I have a neighbor who has a little Chihuahua dog and he never kept him on a leash when they were in their front yard. My boys and I struggled going past the house on our because my boy Amore’ often would get aggressive with other dogs. When Amore died, Duke met the dog and the dog would often come to the other side of the street to see us on our walks. Ruby met him too. The guy seemed like a nice enough guy despite the one negative experience I had.
When I was using the walker and the motorized wheelchair, we didn’t have a choice but to go by his house because the sidewalks on the other street were better and I was less likely to fall. But we always had to take that chance of the little dog coming and my dog or dogs pulling me off balance. Once the neighbor yelled at me because I wouldn’t just go on down the same street instead of passing his street. I yelled back that the sidewalks sucked and that the walker didn’t work well and to please get his dog.
We still exchanged pleasantries after that incident and I had no hard feelings because he couldn’t understand why sidewalks would be a problem or that Amore was often unpredictable—who could who hadn’t had to try using a walker or had a problem dog.
Fast forward from that moment three or four years ago to July 2017.
Hope Fiona and I were walking on a Friday evening past his house, which is our normal route. I had noticed I hadn’t seen much of him this year and that he appeared to be frail and wasn’t walking that well in the past month I had seen him. He stops me to tell me he was in a bad car accident in January and when he was having to learn to walk again, his first thought was of me.
He said he remembered me always continuing to walk my dogs whether it was with a wheelchair, a walker or a cane and that he hoped he had the same strength as he was struggling through his recovery.
He shared his journey from wheelchair to walker to cane and was proud to say he was getting around pretty well without the cane now and could walk around the block. He asked me how I found the strength to do it and continued to say how much he thought of me during and still because he had a tremendous head injury that has to continue to heal.
We talked about muscle memory and physical therapy and water therapy, and even though it was starting to rain and Hope really wanted to walk, we talked about the importance of continuing to move forward no matter what.
He asked me my name because in the 12 years I have passed his house and talked with him, we had never exchanged names. He thanked me for something I had no idea even happened.
This experience reminded me that I was doing something right in this life, but also reminded me about how someone is always watching you and that making an impact on others’ lives is far bigger than what you deliberately do for someone else. It is more about who you are and how you are while you are doing the simple, routine things in this life that has just as much of an impact.