A constant inspiration

When I was young I had many heroes.  I still have a few, not so many in my cynical old age but a few.

 There are a great many  brave people who I admire and respect. All the rescue services, who put their own lives in danger to rescue those in peril on sea and land. There are  those who protect us in many fields and often lose their lives in the doing.

 There are the so-called ‘ordinary’ people who battle against odds that would floor us, those that endure famine, earthquake and other disasters.  Life is full of bravery.  I will have missed so many but today I want to tell of my own home grown hero, someone whose courage leaves me slack-jawed in awe.

 My sister.  Some of you will know she is embarking on training with a new guide dog.  It is not her first; she has been through 16 years of guide dogs.  So what’s the big deal then? You may ask.  Well this time around is different, this time there is no sight to help.  There is very little hearing to aid.

 She has always had a hearing problem and when we were children it was my job to protect her from bullying.  She was my older sister and I resented that she wasn’t looking after me.  I resented that she seemed to get more attention than me.  Selfish? Yes. What are small children but self-contained bundles of self survival, and that equals selfishness. Until empathy has developed selfish is a child.  I didn’t actually know her very well as she was sent away, to a special boarding school, when I was a toddler, so holidays were all the time we had.  It was as adults we became friends.  As adults I became to appreciate her more.

 Her sight has relentlessly deteriorated over the years.  Through it all she has smiled.  She has worked and earned her own living, she has travelled half way across the world to live in a foreign land for four years.  She has had fun, made friends and enjoyed her life. She eventually had to learn how to use a cane to get around, then she had to give up employment. Finally her sight became such that a guide dog was deemed best.  They gave her another lease of life as she approached retirement age.

 This time around though, what little sight she had when first she trained with the dogs, has vanished.  Gone. Nothing. Now, with one step in the 7th decade doorway, she trains with her new dog in complete nothingness.  Each day I watch as she leaves the house, with a smile, determined to win, back straight, head up. If the day goes badly I hold her hand and tell her all will be well.  She sleeps in utter exhaustion each night and the next day she leaves with a smile, back straight, head high and begins again.

 She doesn’t have to do this.  No judgement call if she decides enough is enough.  She could sit in the relative safety of her home and go out when others can take her. Has she even considered it?  I doubt it. Life is for living.

 I am sure that confronted with nothing, I would not be able to trust myself out there amongst the people and the traffic.  Trust myself on kerbs and around obstacles that abound, connected only to a dog, however marvellous the dog is.  I would be terrified.  Is my sister terrified? I don’t know, she would never say.  However depressing the training may have been, within a couple of hours she is smiling again and re-playing the mistakes to correct them before the next day. I am not a fan of the word but today I say Awesome!  She has so much courage.  She is my hero.

 Of course this is not just about my sister, this about all those millions who do not choose a life of  such challenges but nevertheless have them, who do not confront each day of difficulty because an adrenalin rush fuels them. This is aboutthose, you may be one, or you maybe know them, who wake each morning and ‘live well’ despite every obstacle thrown at them.

 This is an awestruck old lady writing who says, ‘I don’t know how you do it, but you are, all of you, especially my sister, a constant inspiration’.

21 thoughts on “A constant inspiration

  1. shanjeniah says:

    Such a richly lovely post.

    The other day, driving from Jim’s appointment with the plastic surgeon who repaired his broken hand, we witnessed a man and his guide dog crossing the busy four-lane road in front of our state museum. We were waiting at the light, and got to be witness to their impressive teamwork, and the treat the dog received at the opposing curb.

    I thought of you, and your sister, and the new and retired dogs. That made me happy. We had a nice family discussion about it.

    I have nominated you for the Kreativ Blogger Award. You can claim it here:


    • alberta says:

      four-lane road eh! that is impressive, I liked the treat at the end , my sister always gives a treat and, if not causing a traffic jam herself, a kiss as well!! she has managed a couple of solo runs now and her confidence is returning in spades- 2 weeks on this route and then she starts again.

      I hope that hand recovers well – how bad was it ? I smashed mine up 12 years ago walking mum’s dog! (told her she wasn’t safe to walk her dog any more, I would instead(bossy know it all daughter!) – ended up in hosp. for a month – she didnt stop laughing for ages:)

      thank you for the award

  2. Dani G. says:

    Yes, your sister is one of the true (s)heroes in life. Amazing story!

  3. Monti Sikes says:

    Of course, I meant sight!


    • alberta says:

      I knew it:) keyboards eh! they will take the mike sometimes –

      The new dog is shaping up to be a champion – so eager and willing – has settled in here very well – they too are amazing when you consider they spend their first 12 months with the puppy walker then get moved into training school for a few months to leatn the basics, then go to the ‘trainer for a couple of months to be prepared for their new owner – then go to their new owner – she will be two in a few weeks and we are her 4th home! so it is hard for the dogs as well, but she looks at my sister now with tail wags and excited little skips and she will give years of great help. Amazing bond between human and dog

  4. Monti Sikes says:

    How strong she must be! How sad that she has lost her site! I’m glad she has the dog.

    Mary Montague Sikes

  5. morganmandel says:

    Reading what some people have to endure day by day makes me realize how incredibly fortunate I am!

    Morgan Mandel

    • alberta says:

      Me too – of course it doesn’t do away with our own problems and angst – but it does help to keep life in perspective – I could equally have written on behalf of the refugees of the world – My sister just embodies for me, how courageous a person can be.

  6. Your sister is an amazing person. Smaller things have stopped smaller people. She’s a real inspiration!

  7. marianallen says:

    Thank you for sharing, Alberta. How blessed you are to have someone like your sister in your life! And how blessed she is to have you to hold her hand at the end of a hard day and let her know she isn’t alone.

    Hugs to you both!

    Marian Allen
    Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

    • alberta says:

      Someone to hold one’s hand during difficulties is one of the best – She has always held mine through all my illness and operations – was my steel rod when nursing my mother – sometimes the day resembles a monty python sketch around here (anyone living with a severly deaf person will know what I mean:), but we can always finish the day with a laugh – so important

  8. Julie Glover says:

    Wow, that is inspiring. I’m always amazed at the difficulties folks with certain disabilities overcome. What a testament to the human spirit…and to your sister, of course.

    • alberta says:

      oh yes to all of them – my sister is the first to say there are others in a worse case than her – some people have so many difficulties I just do not know how they get up in the morning – the post was for them all

  9. KM Huber says:

    Beautiful writing, Alberta, truly the post inspires every one of us, whatever our situation is, which is precisely what fine writing does. From this point of view, both you and your sister are inspirational.


    • alberta says:

      thank you for the kind words – I hope people like my sister, and there are so many, are inspirational. The human spirit and its ability to survive no matter is so much what makes us human.

  10. S. J. Maylee says:

    An inspiration and a hero, thank you for sharing your sister with us today. You’ve touched a special part of my heart :)

    • alberta says:

      I felt she needed a post to herself – she had a bad day on friday and set of today with such a positive attitude I just felt the need to say yay for my big sister and all like her. Thanks for your comment

  11. The tears haven’t quite formed but they’re trying. What a beautiful post. I envy your sister’s positive demeanor and outlook on life and hope to remember it when I start to sulk and utter” why me?” for something as inconsequential as having to sweep up cat litter right after I’ve washed the floor.
    Your relating as a child also gives me some insight to how my mother and aunt probably felt about their middle sister who was developmentally delayed,(back in the 20’s when they were girls). By the way – she outlived them both, residing independently for the first time in her life for an assisted living facility for the final seven years of her life, passing away at the age of 89
    Thanks for reminding me of this.

    • alberta says:

      I think my sister might outlive me too:) but oh how I mutter when cat litter gets on a clean floor!! well actually more of a howl of anger:) no – I think many siblings of a child with any kind of problem has a hard time coming to terms with having less ‘attention’ – when we are old enough to appreciate the ‘attention’ is not so good we can back off and learn.

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