Friday, August 24, 2012

Pay it Forward

 After staring at my computer screen from 5 AM until 5 PM yesterday and being visited at 3 AM by my worst enemy, the nasty migraine, I started to ask myself "Why?". My husband has been warning me for years that the computer screen is one of my enemies, in addition to MSG, lack of sleep, not eating enough, tannins, wine, beer, and on and on, all conspiring to attack me in the middle of the night.
I’ve been able to give up the long list when I’m not too lazy to read labels, but the computer screen is part of my life. So I guess I’d better just take breaks. The only problem has been that my idea of a break is to read a book on my Kindle, oops, another screen. Will I ever learn?
So why are we doing this, working feverishly trying to educate, to get the word out about how much service dogs can change lives? Liz, my daughter and partner in crime says she remembers my telling her when she was very little that with a brain like hers, she’d better contribute to society. So she ended up in research, and dragged me along to help her put her very complex ideas into words. Her mind works so fast that sometimes I think I might be one of the few people who can disentangle her thoughts. 
So we’ve been working together for what seems like forever. In fact forever isn’t really an exaggeration. When she wrote a book while in graduate school, we sent the chapters back and forth from the west to the east coasts via FEDEX. Email is really much more affordable and efficient. 
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the culture of paying it forward. About two years ago we had a flat tire on I-95 in the middle of the night. Someone stopped and changed it for us, wouldn’t accept any help from my husband, who was perfectly capable of changing it himself, and wouldn’t accept anything except a thank you.
Last Saturday we took a ride on our motor scooter and turned down a deserted road leading to Everglades National Park. A few miles off the main road we found a service van that had gotten stuck in the mud while trying to turn around. Some park rangers had stopped, but they didn’t have a clue as to how to free him from the mud. So, remembering the experience we had in Mexico when a bunch of workers came out of the fields and pushed our motor home out of a ditch, we told the useless rangers how to free the van and helped them push it out.
When we returned 20 minutes later, the van and the driver were still on the side of the road. So we helped him change his flat tire and sent him on his way. The entire episode took about three hours out of our afternoon, but, at the end of the day, my husband said to me “We had a great adventure.” 
Money really isn’t everything. If more people paid it forward, perhaps our country wouldn’t be so divided. We won’t make much from our service dog work. We’re trying to cover our expenses and pay for our time (It’s been 2 people, 2 years so far, at no pay.), but we will show people that they can improve their quality of life.
The webcast has been approved for continuing education credits for nurses. We’ve begun to work with the VA and will adapt it for others in the medical community. that we’ve spent the last eight months perfecting has finally been   Together we’ll all be able to help people who really need it.

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