Monday Meeting — Good-Bye, Solo

A Police K-9 Dog Died Yesterday. This is his Caretaker/Partner/Best Friend Saying Goodbye one Last Time.

A photo of K9 Police Dog ‘Solo’ and his partner, Staff Sgt. Carlos Dipuma.

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The memorial service included a photo montage of Solo and his partner, Staff Sgt. Carlos Dipuma, as well as a moment of silence for the K-9 officer so many had grown to love.

Then many in the multi-purpose building at Farris Park sniffled as Solo’s last radio call went out.

“Attention all units, be advised that Solo does not respond. K-9 Solo is now deceased and will be laid to rest February 2, 2015,” the dispatcher said.

With that last call came a finality for so many Monday morning: the dog they trusted with their lives was gone.

“I’m gonna miss Solo. I’ve cried so many tears these last couple of days,” Dipuma said. “It’s been hard.”

On Friday, Solo was diagnosed with terminal cancer, two tumors pressing on his heart and spleen. On Monday morning, the department had to put him down.

“It’s gonna be hard knowing when I go in that truck again in the morning time and go 10-8, that my partner won’t be in the back,” Dipuma said.

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Please see the text below, by an unknown author, which is inscribed on the Connecticut State Police K9 Memorial.

A fitting tribute for Solo and all the other heroic K9 Dogs…

Trust in me, my friend, for I am your comrade. I will protect you with my last breath. When all others have left you and the loneliness of the night closes in, I will be at your side.

Together we will conquer all obstacles and search out those whom might wish harm to others. All I ask of you is compassion, the caring touch of your hands.

It is for you that I will unselfishly give my life and spend my nights unrested. Although our days together may be marked by the passing of the seasons, know that each day at your side is my reward.

My days are measured by the coming and going of your footsteps. I anticipate them at every opening of the door. You are the voice of caring when I am ill; the voice of authority when I’ve done wrong.

Do not chastise me unduly, for I am your right arm, the sword at your side. I attempt to do only what you bid of me. I seek only to please you and remain in your favor.

Together you and I shall experience a bond only others like us will understand. When outsiders see us together their envy will be measured by their disdain.

I will quietly listen to you and pass no judgment, nor will your spoken words be repeated. I will remain ever silent, ever vigilant, ever loyal.

And when our time together is done and you move on in this world, remember me with kind thoughts and tales, for a time we were unbeatable. Nothing passed among us undetected.

If we should meet again on another street I will gladly take up your fight. I am a Police Working K-9 and together we are guardians of the night.

~ Connecticut State Police K9 Memorial

solo

We give thanks to Solo (above) and Staff Sgt. Carlos Dipuma for their bravery and dedication in protecting and serving the public.

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Source: Kindness Blog
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Thursday Re-View — Of Ladybugs and Dragonflies…and Love

There are signs.

Signs of our departed loved ones telling us all will be well and that there is life after death, if we only have the faith and willingness to believe.

For Mom, it’s a ladybug. ladybug

When she died 25 years ago from breast cancer at the age of 59, (see “Remembrance”), Mom left behind a husband, 2 daughters and 3 grandsons. Speaking for myself, her “baby,” I was in total shock, having spent the entire month of February driving to the hospital after work and watching her suffer. After her death, I was totally drained physically, emotionally and spiritually.

One of the first things we did as a family without Mom was to drive 8 hours to my best friend’s wedding in North Carolina, the wedding that Mom promised to bake her delicious Italian cookies for (what is a wedding without countless trays laden with homemade cookies made from recipes handed down through the generations?). Needless to say, my family was happy for my friend who called my Mom and Dad her “adopted parents,” but the absence of Mom was a raw ache, an emptiness, a longing that went unfulfilled.

During a rest stop, Dad, my sister and I stood stretching our legs before getting back into the car for the long ride home. As we spoke about how much we missed Mom, a ladybug landed on Dad’s shoulder.

Mom had always loved ladybugs; if one was inside the house, she would bring it outside and place it gently on a flower. If one landed on her, she would simply let it stay put until it flew away. Mom knew that ladybugs were dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and had been called the “Beetle of Our Lady,” its name linking itself to spiritual ideals and mothers. To her, that sent a powerful message of devotion and love.

A ladybug on Dad’s shoulder…while we were talking about Mom…at our first outing as a family without her. Each of us looked at the ladybug, looked at each other, and without saying a word, started to cry. Somehow Mom found a way to let us know that she was with us.

Ever since then, in the past 25 years, ladybugs have visited my Dad, sister and me when we most needed the comfort. Dad would call us up on Mom’s birthday and mention that a ladybug was on his morning newspaper, or in the bathroom during the Christmas holidays – Mom’s favorite time of year – when he most missed her, or on the passenger seat of his car when he had a doctor’s appointment. If my sister was going through a difficult time, even though it might be the dead of winter, she would call me up and say, “Guess what I’m looking at right now, on my windowsill?” and I would answer, without missing a beat, “A ladybug.” Mom came through again and again.

After Dad died and I was particularly sad, having to make some big decisions without having either parent to ask for advice, I found myself driving to work and saying out loud, “I really need a lady bug sighting.” I thought of my ladybug collection at home that reminded me of Mom – pins, coffee mugs, journals, bracelets, note cards – but they just weren’t enough. I really, really needed her. As I slowed for one of the three stop lights in my town that foggy morning, I noticed something strange about the car in front of me. I blinked, then got a better look as I came to a top. It was a Volkswagen Beetle automobile. I’d gotten my driver’s license in one when I was 17 years old. But that wasn’t why I smiled. The Volkswagen Beetle was a red one with huge black spots painted on it. A car painted to look like a ladybug idling at the stop light. The ladybug sighting that I just asked for out loud – big enough just in case Theresa missed it.

I looked down and shook my head. Why was I not surprised??? [Note: I never saw that car again.]

For Dad, it’s a dragonfly.

flora goddess of flowers and spring

flora goddess of flowers and spring

Following Dad’s funeral Mass last year, we all proceeded to the mausoleum where Mom was buried. As my sister and I, our immediate family, and the rest of those who had come to pay final respects to Dad entered the marble building, for some reason, my sister turned around and looked at the wall of windows that covered its front. Just then, a beautiful dragonfly flew in and landed on the framework of the door. Quite large, it was a beautiful, iridescent blue (Dad’s favorite color, as well as the color of his eyes). It simply rested there, motionless. A cousin of mine turned to my sister and asked in a voice tinged with wonder, “Did you see that?” as they looked at the visitor. My sister nodded, unable to speak. When she told me about this later, I had no doubt that we had just received our first message from Dad.

In choosing the dragonfly for his sign, Dad chose a symbol of light, one of a select few creatures that are supposed to carry a deceased person’s energy to their loved ones, often seen as a harbinger of change.

This week, the final chapter in the managing of Dad’s estate took place when we had the closing for the sale of his house. My sister and I hoped that we would find a young family to bring the house alive, to transform it once again into a place of brightness and love and happiness. We got our wish when we met the couple who bought it, along with their young daughter. The conference room was filled with people – attorneys, realtors, secretaries, the buyers (the family) and the sellers (my sister and me). It was bittersweet – a relief, after a year, to have this last task completed, yet also very sad, to have this last task completed (see “Who Will Remember?”).

As we sat across the table from the family, my sister addressed the harried and exhausted looking mother, who had just finished telling us that they closed on the sale of their own house late the night before. “Your sweater – are those dragonflies on your sweater?” The woman stretched the front of the garment out so that we could see its print. Multiple dragonflies fluttered across it in bluish-purple beauty.

Dragonflies.

My sister and I both started to cry. As we brokenly explained what/who the dragonflies represented, the woman’s eyes filled with tears. “Well, I guess we know this was meant to be,” she softly commented, pulling her sweater more closely around her, almost like a hug.

She was correct. Dad was here to say that his house was being passed on to the right people, and that he was with us always. I would like to say a ladybug landed on the desk at the same time, but that didn’t happen. The dragonfly was enough.

Thank you, Mom and Dad, for sending your love. Continuing bonds can never be broken.

There are signs. Our loved ones never leave us. We must simply open our eyes and our hearts will be filled.

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Monday Meeting — An Act of Ultimate Respect and Humility

This is the poignant moment when a man rescued from the hell he endured at the hands of the Nazis met his saviour almost 70 years later.

nazi

Joshua Kaufman first saluted his rescuer Daniel Gillespie. Then he kissed his hand and finally, he fell to his feet, exclaiming: ‘I have wanted to do this for 70 years. I love you, I love you so much…’.

Kaufman, now 87, was a ‘walking corpse’ on April 29 1945 when U.S. Army soldier Gillespie, 89, marched in with his comrades to liberate the charnel house that was the Dachau concentration camp near Munich.

Gillespie, a machine gunner with the 42nd ‘Rainbow Division,’ moved to block 11 of the infamous complex which was the first camp built by the Nazis to house its enemies in 1933.

By the time it was liberated more than 35,000 people had been murdered there – in executions, in cruel medical experiments, starved, worked and beaten to death.

The first person he saw was Hungarian Jew Kaufman. He was hiding in the latrines with other prisoners, uncertain if the soldiers who arrived were liberators or a Nazi death squad sent to liquidate the camp.

‘We were confined to barracks by the guards. This meant most of us were marked for death,’ Mr. Kaufman said.

‘Then I saw the white flag flying from the watchtower and I realized then that the torture was at an end.

When the Americans smashed in the door, my heart did somersaults.‘

Gillespie helped the emaciated prisoner into the daylight and back into the land of the living. Both parted with tears in their eyes – both believed they would never see one another again.

Kaufman, who lost most of his family in the Holocaust, made it to Israel where he became a soldier who fought in the Six Day War and the Yom Kippur War.

He later emigrated to America where he married, fathered three daughters and became a self employed plumber.

Gillespie married, fathered eight children and built a career for himself as a successful salesman.

 

Amazingly, neither knew that they lived within an hour’s drive of each other until a German documentary crew arranged their moving reunion on the sand at Hungtington Beach, California.

Accompanied by his youngest daughter Alexandra, 34, to the meeting, Joshua said: ‘I came out of hell into the light. For that, and to him, I am eternally grateful.’

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Gillespie had fought with his comrades through Europe to reach the gates of the Dachau camp.

He said, ‘It was the most profound shock of my life. Its liberation changed my life forever.”

‘We could not understand it. I grew up in California where we had everything in abundance.

‘We didn’t get how people could let other people starve. They murdered them or just let them die.

Again and again the questions moved through my head. And at the same time I was just incredibly angry.’

When they were reunited, Gillespie asked Kaufman: ‘How did you survive? What kept you alive?’

An emotional and overwhelmed Kaufman replied: ‘Dying would have been easier. In Dachau we had to tote around 50 kilo cement sacks. The whole day long.

‘Whoever broke down was immediately shot. It turned me into an animal. And animals want to survive. I wanted to live.’

He described how, to this day, he still sleeps on a thin mattress close to a window so he can gaze out at green grass every day.

The meeting, and their stories, will be told in a special for the History Channel Deutschland to be screened on May 31.

Kaufman had the last word on the beach when he said: ‘I have everything I wanted in life through him. That is the reason for my thankfulness.’

nazi II

Both men are old, both realize they will probably never see one another again.

But both said they were humbled by their meeting so many years after Nazism was crushed.

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Source: Kindness Blog
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Thursday Re-View — The Greatest Therapist Award

Tabitha

The handwriting is looping, the capitalization non-existent, the ragged piece of paper torn on one edge, but with a faint flower at the top. It looks like the effort put into the note is considerable, the pressure of the words seen through the paper from the other side.

It is childlike. It is simple. It is a priceless treasure given to me upon my departure from Community Mental Health that I keep under glass on my desk.

No, it wasn’t written by a child. It was written by a 31-year old woman – a patient for 2 years. A woman-child. A woman whose emotional maturity was paralyzed in early adolescence, when she had several children as a result of sexual abuse by her father…abuse that her mother never stopped. A woman who never finished junior high and who ran away to get away from the monster at home, only to meet more of them on the streets and under the bridge where she slept. Where she did what she could to eat and to take care of her children until Child Protective Services removed them and placed them in Foster Care.

No protection for her, but at least there was for her children. And for the children with different fathers from severed relationships who came after that.

Rape. Childbirth. Physical abuse. Homelessness. Death of one of her children and institutionalization of another. Arrests and incarceration. Drugs and alcohol. Prostitution. Multiple suicide attempts and hospitalizations. Emotional abuse.

Self-esteem: zero. Worthlessness: 100%. In her mind, that is. And in the mind of the bruiser of a man whose son she raised as her own, who beat her up regularly, even though she took any and all that he threw at her.

But she never left. Why?

Where could she go?

She had no job – who would hire her? She had no high school diploma, with her jail time checked honestly on every application. Applications where the handwriting would look like it looked in the note above.

But she loved the squirrels outside her window, and had names for each one of them, and when her boyfriend killed one with a BB gun when he was drunk, she carefully dug a hole and buried it while he slept off the rage and the drink.

Until the next time.

Non-compliance with therapy appointments and medications until she realized that I saw past her bravado and resistance to the little girl underneath.

She was hard to like, but her survival instinct was easy to admire.

For several months, she never missed an appointment. I looked over her shoulder while she filled out applications with an agency that was willing to hire people with an arrest record. We picked out an outfit together for her interview, her boyfriend there to have the final approval on what she wore.

She didn’t get the job.

But she finally got a driver’s license so if another opportunity presented itself, she would be ready. She started to study for her GRE but didn’t have the money to sit for the exams. A fairy godmother took care of the fee at the local office that registered people for the review classes that she got thrown out of for being disruptive.

She always had difficulty with anger management, but she was also sleep deprived, since everyone around her did whatever they could to prevent her from studying. She passed all but one part of the exam for her GRE anyway, and got a tutor for the higher math.

Her father got a cancer diagnosis, and she struggled mightily with whether to go see him to tell him that she still loved him as a daughter, or to go see him to kill him for the despicable horrors that he visited upon her as a little girl. Normal feelings for what she had been through, and I daresay far above anything her father would have felt.

Then, seemingly out of nowhere, for me, a chance at another job, this one in higher education. One with a secretary to answer the phone and a computer to make appointments, with time off and supplemental help. Nothing like the limited resources of Community Mental Health that wore people out.

For someone who was exhausted with compassion fatigue, it was a relatively easy choice.

But it was so terribly hard to leave the patients in my case load. And she was one of them. Right when she seemed to be making some headway, another person who she had slowly, hesitantly learned to trust was abandoning her.

Who to save? It had to be me. Because I cannot “save” anyone but myself, and I needed to give some of the compassion that I so easily poured into others, to myself.

So everyone was transitioned to new psychotherapists whom I thought would be a ‘good fit,’ and I had enough advance notice to properly ‘terminate’ my clients.

I wish I could tell you that she passed the final portion of her GRE, left what would hopefully be her last abusive relationship and found a full-time job.

But I can’t.

I don’t know what happened to her…not even if she kept her appointments with the new therapist. Not every story has a happy ending, or at least an ending that we are a part of or even privy to.

But I do have the tiny stuffed green frog she gave me on the last day, one she got from a McDonald’s Happy Meal. And I have the “Greatest Therapist Award” next to me on my desk.

Not to remind me of my award, but to remind me of the special woman-child I was so privileged to work with for 2 years.

To remind me of what a survivor looked like…a woman so tough that she was still standing, a woman so gentle that she named each of the squirrels in her back yard.

Thank you for gifting me with a glimpse into your life and sharing things that no one else knew. For keeping a small shred of hope alive even when the voices all around you ridiculed and berated.

I wish you happiness and warmth and smiles; sunshine and rainbows and sweetness.

But most of all, I wish you love.

Pure love. Of yourself and from someone good and decent and kind.

You deserve nothing less.

The privilege was mine, lovely lady. Be well.

You are in my thoughts and in my heart…go out and shine!

frog

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