Chapter 6 New Pathways for All: and Campbell Leads the Way
The next morning dawned cold, but sunny and bright.
I’d known my job at Contact was ending, and due to this fact, I did not want to allow myself – not even twenty-four hours worth of time – to waste by sitting and feeling sorry for myself. I had gone ahead the day before and scheduled an ADA van to take Campbell and me down to our Public Library. I’d made the decision to donate a book, and to schedule an event. To make certain I followed through and not succumb to my fears again, I’d called ahead to the Library and let them know we were coming. I always have hated to cancel anything, so I knew if I did this I was sure to go. It turned out that when I got there, not only did I donate a book for them to lend out, they also requested a book for their Historical Section. To me this was extremely exciting!
Not only did I feel that having my book in the historical section was an honor, I felt it was yet another way to gain recognition and exposure in the community.
I asked about scheduling an event and explained of how I wanted to work to raise awareness and funding for not only the ‘Seeing Eye’ and the work they do but for Multiple Disabilities such as Blindness, and Mental Illness as well; I learned that not only could I reserve a meeting room to set up a book sale table, but that they would allow me to do a speaking event. This was way more than I’d expected for my first day as a Self Published Author and Self Educated Motivational Speaker. After I’d signed and left the books for them, and made sure they had my information so they could contact me about dates and times, I decided to hang out a while. I wanted to become a presence in the library and I had my Laptop and Digital Reader so saw no reason not to. I turned back to the desk and asked, John the volunteer who had been helping me all along if he would assist us to a place where we could sit out of the way, and I could lay Campbell beside or under me, and work on my computer for a while. He was more than willing to help and after just a bit of instruction from me and some direction from him Campbell and I found a table.
I rummaged round in my pack and after just a moment came up with the new blanket Campbell had brought home in our gift pack from the Top Dog Convention. I spread it out between my chair and the wall,
and soon he was stretched out beside me snoring much too loudly for a library.
I’d easily connected to their wireless and was sending Facebook notifications and emails to friends and previous coworkers telling of our most recent success.
Just then the alert went off in my Email and I quickly tabbed over to the Outlook screen to see what new message had come.
I saw I had a reply from one of the Kingsport City Elementary Schools and it looked as though they were confirming the presentations we’d scheduled earlier in the month. Ms. Moore whom I’d talked on the phone with a couple of times, was writing to say that, Campbell and I were to come on Friday Morning to visit all the grades together in a morning assembly type gathering in the auditorium except for the second graders, they were scheduled to be gone on a field trip and when I’d learned of how very disappointed they were to be missing us. I’d asked if I might make arrangements to come back in the afternoon to see them.
As we’d chatted on the phone earlier in the month before confirming mine and Campbell’s appointment I’d assured her that it was absolutely no trouble by saying, “Campbell and I do not mind at all to do it. We can simply go home for an hour or so have lunch and a little walk for Campbell and be right back in the early afternoon. It’s no trouble at all.” I’d first connected with Ms. Moore via my supervisor Lynn Sorrell. He’d run in to her at an event and had suggested me for her school. I was ever grateful but I wanted them to understand that I was no longer with Contact and this was truly our work now, and I hoped word would spread that we were easy to work with, and that whenever possible we would be as accommodating as we could, as long as it was within reason.
We would visit with a Special Needs class after our main morning presentation, then go home for a short break after which we would return in the early afternoon for a surprise visit to the Second Graders.
I was beside myself with joy. Although Campbell really didn’t know what I was so excited and happy about once again what I’d learned in training about what we feel traveling up and down the leash between handler and dog showed itself to be true. My feelings seemed to be contagious because as we were leaving the Library a few minutes later to go and catch our bus Campbell was wiggling and wagging for all he was worth. Just as we stood and were about to make our escape he gave a big wiggly waggly, jingly jangly shake and I whispered, “Campbell that’s not very quiet or Library friendly.”
A person off to my left said with a soft laugh, “Mom sometimes you just gotta have a shake.”
I turned with a smile to the gentlemen who had spoken and after introducing the two of us gave him a business card and told him we’d see him around. It had been a great beginning to our new life, and I for one couldn’t have been happier. As we headed for home a few minutes later I said to Campbell, “Bug things are only going to get better from here.”
I had no idea how true those words would turn out to be.
When Campbell and I were dropped off a bit later in front of the house, I was surprised to see my nephew Aaron already awake, and out and about.
It was only around 2 O’clock in the afternoon, and he worked nights. He and my niece in law Michelle seemed to be up to something, but I was so excited about what I was doing, I really didn’t give it much thought. I waved and called to them, but they were getting in their car to leave, so we really didn’t do more than exchange hellos as they left. Later in the evening when we all got together to have dinner I learned that they were going to be meeting with Jane our property manager to discuss their possibly obtaining the apartment Campbell, Celine Kitty and I had called home for the first couple of years Campbell was home with me. I was thrilled, but did little more than dare to hope. It seemed so impossible. They’d not been on the actual lease very long downstairs, and I just wasn’t sure the company itself or the property owner would go for it, but they seemed to think they could do it, and who was I to say don’t try when all I did of late was to go round saying anywhere and anytime anyone would listen, “Take a chance, there’s a 50 percent chance you’ll be right”?
I wanted very much for them to be here, and I knew that they could not happily live downstairs with me for long. I crossed my fingers, said a very strong hopeful prayer and left it to them to handle. I wanted them to do it on their own. I knew it would be better all the way round if I simply stayed out of it. It would mean more to them, and besides, I’d already introduced them to Jane and she seemed to like them fine.
Finally Friday had arrived. The day dawned cold and gray. I was hoping for sun but the weather was calling for snow over the weekend, and I was doubtful of seeing much sun or warmth over the next few days. Campbell once again was more than feeling my excitement. I could barely get him to stand still for his grooming session. He pranced, he danced. Hopping from one foot to the other, wagging his tail any chance he could and when that didn’t seem to be quite enough to annoy me he would wait until I leaned over to brush his sides or underneath and lick me full on in the face. His tongue was so big that if he got me just right there would be a moment where I simply couldn’t get my breath. I scolded him ever so slightly saying, “O bug! Please! Be good we really need for you to be all shiny, soft, and clean. Lots of boys and girls are going to want to pet and love you today. You’re going to very much enjoy it, but you must be neat and clean to do so.” Finally we were all done, with me cleaned up and dressed, and he groomed and in his harness. As I was rushing round having a major attack of nerves and hunting frantically for my wallet the van pulled up out front and the driver began to make the backup signal go off very loudly! This set my nerves vibrating in ways I cannot even begin to describe. I flew down the narrow hall way and nearly knocked pour Michelle down in the process. “I’m sorry! I’m a nervous wreck, can’t find my wallet and now that driver’s making enough damn noise with that thing to wake the dead!”
Michelle laughed sleepily. She’d just waken up with the baby after having dozed off again after her oldest daughter left for school earlier in the morning. As I ran to the door to make the fool driver stop all that noise she said, “I’ll see if I can find your wallet.” She was back in a minute and handed it to me saying, “It was at the back of your dresser. Relax, you look great and yall will do fine.” She gave me a little hug and as she did the baby cooed to me in a sleepy sing song voice.
I almost burst in to tears. It had been so very long for me since anyone other than just a few friends had taken any interest at all in much that I was doing, let alone given me that type of support and it was almost overwhelming. Somehow though, I pulled it together, and soon Campbell and I were loaded up in the van and on our way.
Campbell seemed to know we were doing something new, exciting, and very important. When we boarded the van he sat very politely at my heel until I’d paid the driver, then he went obediently to his place and lay down without my even having to tell him. Once again my boy was making me extremely proud. On the way to the school I shared the fact that I’d left Contact, and was embarking on a new life, and that although I was still in the business of assisting people my mission in life had changed. All too soon we were pulling up in front of the school and I was taking instructions from the driver as to what to do when Campbell and I left the van.
I gave a wave good-bye over my shoulder then turned my full attention to what lie ahead. After grounding and centering myself once again and taking a deep cleansing breath I said simply, “Campbell! Forward! Inside!” and our new life officially began.