There Are Canines In The Therapy Gym

Two golden retriever service dogs rest in the shade while taking a break from their respective jobs. Each dog has a saddle bag on his back, identifying him as a therapy service dog, and both pets are looking at the camera.

They spotted him as soon as our feet hit the sidewalk.  It was an exciting moment as our girls saw a service dog entering the Easter Seals building. They began to walk faster and they were shouting “puppy” at the top of their lungs.  The puppy quickly disappeared around the corner once we entered the building.

The girls went with their occupational therapists and I retreated to the parent’s lounge to read my book. After 45 minutes had passed it was time for me to pick them up.  Hope’s OT immediately told me that Hope had trouble concentrating during her therapy.  There had been a couple of interesting visitors in the gym. Two service dogs had lit up Hope’s world.  One of them even licked her hand.  She was perseverating on the dogs so much that it interfered with her therapy.  She couldn’t stop talking about them. Her OT told her that if she didn’t stop talking about the dogs then they would have to leave the gym.  A miracle happened and Hope immediately stopped talking about the dogs.  I still can’t believe she was able to do that.  It’s very hard for her to get passed something once she becomes fixated on it.

The OT was laughing as she told us that Hope kept saying there were two canines in the gym.  She couldn’t believe that Hope knew that a dog is a canine.  Now isn’t that funny.  When we were coming in the front door the service dog was a puppy.  But he turned into a canine when she was with her therapist.  I guess Hopey felt like showing off her smarts a little bit.

The OT’s were still laughing about “a dog is a canine” when Mikayla matter-of-factly said “A cat’s a feline.”  The therapists continued to giggle and were amazed that she knew that.  Mikayla wasn’t about to let them think that Hope was the only smart one in the bunch.  Then I asked Mikayla “What’s a hamster?”  “It’s a rodent” she answered.  Then she went on to say “A dolphin’s a mammal.  A shark’s a fish.”  The therapists jaws dropped to the floor. They were both in shock.  I told them that animals are kind of their “thing”.  The therapists were  still laughing about canines and felines as they walked up the hallway.  And I’m pretty sure that I had a goofy grin on my face.

Success is in the everyday moments.  It’s when a letter starts at the top line and it ends at the bottom line.  It’s when the letters of a name are in the right order.  Success is when a math problem is a real life experience of 1 canine + 1 canine = 2 canines.  Or it’s when a little girl falls in love with a canine as he licks her hand.  Success can be two therapists celebrating the knowledge that two little girls have about animals.  It’s when you leave therapy feeling better than you felt when you came in.  Every success matters.  Every success has meaning.  And when we begin to add all of the successes together we realize how far we’ve come.  And it gives us hope and it helps us to dream about the future.




photo credit to

Throw It Away……And Don’t Drag It Back Out Again

000_0346I had put it off long enough.  It was time to stop making excuses and bite the bullet.  So I got up early and started my least favorite job on the planet. It was time to clean out the garage.  Oh joy.  I just love spending the day sorting, tossing, scrubbing, and sweeping.  Being bone-tired and achy afterwards is my favorite part of cleaning the garage.

I started in the toy corner.  What do we need to keep? And what can I throw away?  Of course we need to keep the sidewalk chalk, bubbles, bug boxes, and butterfly nets.  No question about any of those. But do we really need 7 pinwheels?  And 5 jump ropes?  Let’s see.  Two girls are too old to jump rope. And coordination disorder makes it difficult for the other two to jump rope. So I decided to keep 2 jump ropes as an act of faith that Mikayla & Hope will one day be able to use them.  Hmmm.  An ice cream bucket full of rocks?  That’s interesting.  I dumped the rocks out in the driveway to create a future opportunity to scoop rocks into an ice cream bucket.

As I made my way around the garage I made decision after decision of whether to keep it or pitch it. Some decisions were no brainers. Such as the New Holland pedal tractor that Grandpa gave Taylor on her first Christmas.  No question about that one.  Not parting with it under any circumstances.  And then there was the garden stone with Taylor’s footprints painted on it. Definitely have to keep that. But air filters to vehicles we no longer own?  And pool supplies when we no longer have a pool?  Some things just don’t make sense to keep.

Everything was going smoothly until what I feared the most became reality.  One of my little sweethearts woke up.  She put her shoes on and she joined me in the garage.  And she did what I knew she was going to do.  It was the reason why I got up so early to start this dreadful job.  She pulled something out of the trash can and she put it back on the shelf.  Oh my, sweet Hopey.  Why do you think we need to keep that?  I asked her to put it back in the trash.  She refused.

I was frustrated with her but I realized that she’s really just a mini-me.  I’m constantly throwing stuff in the trash and then dragging it out again. Things like unforgiveness, bad attitudes, impatience, and all the why’s and what if’s of life.  I know it doesn’t make sense to keep any of these things. But I’m guilty of throwing each of them away and then digging them back out again.

I’ve decided to forgive someone and I’ve thrown unforgiveness in the trash.  But then I would see the person and I would drag the unforgiveness back out again.  Sometimes it’s hard for feelings to catch up with forgiveness.  I can picture God looking down on me and saying “My sweet Tricia. Why do you think you need to keep that?  Would you please throw it away and don’t drag it back out again.” There’s no room for unforgiveness.   It doesn’t make sense to keep it.

It doesn’t make sense to hold onto all of the why’s and what if’s of life either.  Why’s and what if’s have haunted me for years.  What if I hadn’t had so many pregnancy complications?  What if our girls hadn’t been born prematurely?  What if I hadn’t listened to our pediatrician when he told us that they would catch up?  Would our girls still have all of these struggles even if all those things hadn’t happened?  Why did God think we could handle this life?  Why does life have to be so hard for our girls?

I’ve thrown every why and what if in the trash can.  But for some reason I have a habit of dragging them back out again.  It just doesn’t make sense to hold onto questions that can’t be answered.   But it’s so hard to let go.  I will probably still have moments when I’m just like Hopey.  I will choose to drag something out of the trash and put it on a shelf.  And God will smile at me and still love me. And He’ll patiently wait.  Because He knows I will one day decide to throw it back in the trash.  And maybe next time I won’t drag it back out again.

The Kindness of a Stranger

She hadn’t felt well for a few days.  The coughing and sore throat turned into cold chills, fever, and more coughing.  She researched and found that she had the symptoms of pneumonia.  I called the doctor’s office first thing the next morning and we were off to get an official diagnosis.

She was asked to wear a mask while we were sitting in the waiting room.  She looked so tired and pale. She couldn’t talk without coughing so I had to go back with her to answer all of the questions.  The first thing they did was take a strep test.  Negative.  Then we were asked to go to the hospital for a chest x-ray to check for pneumonia.

The receptionist handed me the x-ray orders and I turned to open the door to leave.  I felt her hand on my shoulder and I knew that something was wrong.  As I turned around I noticed that her eyes looked strange.  Everything had went fuzzy and then black.  I caught her before she went down.  The receptionist quickly grabbed a chair so that she could sit down and then she ran and got us a wheelchair so that I could get her to x-ray.

There I was walking through the hospital pushing my girl in a wheelchair. It was a strange feeling to know that she totally depended on me to get her to where she needed to go.  I had no idea when I woke up that morning that I would be thankful for a wheelchair. But I was.  We wouldn’t have made it all the way to x-ray without the wheelchair.

After the x-rays she climbed back in the wheelchair and we started on our way back to the van.  We took a different route leaving x-ray than the one we had taken going in.  I found myself faced with the obstacle of a closed door.  I opened the door and then I began to struggle with how to hold the door open and push the wheelchair.  Suddenly a man appeared and asked if he could help us.  I thanked him as he held the door open for us. He held a second door open that led to the outside.  I pushed my girl through the parking lot, she climbed in the van, and I took the wheelchair back to the doctor’s office.

The call came a few hours later.  The diagnosis was pneumonia.  I ran to the pharmacy. picked up the prescription. and knew that she would soon be healthy again.  But my heart still felt heavy.  It felt heavy for the mom who doesn’t get to take the wheelchair back into the doctor’s office and leave it. My heart felt heavy for the mom who has a child with a medical condition that isn’t going to go away with a quick trip to the pharmacy.

Today we pulled into the hospital parking lot.  She walked in and registered for her follow-up x-ray.  I was thankful that her temperature was normal and that she wasn’t coughing.  I was thankful that she didn’t have to depend on me to get her where she needed to go.  And I was thankful for the lessons that I learned.  Walking is a gift.  A wheelchair is a gift to those who aren’t able to walk.  Simply holding the door open for someone can be one of the kindest things you can ever do.  But most of all I learned to be thankful that this trial was temporary.  Because somewhere tonight there is a weary mom loading a wheelchair into the back of her van.  She’s hoping that someone will offer to open a door for her.  And she wishes her situation were only temporary.  But it isn’t.  As we lay our heads on our pillows tonight may we each say a prayer for her to have strength to face tomorrow.  And may we brighten her day tomorrow by smiling and holding the door open for her.