I sat on the stairs in the front of our multi-apartment building, as i did quite often. I was a middle child and felt sad and alone for reasons I could not understand at that time. I noticed the comings and goings of the residents that had replaced my friend Julie and her family. They were an elder couple with a Doberman Pinscher, and drove a little black Ford Escort. My sad days turned into curiosity as I began to make it a nosey habit to watch them. I noticed the tiny little woman with the big dog often but had only seen the man a few times.
I was an amazed eight year old little girl with big questioning eyes and freckles, and one sunny day the woman must have noticed my investigations. She began to speak to me. “Hello, my name is Jane, and the is Striker. What is your name?”
“Loretta.” I answered her with quilt, as though I had just been busted being nosey and i remember the pounding of my heart against my chest, to this day.
I could tell all the inspirational stories of my life that have stemmed from that one day. I could share the many lessons this couple had taught me. I could and have written several entries regarding my life with Tim and Jane. I truly hope that one day I am read aloud and able to teach others what I have learned so very young in my life. For now, I will share in short form with all of you, the most important lesson of them all.
I had grown very close to the Tim, Jane, and Striker. I went on walks with them, shopping with them, watched trivia game shows with Tim, and sat through detective stories on the television with Jane. They encouraged me to read, to write, and to never stop learning. I sat through thousand piece puzzles with them and never chose playing outside over the company of two elders that shared their time with me. At times they would speak philosophically and say things such as Tim’s favorite. “Loretta, I do not care if you’re living under a bridge, the one thing that must always come first, is your mind because without it, you have nothing.”
Soon after I had met them and became part of their everyday lives, some very tragic accidents occurred for Jane. She had been bit in her leg because she tried to stop a dog fight, she had hit a man that stumbled out in front of her car after he had left a bar, and then discovered she had a tumor in her head. Between all of these situations, she had suffered a stroke that had left the woman I knew as always on the go, paralyzed and unable to utilize any part of her left limbs. She came home bound to a wheelchair, and understandably angry at her disability. Still she remained stubborn making the attempt to achieve a household alone, and as she managed to stand on her on to do dishes and still do a few things from her chair, she had yet another accident. Jane spilled a freshly made pot of coffee into her lap.
At eight years old, I began to sleep upstairs from my family to keep her company and assure her safety. I helped in her bathing and other bathroom needs, cooking and baking cookies for Tim to bring to work, cleaning, and read with her. I dyed her hair and set it in curlers, walked beside her as she walked up and down stairs with a cane watching her battle herself daily.
Tim had made straps to keep her feet on the pedals of her exercise bike from her wheelchair, and a brace to keep her paralysed foot from moving about while she walked, and she worked her arm by moving it around with her good hand.
I watched and sat by her for years until Jane had passed. I will never forget how she fought and struggled through the days regardless of what life threw at her. I will always remember saying to Tim that I admired that about Jane, and his response. Being an adult when Jane spread her wings, I knew what I had in Tim and Jane, but he made me understand that it was my belief in her ability to rise up that kept her fighting. He taught that I have what it takes to rise up also. I will live every single day knowing that I have this strength and will be forever grateful to have ever met them and to have walked with them through this life.
Today Tim too has spread his wings, and I believe they are together and are always looking after me. I have so many stories to share of days together, I have so many days to live because they gave me the knowledge to do so, and I have so much to share with you all because of the great memories we had all built together.