Being away from family and friends is hard when there are holidays and for Patty Fletcher, undergoing her training with her seeing eye dog Campbell, Easter was a challenge despite the kindness of those in the residential centre.
The Easter Bunny Came After All by Patty Fletcher
I have been asked over the years what my favorite Easter memory is. While I have many, and most of them are centered round my daughter and her growing up years the one I write of today happened while I was at The Seeing Eye training for my first dog guide.
Now let me tell you spending a holiday away from home is hard for me and that year was no exception. I was missing my grandchildren, my pets, and my then Fiancé, Donnie. We had no trips scheduled. It was of course Easter Sunday morning and the instructors were busy taking people to church, running errands and getting ready for a great Easter lunch.
I was in my room and was simply so home sick I could do nothing but lie curled in my bed and cry.
As I lie there feeling miserable and trying to think of something I could do to help myself feel better, I heard a soft knocking at my door. Not wishing to have anyone see me crying like a child away from home for the first time. I tried to ignore the one knocking in hopes they would simply think me out or asleep. That, however was not to be. Instead of going away whoever was knocking grew more persistent adding voice to their knock. I heard my instructor Drew’s voice from the other side of the door.
“Hey, I know you’re in there. Open up in the name of The Seeing Eye.”
I had to laugh despite myself. Throwing off the covers I’d been wrapped in I went to the door, trying to rub away the tears as I did so.
When I opened the door, Drew seemed to hop in to the room.
“OK Young Lady! Enough lying about like you’ve nothing to do! I have errands to run, and you need an extra trip to make sure you know all you need to know before I send you home with this big dog.”
I started to protest, we didn’t normally do trips on Sundays. but that would’ve only been a half truth. Drew and I had done several Sunday trips for just the reason he’d given. So, rather than argue with him, and risk a twenty-minute lecture while trapped in the van, I put on my shoes, washed my face, and harnessed up my pup.
Soon we were riding down the road with the windows open and music blasting, and I had to admit I felt better.
As it turned out Drew had some errands to run for students at the school, one of them being his own. Devin, the other first timer in our little group, was going to play a trick on Sue another instructor.
The two of them had been going back and forth playing tricks on each other all through class.
I knew some of the details but had decided to refrain from helping.
Once in the store my home sickness returned. As we walked through the aisles picking up the items on Drew’s list. I could literally smell the chocolate bunnies as we passed them. Something must’ve shown on my face because Drew asked me.
“What’s the sad face about? I thought we left that on the side of the road.”
“Sounds stupid I know, but I always get an Easter bunny and I didn’t this year. I thought for sure Donnie would’ve sent me one, but he didn’t even call today.”
“AWW Well, maybe the mail is just behind. Who knows? A package might come tomorrow.”
He began to talk to me about other things, but my sadness remained.
When we stopped by the flowers later in another store on our route, so he could pick out gifts for his wife Peggy, and his mother I was envious of the obvious love he had for both. It showed in the way he went about choosing their flowers. Once all our errands were done we headed back to the school.
“Thanks Drew.” I said. “I appreciate your taking me with you today. I needed to get out.”
“It was my pleasure. I couldn’t have you moping about all day on Easter. That is no way to get the Easter Bunny to visit.”
“I don’t believe in the Easter Bunny anymore.” I said, giving another sigh.
“Don’t believe in the Easter Bunny?”
I had to laugh. The way he said it made it sound like I’d said Campbell didn’t exist.
“Nope. Not anymore.” I couldn’t help it.
The feelings of sadness just wouldn’t let go.
“Now listen here! Young Lady! The Easter Bunny most assuredly does exist. He is like Santa, in every single one of us. So, you just dry your eyes and get rid of that pouty face, else he is gonna hop right on by you.”
I smiled. “Um? Drew? The Easter Bunny would’ve already come if he were going to. He is supposed to come on Easter Eve. You know? Like Santa comes on Christmas Eve.”
Drew just laughed and for a few minutes neither of us spoke.
Later that day as we settled in to our places round the tables set up for lunch I found a miniature Easter basket sitting by my plate. The server standing there explained that John Keane had played Easter Bunny and had made the baskets. I cannot tell you how that warmed my heart. Lots of people had spoken of Mr. Keane as being a man who was strict. Some even used the word militant, and while he could be that way at times I’d found him to be kind and caring. This act of kindness only strengthened my belief.
When Drew came round to say happy Easter to all of his students, and to let us know he was leaving for the day I said, “Look, baskets!”
He reached out and pulled a strand of my hair.
“See, the Easter Bunny.”
“No, Mr. Keane.” I said, while eating jelly beans.
“Hey! Save that candy for after lunch, you’re gonna spoil your appetite.”
He tried to move my basket away from me, but I held fast. “Leave! It! Gibbon!”
I said reproachfully, and he laughed again.
“So, you still don’t believe in the Easter Bunny huh?”
“Nope, but I do believe in kind people.”
“OK, good enough. Have a good day and behave yourself. The Easter Bunny might still be watching.” I sighed and began to work on the shrimp Cocktail the server had just placed in front of me.
“Classy appetizers.” I said round a mouth full of shrimp.
“Save room, there is steak too.”
“O! I don’t eat steak in public.”
“Because I do a crappy job of cutting meat.”
“How do you like your steak?”
“Medium rare, but…”
He was gone before I could say anymore, and when he returned he said,
“They’re cooking your steak and will bring it to you cut. You can’t not have some, it’ll be awesome, now have a good day, ok?”
I tried to give him my best smile, but despite all the happiness round me, and great things being done for me that darn sadness was still creeping round. He gave my hair one last tug wished us all a happy day and was gone. As soon as his presents was gone from the room my sadness deepened, but I worked hard not to show it.
Back in my room after lunch I closed the door, and after letting Campbell out of his harness and loving on him a bit, I went to my bed to lie down. There on my pillow was a miniature chocolate Easter Bunny. I sat down on my bed and cried. Not with sadness though, with joy. The Easter Bunny had come after all.
©Patty Fletcher 2018
About Patty Fletcher
Patty Lyne Fletcher in her own words (October 2017
I’m a 49-year-old single mother with a beautiful daughter, of whom I am very proud. I have a great son-in-law and five beautiful grandchildren. Three girls, and two boys. I hope to be able to write more about them later on.
I own and handle a Black Labrador from The Seeing Eye™ named Campbell Lee—a.k.a. Bubba Lee or King Campbell, to give just a couple of his nicknames.
I was born on November 9, 1967 in Kingsport, Tenn., where I also grew up.
I was born one and a half months premature. My blindness was caused by my being given too much oxygen in the incubator. I was partially sighted until 1991, at which time I lost my sight due to an infection after cataract surgery and high eye pressure. I used a cane for 31 years before making the change to a guide dog.
Read more about Patty Fletcher
Books by Patty Fletcher
One of the reviews for Bubba’s Tails
Wow! I loved reading this! What an amazing story about an incredible journey. This is about a journey from The Seeing Eye, Inc. in New Jersey to Kingsport Tennessee, but is also about the journey of a loving owner, and her special canine companion. I loved reading the story through King Campbell’s point of view, and how he is talking to the next litter of pups about to train as Seeing Eye Dogs. This is something the has always fascinated me and was the first time I was really allowed a look at some of what goes into training these special dogs. The book is made all the more exciting because the author and her dog Campbell went through this journey years ago. Such a creative way to share their story, and I can’t wait to read more of King Campbell’s Bubba Tails!
Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/default/e/B00Q9I7RWG/
And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Patty-L.-Fletcher/e/B00Q9I7RWG/
Patty has also contrituted to two anthologies
December Awethology Light https://www.books2read.com/u/3yPZvB
A Treasure Chest of Children’s Tales https://www.books2read.com/u/bzaAML
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