Writing is like being able to put life into a snow globe. It takes the things that are too big and scary and reduces them into a form that I can put away when I want and look at from a distance. It also takes all that’s good in life and captures it into something I can take out when I want and look at close up and keep forever. It makes the bad things into something I can hold…and the good things into something I can hold onto. Both help so much that I need that little souvenir of life.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sub Notes: Metamorphosis

I was subbing with mentally retarded high school kids. He fixed me with his winning smile and pointed in the direction of the book, asking me if I’d read it to him.

The other teachers and aides smiled. His favorite, they all said. He asked everyone to read it. So I got it out of the backpack he indicated at the back of his wheelchair.

It was a book about a happy puppy dog. The reading level was maybe first or second grade.

When I finished, he grinned, “Guess what? I was on TV once!”

“Wow!” I said. “How come?” I thought I was going to hear about Special Olympics.

“I was in a car accident!” he smiled. He might have been telling me about the toys Santa had brought him. “I used to be smart,” he said. “I got a 32 on my A.C.T.! But I got a head injury and got in this wheelchair. They did a whole special about me on TV!”

“Wow!” I said again. I mumbled something about what a great attitude he had and how he sure had reason to be proud. Then I busied myself with putting the book back in the carrier attached to his wheelchair. It took me a long time to put away.

It was a book about a happy puppy dog.

Enjoying the joys of others and suffering with them—these are the best guides for man. ~Albert Einstein


  1. I'm sorry to sound like a broken record, but CS has a call out for stories about being positive. Perhaps this could be fleshed out into a story?

    This was very moving, especially the end. I could see you fumbling as you put the book away...

  2. I have a cousin that's a special adult. When he was very young he had a cold. Just a normal cold. My aunt desperately wanted him to feel better so she put some liquid in an evaporating pot. Vicks? Something else? I'm not sure. People back then did this and no one ever thought twice about whether or not there could be consequences.

    Anyway, something happened that night. Too much of the vapor? The cold was much worse than a cold? Whatever it was after that he was considered to have a learning disability. My aunt spent most of her life trying to make it up to him. Her biggest fear, before she passed on, was that he wouldn't be able to take care of himself when she was gone.

    Well one day my aunt decided that they needed to move into a different house. One that he'd be better able to handle after she was gone. She had a little money saved up and a lot of equity in her old house, but there would still be a large gap to be paid in order to make it work. But she felt that while she was alive she'd be able to pay most of it down and what he was left with he could pay out of his own salary as a janitor.

    So she went into the bank and was very surprised at how nicely the bank president treated her right after she gave her name. She got right to it and told him what she needed and said that her son would be on the loan as well. I think she was looking for a loan of around $50,000 or so. "No problem", said the bank president, "We could arrange a loan up to $1 million for you at our best interest rates."

    My aunt was stunned. $1 million! She told that banker that she could never handle such a loan, although she appreciated the kindness he was showing her.

    Then he said "Don't you know about your son's account?" No, she didn't. Your son has $500,000+ on deposit with us in a savings account. She left with the paperwork for the $50,000 loan.

    She was stunned! Amazed! How could this be? So she asked her son about it when she got home. He had no idea how much money he had in the account. He just put his paycheck in it every week as he'd done so for nigh on 30 years. He never liked to spend money. You never know when you might need it, as she had taught him.

    That was when she knew he'd be okay. She could stop worrying about him. He had it covered. God had taken care of it for him - and for her.

    She passed a couple of years later comfortably. Her son was going to be alright on his own. I imagine her smiling down from heaven on him.

  3. About your story..

    It's people like this, and like you, that show me how grateful I should be for my life. People face such adversity. We're constantly having our patience and endurance being tested and we forget how little it really takes to make someone happy providing they're looking for the good rather than the bad.

    We should all be happy puppy dogs. There's so much to learn from them. Happiness isn't about what you have or can get - it's about being content with your lot in life as it is. Sometimes I forget that. Thank you for reminding me.

  4. A wonderful story of grace and humble acceptance of the deal life has dealt.

    I agree with Sioux. This would make an awesome CS story.

    Critter Alley

  5. Hi Tammy,
    What a touching story. How wonderful the young man has such a positive attitude and has touched so many lives.

  6. Three votes for CS. This will inspire many.

  7. Tammy - very touching story. I'll put in my vote, too. There is a larger lesson here, as Tom (above) says. Universal emotions. And you have a wonderful way with words. ; )

  8. It's both sad and beautiful at the same time. Write it. Tell us more about the happy puppy boy. You'll end up on the New York Times Bestseller List.

  9. Wow. Thank you all so much. I'M the one who's deeply touched....


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