Last week was a sad one. A dear friend of mine named Becky lost her battle with cancer. She will be missed by many because she was quite an impressive lady. The rest of this story is going to be upbeat because that’s what Becky would have wanted. That’s just who she was.
You never went away from time spent with Becky without feeling better about yourself and the world in general. She had this Pollyanna view of the world and she believed so hard that we all wanted to be a part of that vision. Her’s wasn’t an idle vision. She did realize that as part of being human, we all need help. And that’s where she went into action. She would roll up her sleeves and help. People, animals, you name it and she wanted to be part of the solution. She was there for people, family, dear friends, or acquaintances, often even strangers. She would show up with a gift of food, an offer of transportation, a shoulder to cry on. She would see a need and fill it. And she would do so joyfully or commiserate with you. Whatever you needed, she provided. Becky was one of the most selfless people I have known. I am fortunate to have called her friend.
Many of Becky’s interests paralleled my own. Of course this means they involved dogs! I met her through my, new at the time, husband. They were friends from church. I hadn’t known Becky for too many months when she told me that between us she thought we could start a 4-H Petpals group. This is an animal assisted therapy group, kind of like therapy dogs but employing other types of animals too. Her daughter Rachel was also a founding member of our Petpals group. She had Rachel helping and working with us every step of the way. (Rachel is also a wonderful human being -she learned from the best. Like mother, like daughter. But that is a story for another day.) So we all had dogs certified to visit residential care facilities and some of “our kids” had rabbits that visited too. Previously if someone had told me that I would be involved as a 4-H advisor and supervising visits between pets, kids, and residents, I would have responded “Say what?” But Becky suggested it and I believed it was possible. Not too mention that meant I got the added benefit of spending time with her. She had that effect on people. And you know what? She was right. She went around spreading her special brand of magic, making others believe too. And more often than not, people rose to the occasion.
Becky also became a Professional Certified Dog Trainer. She helped a friend of mine with dog training issues. At no cost of course. She helped local rescues train their dogs so that they would be more adoptable. She and her family raised several dogs for seeing guide dog groups. She was involved with training for the Cell Dog programs in correctional facilities. She spread love to the people as she went about her work too. All the 4-H kids knew she cared about them. The seniors and kids that were visited knew her sincere and caring ways. The folks in the dog program in jail were recipients of her thoughtfulness from magazines she saved for them to her kind, listening ear.
And Becky was involved in so much more. Church groups and causes, school events, sporting events, local issues, veteran’s events, and too many more to list. I’m sure that I don’t even know all the causes and people she helped. And through it all, she was a caring and thoughtful mother.
And when Becky was diagnosed with her illness, do you think it slowed her down? She may have reprioritized her life to take advantage of what was most important to her but she kept on going and doing those things. She continued to help others. She still volunteered and found ways to brighten the days of others. Over the past year she sent me a thinking of you card, shared a small gift, and sent inspirational emails. I’m sure she did the same for other friends too.
Memories of my friend make think of the following quote from Mother Teresa. “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” It’s more like my friend cast a large rock into the waters with the number of lives that she touched.
I hope that as my tribute to my friend, I can make the world just a little bit better by showing care and compassion to others. She’s a hard act to follow but she makes me want to leave the world a better place too.
Bravo, my friend.