion, even ‘The Seeing Eye’ didn’t know exactly where I’d flown off to. I’d forgotten to turn my cell phone back on while in the airport, so I’d become unreachable.

After what was nearly a two-hour wait, I was finally in the air again and on the last leg of my journey to Newark, New Jersey.

When the plane landed, it was four hours past my original scheduled arrival time, and I was exhausted and hungry. When the gate agent got me to the driver who was to take me to the school, I was immediately frustrated because the driver seemed to speak very little English. Also, she remained on her cell phone almost the entire time we were together. I’d very much wanted to stop for a bathroom break before leaving the airport, but I wasn’t able to get her to acknowledge me when I asked. I was never sure if it was because she didn’t understand or simply wasn’t paying attention. Of course, this immediately added to my stress.

Once at the school, the driver left me in the lobby and walked away.

Sitting there on the couch, I began to take stock of my surroundings. Taking a few deep breaths to calm myself, I listened to the ambient sounds of the building. It has always been my way to listen to things like heat pumps, echoes of distant conversations, and people’s comings and goings when in a new place. It gives me a sense of understanding of how things are supposed to be. After a while of having this running in the background, not only do I have a feeling of familiarity, but I can then pick up on things quickly if something goes wrong. I learned at an early age that being aware of my surroundings can be helpful in an emergency.

Suddenly I was jarred from my thoughts by a voice just to my right.

“Hello, Ms. Fletcher. I’m one of the nurses here at the school, and your instructor asked if I’d show you to your room. He’s sorry he couldn’t be here to greet you, but there’s a meeting starting in just a few minutes, and he’s busy settling his other students upstairs.”

Standing, I reached for my suitcase. But the nurse, whose name I don’t think I ever got that night, already had it and was offering me her arm. Taking it, I followed her down the hall. I tried to pay attention to which way we were going, but soon I was totally disoriented and decided to give up. I knew I’d learn my way soon enough. Besides, I really needed the bathroom. Once we reached my room, the nurse showed me a chair, set my suitcase down, and, as she started from the room, said, “I’m sure someone will be here to take you to the meeting shortly. I’ll see you around.” And with that, she was gone.

Again, I felt frustrated. On top of this, I was beginning to feel perhaps I’d made a mistake in coming at all. I was near tears and feeling very much out of my element. Finally, out of pure desperation, I decided to get out my cane and explore the room to see if I could locate the bathroom independently. After I wandered disjointedly about for several uncomfortable moments, my cane poked into an open door, and as I stepped through, I was met with the smell of hand soap and freshly laundered towels. I knew I’d found the bathroom at last.

“Ah! Thanks be! I was beginning to think I was going to float right on out of the school.”

To say I was much relieved would’ve been a humongous understatement.

I’d just come out and was straightening my clothes when finally, my instructor knocked on the door.

Introduction and Disoriented…

“Hello. Are you Patricia Fletcher?”

As I finished straightening my shirt, I thought but didn’t say, “How many students do you have who are four-hours late?” Instead, I said with a tired smile, “Yes, but please call me Patty. Whenever I hear the name Patricia, I know I’m in trouble.”

He laughed. “My name’s Drew Gibbon, and I’ll be your instructor while you’re here.”

I stepped forward to shake his hand and staggered slightly.

Drew reached out to steady me, then gently settled me into the chair the nurse had shown me earlier. With a note of concern in his voice, he asked, “Are you alright? You look a bit pale.”

“Yes, I’m okay, but I believe my blood sugar may be dropping. I’ve not had anything except a very expensive can of Pringles and a can of beer since nine o’clock this morning. So, as much as I hate to be a bother right off the bat, I’m starving. And I could probably handle a smoke, too.”

“Well, we’ve got a meeting starting in about ten minutes. So the smoke is out for the moment, but I can promise food. You think that might help?”

Giving an exhausted little sigh, I said, “I think it’s a great start. Could I maybe get a cup of coffee, too?

“Absolutely”

“Deal! Lead the way.”

I got a bit unsteadily to my feet, took his arm, and we went up to the meeting. As we walked, Drew began describing things to me, and this put me at ease. I’ve always liked knowing what’s around me, especially if I’m going to be staying somewhere for any length of time.

Once upstairs, I was brought a lovely plate of supper and a big mug of wonderfully hot, strong coffee. That did a lot to improve the way I felt.

After the meeting, Drew told me he needed to do another Juno Walk with me to get a better idea of me and my stride—all before we began training the next day. He said even though I’d had a Juno Walk when I’d first been evaluated by the field rep before I’d been accepted into training, he needed to walk with me himself. Although I was terribly exhausted, I knew this second Juno walk had to be done. It wasn’t Drew’s fault my fiancé had been an ass and started me off upset, or my plane had been late on both legs of my journey. Nor was it his fault he hadn’t been in the lobby when I’d arrived. So, I agreed with no argument.

Before we began, I explained to him that I’d moved since the rep had been to see me. I told him about the nicer residential area I lived in versus the apartment complex environment I’d been in when I was evaluated the first time.

Shortly after we began, we discovered I was having a problem with the difference between left and right. It seemed as though I’d simply forgotten all I’d ever known about direction. As Drew took me through the building, teaching me the layout, he laughingly asked me if I’d forgotten to pack my sense of direction, and with a smile in his voice, he suggested I have someone get it to me via UPS.

Until going through the guide dog training program, I’d never realized how much trouble I had where Spatial Disorientation was concerned. Since then, I’ve done some reading on the subject. I’ve found, in some cases, it worsens as people age. I must say it was a cause for concern on more than one occasion during training, but obviously, it wasn’t something I couldn’t overcome.

After we’d completed the Juno Walk, Drew began to show me more about my room. He guided me around, describing everything in great detail. This did a lot to dispel my unease. As he explained to me what was already housed in various dresser drawers, such as toilet paper and towels for drying our dogs on rainy days, as well as extra blankets on the top shelf of my closet, I began to plan where I’d keep things while there. This made me feel much more at home.

Leaning over to see how the nightstand was made, I nearly hit my head on the headboard of my bed. Drew quickly reached out and caught me.

“Hey, lady!” he cautioned. “Ya might want to watch that! You’ll end up knocking yourself out cold, flat on the floor!”

We laughed, and I asked him where I could go to smoke. He told me there was a smoking room upstairs and a patio downstairs, but they were both located off the men’s wing, and he wasn’t sure if I could go there yet or not. I folded my arms, turned to face him, stood as straight and tall as I could, and firmly informed him should he decide there was nowhere for me to smoke, he would very quickly learn he wouldn’t enjoy having me as a student. I had the feeling he was messing with me, but I was starting to feel a bit frazzled and wasn’t having it.

Amazingly enough, he did find a place, but it wasn’t in either of the designated areas. After finally having a smoke and then going to the lounge on my floor to get a drink, I decided I’d simply had enough for one day and got ready for bed. The next day would be hectic, so I knew sleep was my best option.

As I was getting things unpacked, Drew knocked on my door and asked if I was settling in all right. I told him I was feeling a bit anxious and overwhelmed. He stood and talked with me for a bit while I finished arranging things in my room, and his gentle manner began to put me even more at ease. I found him to be patient, kind, and understanding. As I unpacked my medications, he asked a few questions, which I happily answered. When I had filled out my application, I’d also told the school about my bipolar disorder and fibromyalgia. I felt it was important for them to know all they could about me. This was to make the best match possible for me where a dog was concerned; my instructor would also have all the information they’d need to make my training go more smoothly.

I explained to Drew about my bipolar disorder and what it entailed. I didn’t go into extreme detail, but I did explain about mood swings and what things would trigger them. I also explained about the pain my fibromyalgia caused me. As it turned out, we would have another, more detailed discussion about all these things later, but my fear he wouldn’t understand quickly dissipated by how he handled the information I gave him. He didn’t seem to be at all put off by anything I told him. In fact, it appeared he understood reasonably well. All this was a huge relief to me, and I found being able to chat with him a bit went a long way toward helping me through my first night. Not only did having him know these things about me make me feel better, but it helped me to trust him and feel safe with him, and those two things were essential for me.

Over the years, I’ve sometimes had bad experiences in blind institution settings. Drew would not only oversee my training; in many ways, he would also oversee my care. Thus, it was very comforting to have him understand and make me feel safe and secure, and it did indeed help throughout my training.

To be continued…

A soft green circle with a light blue border and handwritten text reading Patty’s World. The text is also light blue with a teal outline. The circle is topped with headphones, a microphone is in the foreground, and grapevines wrap around the border.

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’S BLINDNESS…

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.

WRITING GOAL…

Patty writes with the goal of bridging the great chasm which separates the disabled from the non-disabled.

HOBBIES…

Patty’s hobbies include reading, music, and attending book clubs via Zoom.

FAVORITE TUNES…

Some of her favorite types of tunes are classic rock, rhythm and blues, and classic country.

FAVORITE READS…

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.

SPIRITUAL FAITH…

Patty describes herself as a spiritual Walker. She says she knows both Mother Goddess and Father God and embraces all they have to offer.

CONTACT…

Email: patty.volunteer1@gmail.com

 

Find Patty on Smashwords.

Find Patty on Amazon.

Find Patty on Goodreads.

Walk alongside Patty and Chief Seeing Eye® Dog Blue on the Pathway to Freedom.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *