Friday, April 19, 2013

My Torn Earlobe and Some Boobies....

If there has ever been a post I was more excited to write about...this has to be in my top 3!
What I'm about to share with you is one of the most amazing stories of inspiration I have ever had the personal pleasure to experience.  Granted, I have met so many incredible people with the most amazing stories of how they fought to overcome their hardships and came out winning, so by no means do I in any way want to diminish their experiences, at all...it's just that this particular experience has touched me, literally and permanently, and for that, I will always be grateful and forever inspired.
Here goes...
my torn earlobe :)
Let me first explain WHY I was so moved to share this story. If you've never met Lisa Decosse of Decosse's Dynamite Doodles, you're in for a treat. Words, sentences, paragraphs, nor volumes of pages can begin to describe her positive outreach in the blog world. She has to be one of the most organized and thoughtful women who remembers dates, awards, birthdays, anniversaries (and will write you to tell you happy anniversary too!), pretty much ANY information that is shared in blog land and she writes about it daily. She is a constant source of upbeat fun and encouragement. That, and she has a freakin' awesome name too!  She truly uses her blog to inspire and to promote the many amazing works of so many people.  Lisa is the reason I'm writing this post.  Recently she has begun her very own challenge on her blog and it's so appropriately called Path of Positivity Challenge. There's a button on my sidebar that you can click for more information. 

Now, let me introduce to you, Cheryl, but first...
I had absolutely NO part in the making of this most fantastic canvas. However, when I read of Lisa's challenge, the stars and planets aligned and I instantly knew that I had to ask an extremely talented fellow blogger if she would mind taking on the task of creating this image that I had floating around in my head and lo and behold she said YES and would you believe it...she had this masterpiece mailed to my doorstep within one week!! An eternal and sincere thank you of gratitude goes to Kelly Neis at The Beauty of Paper, for taking my simple words of description and turning it into the most incredible piece of artwork that will hang on my wall forever! Kelly, hope you don't mind that I put your beautiful picture and information on each of the pictures!! :)

A proper introduction and the rest of the story and yes, I'll get to the boobies part!
It is with great excitement that I show you Cheryl....
I was in college and lived on Ramen Noodles and Mac n' Cheese. 
Bills to be paid, classes to take and two jobs just weren't cutting it. So, I went searching for a third and there in the classified ads was a Help Wanted article written by a women who was seeking a personal care attendant, serious inquiries only.  
Having absolutely NO experience, no idea what I would be required to do, no idea if I would even be available at the times she needed, I picked  up the phone and made a serious inquiry.  The conversation was very brief but thorough, as if she'd done this sort of thing before, and to my surprise, an interview was set for that very night!
As I drove to her house, my nerves were running a muck as her words, 'If this interview goes well,  you'll literally be my arms and legs' kept replaying in my mind.
 OMG! I should of hung up then. This poor woman wants the world's biggest klutz to take care of her? I kept reciting this affirmation to myself, "It's okay Lisa, you're okay...she doesn't know you're the most ungraceful and clumsy person on the face of the earth. Just remember to walk through the door, not into the door frame, through...not into, through..not into."  HOLY CRAP...I wanted to ralph right there on the side of the road.
My mind swirling and my stomach flipping, somehow I managed to be standing at her doorstep. 
As my finger raised to make my presence known, my ears were filled with the glorious sound of her doorbell that seemed like the singing of little angels. My nerves were instantly calmed as the door slowly opened and what I saw on the other side of  the threshold would change my life forever.
p.s...It was touch and go for a second, but my entrance did not include becoming intimately aware of the door frame! I definitely believe there was divine intervention involved ;) 
I'm going to have to be honest here and say that going to an interview for a job at the local burger joint and going to an interview for a personal care attendant are SO way different.  Never in my interview at Burger King was I ever asked if I would be comfortable undressing and bathing anyone. Never was I asked would I have a problem with prepping for an 'intimate' night, never was I asked if I would be okay with changing out a urine bag and never was I asked if I could be trusted to handle their most basic needs.  

My answer, "I honestly don't know. I've never been asked these questions before and quite frankly, I have no earthly idea what I'm doing here. I simply saw your ad and wanted to help you. If you guide me through it, I hope to treat you the way I'd like to be treated."  

 GASP...what the hell did I just say??? Did I just completely botch this?

As I began to look for my purse on the floor and gather my stuff, anticipating the next words, 'Thanks for nothing'  or 'Seriously, why'd you bother?'...instead I looked up at her and her main squeeze as they were smiling at me. I'd started to think that my internal ramblings did not remain inside thoughts (another habit of mine, talking out loud to myself).
Cheryl, in her wheelchair, came right beside me and giggled (YEP...I was mumbling!) and said, "Can you start tomorrow night?"  WOO HOO!!....I flew out my chair, knocked it over, glass of water went flying, stumbled over the fallen chair and nearly toppled my new employer just to say thank you and yes, yes I can!
Dangit!!...Miss Clod strikes again.  
The first few months went on with her training me as to what I needed to do and know.  Basically, when she wanted to Spring clean, I was on my hands and knees scrubbing. When she wanted a new look to her living room, I was shuffling around furniture (I think it's safe to say we can leave out the theatrics of that event; needless to say, it looked nothing like the well choreographed ballet of The Swan Lake) When she wanted to take a bath, I was there. When she wanted her hair curled, I was there, when she wanted to look sexy for her man, I was there.  
Now, here's where I tell you a bit more about Cheryl and explain the reason for this incredible canvas.  
It had been several months of working for her and one afternoon while standing in her kitchen prepping what she wanted to cook for dinner, she very matter of fact said, "How come you've never asked why I'm in a wheelchair?"  To which I said, "Probably for the same reason you've never asked why I have a uni-brow. It's none of my business." (In my defense, it was 1990 and the whole Brooke Shields craze was going on and I thought I was being hip, but in all honesty, I was just a Yeti in the making!)

We sat down at the kitchen table and she opened up her life to me and explained why I was sitting in the home of  a woman in a wheelchair, drinking tea and talking.

Cheryl had been married before and had lived in a whole other state. Her husband had worked for a company that had given him a promotion and would require them to move.  The movers had already packed up their stuff, but both her and her husband were driving their cars to their new destination to start their wonderful future together.  The weather had been peculiarly awful that winter and so much snow and freezing rain had made the journey treacherous.  Her husband had indicated to her that he wanted to stop and eat, but Cheryl was so excited to see their new home, so she and their little puppy went on down the road while he stopped.  
Now, since this is a very personal story of Cheryl's, I don't want to go into graphic detail, but the gist of the matter is that when she took the exit  that brought her into the new town, her vehicle hit a patch of ice and her car spun out of control and rolled into a deep ditch off to the side.  She told me that for awhile she could still feel her arms and legs, but she was so pinned in, she couldn't move to get herself free.  As hours passed by she could start to feel that she was losing sensation in her legs.   Now her little puppy stayed by her side this entire time, but I don't know what transpired in the moments when she realized that the situation was going from bad to worse, but that little puppy found its way out of the car and ran to the top of hill and barked and barked and barked until someone stopped and followed it back to where Cheryl was in the toppled car covered in snow.
By the time the emergency crews arrived, Cheryl no longer had feeling in any of her extremities.  Her body was so severely injured the doctors informed her that she would spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair as a quadriplegic. That was of course after spending months in the hospital and being fitted for a halo (twice). 
When she felt confident enough to talk about what happened with her friends and family, she was told that they had people out looking for her everywhere, but didn't think to look at the exit she was on...apparently she had taken the wrong one. The correct exit was just the very next one.  She even said herself that it made her wonder had she just gone 2 miles more down the road to the next exit, would this be her life?

It was months before she was able to leave the hospital and see her new home.
She had fully expected for it to be decorated up with all her pretty things and balloons and Welcome Home signs and people that she loved and those that loved and cared for her.  That wasn't to be the case.
What she came home to was an almost empty home, her husband and his secretary and the legal documents for a divorce.  That was Cheryl's welcome home party.
She ended the story with, "Yah, it pretty much sucked."

I cried, she cried and then we made drinks.  I went about prepping their dinner and then we made more drinks and a friendship blossomed and then laughter and jokes and dry wit banter was filling the air again.  She wasn't the same woman trapped in her car anymore, she wasn't a woman who's soul was confined to a wheelchair, she wasn't a woman who had or wanted pity..she was a beautiful woman going on about her day, folding laundry, cooking dinner and having some great laughs with a friend.
Okay, so I did mention the drinks part right? 
Well....As I had mentioned previously, one of my tasks was to do whatever Cheryl needed done and on this particular day, she was throwing a party for her man (yes, she met a fantastic guy who loved her dearly and was incredible with wood working and made her all these cool devices that aided her in being more independent around the house)  that night and we needed to get the surprise decorations up AND she needed to get 'smokin' hot' for the occasion!

So, off to her bedroom we went.  See, Cheryl is a very attractive woman who prides herself on always looking her best. She has that gorgeous thick black shiny hair that makes all the rest of us women sick and her makeup is done to perfection; which she applies herself. (Yes, by this point she has become fully aware of my awkward coordination and won't let me anywhere near her makeup or face).
Cheryl could go to the tanning salon, but it would require physically transporting her into the van, driving her there, getting her back out of the van and then into a tiny room, not wheelchair accessible, so would have to be lifted and placed in the tanning bed and blah, blah, blah, she wasn't having any of it! SO, she bought her own tanning bed that rolled over her bed and she would lay there and tan.  On this particular day, she had ordered some new tanning lotion with a bronzer and she wanted to try it out.  
Going through the usual routine, I got her undressed and lifted her onto the bed and then applied the bronzer and  got the tanning machine all set up over her. She asked me to go check on something real quick and so I went off to the kitchen for just a second.
  
When I walked back into the room, I nearly pee'd myself. 
I had never seen a more ridiculous sight in all my life and I don't think I've laughed that hard in forever.
I think that perhaps had there been maybe one less drink involved, clarity might have prevailed, but in this circumstance, I'm sorry to say it did not. 
Remember the bronzer I spoke about? Well, in the box with it came these golden cone things and when I left the room, I had the the bronzer and the golden cones laying by her hand. 

When I returned, there she was, my friend, butt naked as the day she was born laying under her tanning bed with these enormously large and golden cones over her eyeballs!! 
For mere discretion I'll refrain from quoting what I said, but when Cheryl heard me choking on laughter, she piped out, "What the hell kind of glasses are these??" 
It took more than awhile for me to regain my composure as I rolled around on her bedroom floor slapping my hand onto the ground in hysterical fits.
I'd never seen her laugh so hard in all the time I knew her when I was finally able to explain that the cones were not in anyway shape or form meant to be on her face; not even remotely...they were intended to cover up her nipples so they wouldn't get burned by the bronzer!
Which is why I think Kelly has selected the most perfect sentiment:
"In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different."

And different she is...and wonderful and inspiring and most definitely a human being that I respect and admire.
So what does this have to do with my earlobe after all of that? 
Sadly, I was moving away and I was no longer able to stay as Cheryl's personal care attendant and it was my last day to spend with her.  She decided that we were going to go out to lunch together and run some errands and just spend the day having fun. 
The weather was beautiful and we had great laughs together and then it was time to bring her back home and say goodbye.  I felt saying goodbye to her was harder to do than anything.  I knew what she would have to do when I left; start the interviews all over again. Learn to trust the new person that would replace me. Train them all over again and it wasn't easy for her to reveal herself to someone she didn't know.  I only hoped that whoever it was that opened up the newspaper and saw an ad from a woman who needed help, would be someone destined to cross Cheryl's path, just as I had been. Oh, and hopefully tons more coordinated and way less accident prone!  

Now Cheryl was the kind of woman who loved giving gifts and she kept threatening me that she would have one for me. I pleaded NO...she ignored me, par usual, but on this particular time, she hadn't had time to get anything and it was perfect! I could just give her a hug and probably cry tons and tell her how much she meant to me and spending the day with her was the best gift ever; however, fate played its part.
As I was lifting her out of the van, I had her cradled in my arms and just about to turn and put her in her chair when she had a total body spasm and her hand went flying up and three seconds later I'm standing in her driveway, she's in my arms and we're both watching as a metallic golden circle spins round and round on the concrete. 

The silence was finally broken by, "Oh Shit!" her words....
She took one glance at my ear and made this disturbing grimace like, "oops!" 
Then said,
"Okay...that's ugly. But at least I fixed these horrid eyebrows of yours!" 

So to this day, I carry the best gift Cheryl could have ever given me. 
 I certainly don't know what awaits me at the next exit, nor the one after that, but what I do know is that I'm blessed to have known Cheryl, a truly inspiring woman who taught me a valuable lesson about life and triumph and happiness and I'll carry it with me always, right here on my earlobe. ;)
Hugs n' Happiness In all Things..
Lisa x

30 comments:

Karon said...

WOW WOW WOW! What and awesome post - thank you for sharing this!! Have a fabulous weekendé

Chrissy said...

What a brilliant story Lisa, I loved evey word I read,brilliantly written..I loved the humour and sadness,I laughed and cried...thank you so much for sharing this wonderful experience you had,and the canvas is teffific.

Luv CHRISSYxx

Pia S said...

I've read every word in this post, Lisa, and what a great, moving and inspiring story! You're a great storyteller!

richardbreaks said...

Wow, I haven't read its equal in forever. What an amazing story.

KimCreate said...

What a fantastic story! Thanks for sharing. Now I know why you have not had your earlob fixed.

Ina said...

I don't think I have read such a heart warming story. Long but I hung on every word. What a magnificiant portrait and your story is in it everywhere. You have to read the story to see it. WOW Lisa thank you so much for making my day. We can really appreciate just how lucky we are and be thankful. Hugs.

Kelly Neis said...

Speechless, You are amazing! Cheryl is amazing! I am in tears and laughing at the same time. I am very blessed to be able to make this canvas for you, (I wish I would have added a slit earlobe to it), just for you! lol
You are the kind of person I enjoy in my life, this is a beautiful story of a true friendship. I love how she gave you a chance seeing beyond your nervous actions. lol
What a complete blessing you two are to each other!
Big Hugs, Kelly

Tammy said...

Wow, what an inspirational person and how fortunate you are to be able to call her friend! On the other hand, what a terrific person you are to assume the duties of caring for such a remarkable and courage person! The canvas is amazing and so very interesting to look at especially after reading your post!

Vicky F. AKA Crafting Vicky said...

wow what an inspiring story!!! So glad that because of Lisa you decided to share this with the world. We take for granted so much. That canvas is totally fabulous and a great reminder of the story!

KC Inspired said...

Don't we get love & inspiration in the most crazy places? She sounds like a lifetime friend!
Thanks for sharing. Loved it.

Patricia St Martin said...

Lisa, Such an inspiring story and thanks for sharing it with us.
Hugs, Patricia

Mitra Pratt said...

So, I read this earlier today and have been thinking about it since. So, yes, I'm back again to leave a comment. I really really really think you need to link this up for Story Telling Sunday (first Sunday of the Month) over at Sian's. Lots of people would love to see this artwork and read the story. Secondly I want to punch her first hubby hard, what a big ole....well, you can imagine what I would like to call him. Thirldy, what a great title. I love to read about boobs. Your ear is like my tatto, something to remind me of something that meant something! I am sure it hurt a LOT but sometimes things do that matter! KUDOS to you for sharing this!

Tracy said...

I'm telling you girl, you need to write professionally. This is a beautiful story and you've written it so well it felt like I was there with you. Cheryl sounds like an amazing person. What an amazing attitude after all she went through. Thanks for sharing this. The canvas is priceless. Hugs!

Jeanne J said...

Lisa you are one of the most amazing women I've had the pleasure of meeting in my life. You are an artist and now a storyteller - you have a wonderful way with words that just takes us right to that moment in time as if we were there. You should consider submitting for magazines - you have a real gift. I will have to tell you how I tore my earlobe one day - I wound up with 52 stitches - it's back together, but not so pretty! Life is what you take with you right? Your amazing!

Decosse's Dynamite Doodles said...

When I created the Path of Positivity challenge, only in my wildest imagination could I ever have hoped that someone would share such an incredibly inspiring story. To know that I have inspired you to share this amazing journey you had while on an earlier path of your own life, makes my heart sing. Thank you also for the beautiful words you wrote about me.

I believe that the reason you were hired is in big part to your honesty. You didn't try to build yourself up and snow her with some line, you shared the truth. Another reason would be that you indicated a desire to help, a willingness to learn and most importantly you were willing to treat her the way you'd like to be treated. Being treated with dignity is one of the biggest things that those of us with disbilities can ask for. We don't want to be treated with kid gloves, or at arm's length. We want to be seen for who we are inside and treated with the same respect everyone deserves. If I ever get my attendant, I could only hope that she will be exactly like you.

Now to say you had absolutely no part in the creation of such a phenomenal piece of artwork, is not entirely true. It is your concept after all, with Kelly bringing it to incredible life.

Thank you so very much for digging deep and sharing this journey with us. I am so happy that I could inspire you to go forth and inspire so many others in turn. May the path to continue to grow!

Much love,
Lisa

Alyce said...

lisa what a gorgeous story!!! cheryl sounds like an AMAZING brave and beautiful woman. and how beautiful of you to help her in the way that you did. sounds like it was fate lined up for you too :) i love the canvas that kelly created for her... how perfect hehehe!!! sending big hugs to you both from the other side of the world :) xx

Shahrul Niza said...

This is such an inspiring post for me. I feel more grateful for the life I have right now, in all its simplicity yet, abundance :). TFS!. Big HUGS for you and all inspiring women out there :).

Regina Easter said...

such a wonderful story and I love that masterpiece...I hope she found someone as loving and caring as you...........hugs

Mary J said...

What an amazing story, Lisa! You truly are an incredible, authentic and kind person - I wish we lived in the same country! Maybe one day when we finally get the balls to emigrate! It was also beautifully written - you really should take up writing!

butterfly said...

What a wonderful story about an extraordinary woman... strike that - about two extraordinary women. Thank you so much for sharing this, Lisa, and for commissioning and sharing this amazing artwork from Kelly - a brilliant, brilliant post - thank you.
Alison xx

Sandy said...

I do not think anyone could write this story as well as you Lisa. What an incredible friend to have and one can tell by your tone that the experience gave you growth as a woman and a friend. You both were lucky to have each other. Kelly is a wonderful artist who illustrated your story so well. Thanks for sharing this amazing woman with us Lisa.
Sandy

Danielle Champagne said...

Hello Lisa, this is my first stop here, I was invited by our mutual friend Kelly, because I read her canvases. I laughed and cried reading your story of beautiful friendship and difference! I think Kelly has captured the essence of your story in her canvas, she connected to the thread heavenly, perfectly. Every inch of her drawing breathes humanity. I love the film strip, I love the sentiment so very much, and find it perfectly appropriated, I love the dramatic black, and how she painted the skin. I am amazed, at both your story and her canvas, and I must say that reading it thismorning, just made my day. Sending love from Montreal. xox.

Margaret said...

Oh, wow! I always knew you were amazing but had no clue how much!! This is such a fantastic story, and a fabulous friendship and learning experience (for both of you!)
I actually choked a little on my coffee at the visual image of the lovely cones on her eyes, and there was major cringing at the torn earlobe part! Amazing post and gorgeous canvas!!

Shari Nelson said...

Great story, glad I stopped by! I'm glad you shared it.

ike said...

Such a wonderful story about 2 awesome women. It would be so hard to fill the hole in her life when you left. I really hope she found someone as amazing as you :-) Thank you for sharing this story.
I came over from Lisa's Blog :-)
Hugz
IKE xxx

Desire Fourie said...

A wonderful inspirational story.
Saw you over at The Path of Positivity and had to come and have a closer look. Thanks so much for sharing. Hugs DesĂ­re {Doing Life}

May said...

A Wonderful inspiring post... popped over from Kelly's blog.. So glad I did.. Thank you so much for sharing... Hugs May x x x

Made by Mandy said...

What a terribly sad thing to happen to her but how fortunate that you came together in the way you did. I strongly believe things happen for a reason, you both sound like such amazing people and I am glad you found one another.

Ouchy on the ripped earlobe, but a perfect reminder for an irreplaceable lady.

Love Mandy xxx

cathylynn said...

Lisa your story is beautiful and encourages the rest of us to be as kind and honest as you are. Kelly has done an amazing job creating this canvas for you. She is also a very good friend to me. She is a true artist to the core. I'm so happy that Kelly invited me to visit your blog. My heart is touched!
Hugs, Cathy-Lynn

soccermom23 said...

Just found this story. The canvas is incredible, but your story is even more so! It takes a special person to do what you have done for Cheryl. God really blessed her when you came into her life.