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It’s very easy to explain, you see it was her determination and courage that opened that very first care center door. After coming together in August 1988 we both learned: to trust again, and see hope in a future. To me the future was anything but clear, but to Jennie, it was simply a matter of when and where.
After I had lost my Mom in February 1988, after she had been in and out of so many care centers and hospitals, the last place I was ever going again was one of ‘those places’. I tried to forget all of those faces watching and waiting for their families to come visit them. More times than not, no one ever came. Through my Mom I got to know these people who would soon turn in to her friends. Instead of the usual things my Mom needed soon there were these extras, just because you’re coming anyway, and brought them, always wondering where the family members were to these wonderful people. Just because my Mom’s legs were gone and her left side was paralyzed she was always my Mom, my best friend. I could not figure out why so many were left alone just watching out the windows or listening for a familiar voice from family. My Mom and I tried to figure that out and neither one of us could.
Before he passed away on July 4th 1981, I promised my Dad I would take care of my Mom. They shared the ‘once in a lifetime’ love many never find. The following January she suffered the first of three strokes. Her doctors were convinced she just gave up. Life didn’t seem to matter to her without him. I would like to tell you everything was fine after some time had passed but it wasn’t. Unfortunately, my family was not understanding. Their definition of understanding was trying to figure out their ‘inheritance’. To this day there is no communication with them.
When my Mom passed away in February 1988 I was in a horrible way. For those seven years since my Dad passed away my Mom and I had some great times and some awful times. One August day I was told of a Great Dane puppy that was to be destroyed because it was mean and out of control. Would I go ‘look ‘at it? Famous last words to this day. Little did I know this beaten little six month old Great Dane would completely change my life. And I’m very proud to say, the lives of thousands of people. When we first met, it was outside and she wouldn’t come near me. I’m sure she was convinced I would beat her as her owners did. I sat down to try to get her to come to me. She ran around scared and finally came over trembling as if to say “don’t hurt me’’. After five years of trusting each other, learning just when it was ‘time’ for another treat, and finding out that life was wonderful we drove to a care center. I remembered all those waiting for someone to visit, and I wanted to share this magnificent animal that had absolutely saved my life. The conversation getting to the care center was one for the record books. Upon pulling into the parking lot I was talking at least a million miles a minute and she was listening to every word, this I just knew, I could see it in her eyes. We approached this black mat that would open the first door that led to the second door and then we would be in.
I suddenly felt a wave of terror and knew I could not do this. Not after all those years and all those lonesome faces. I began to turn away just inches from that first mat and headed towards the truck. All of a sudden Jennie pulled me back around and literally forced me into this place. After we were inside she went over and put her head in this elderly lady’s lap as if to say “I’m here for you” and she looked at me as if to say “be my voice and I will be your strength”. I did and she was. So you see…I wanted to run away, she knew we had to stay.
These are the facts of the beginning of Paws for Friendship, Incorporated. On November 8, 1999 our Beloved founder passed away her heart and soul continue to guide this organization.
Thank you for joining and making such a difference in so many lives.
Always will be,
Jennie’s Mom, Jan