Author Topic: Been a month  (Read 647 times)

JustMark

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Been a month
« on: April 16, 2017, 10:48:18 PM »
It's not only Easter it's also one month since Gina passed. I still find myself pausing while doing things around the house. I reflect and remember Gina either doing the work herself or me doing the work and her coming into to chat or see if I needed help. Those memories could be any point in time since we got together and are typically happy moments I shared with her. They run from anywhere from a few seconds to a couple of minutes and often they comfort me through out the day. As an example, when I planted the vegetable garden a couple of days ago I looked over at her rose bush and remember her trimming it.

My mom says I'm doing good in reference to adjusting to life now that Gina is gone but when no one is around there are times I'm still crying like a baby. My 3 dogs get close to comfort me as best as they know how. Sox gave me 3 false alerts for meds this month because I was crying. He's been trained to alert me for meds for panic attacks. He is not sure of the difference between crying in sorrow verses anxiety attacks so maybe he thinks he needs to treat them the same way which is not the case. Also the dogs are trying to be more playful. He has figured out what he has been trained to do for reassurance works when I cry. I'm also finding TwoToez still needs moments of reassurance and whimpers for Gina. They are slowly tapering off. I'm still finding myself having problems falling asleep and my appetite still isn't back to normal. I am making sure I am eating a salad or fresh raw vegetables around lunch time. It's what I did when contracting in the hot summers because those hot days in the sun were appetite killer days so I would eat light until after sunset and a cool shower. I also cooked me a meal two times this month as there were a whole lot of left overs from deli platters and some caseroles and my mom and daughter cooked me some meals and brought them.

I'm finding it easier to get started on somethings and others my heart still isn't in. This last month I concentrated on out door things for spring and started the vegetables. This week I'll start on indoor things like laundry, some cleaning, putting air conditioners in windows and start back on the office and half bath where I left off. I am also making sure I pick up one of my guitars or the keyboard for an hour a day. I guess you could say it's my me time. I will also start going through Gina's things as I can handle it. Get items to her family in New York, donate cloths and shoes and such. Dawn my daughter, says she will come by once a week to give me a hand with that because she knows somethings will be hard for me. Clothing wise I'm only keeping her wedding dress and bathrobe. Gina's wedding outfit was a pretty turquoise. The bathrobe because it's the very first piece of clothing I bought her. I got it for her in fall of 2007 when she moved into the house. The house got a little cool in the winter back then. First thing I did after the demo work on rehabbing the house was making the furnace and duct-work more efficient and insulated exterior walls. It's been much better these last two winters and the furnace doesn't go through that much oil now.

I'm drying out several of the roses and flowers from the funeral floral arrangements to make a few keepsakes for me, my mom and my daughter. Two days after I hung them my daughter liked how my father's keepsake turned out with his roses. So she asked about some of the flowers as she had an idea and I told here there were plenty. I was planning sort of a shadow box but I think I'll see what Dawn is thinking of. End of this week they will be ready for the preservative. For Gina's memorial service I did a poster board on how I proposed to her and how we almost got married in the hospital chapel in hospital gowns by the chaplain. Maybe for our anniversary this coming June I'll post it in here or online somewhere. I got more done then I expected with Gina's death but no where near what I normally do but at least I did something and took a few steps forward.

I guess I started this thread so I can look back from time to time to see how far I've come as time goes on. Maybe it will help others see some things that worked for me and may work for them or something they can adapt to help them. I know from my dad's death in 2001 and what I learned grieving is a process and takes time. So no need to rush and always remember, one day at a time and one step at a time equals healing over time.

Terry

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Re: Been a month
« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2017, 05:59:20 AM »
Hi Mark,

Thinking of you and hoping your days have been gentler.

The keepsakes is a really good idea and I'm sure will be appreciated. The poster board has to be heart warming....what a beautiful idea.

Hugs
"One thing I've learned on this journey (it's been a year and a few days since my husband, Tom, died of cancer), is that in the beginning, there is a lot of the one-step-forward-two-steps-back shuffle." - RobinBlue - Spouse Loss

JustMark

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Re: Been a month
« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2017, 07:35:15 PM »
Hi and thank you Terry, days have been gentler to a certain extent. Day before yesterday was interesting. In the evening I had knocked off for the day and was warming up on my old bass guitar in the office which right above where the dining room is going to be after I'm finished. It's down to studied walls and one of the exterior walls waiting for insulation. Right now on working on the bathroom that will be right next to it so the only thing in the dining room is some lumber, tools and an old saw. Anyway me and the dogs had a moment of excitement. The amp was up a little louder then usual and I hit an E cord and held it will playing along with a CD at the end of a song and we herd a load bang come from down stairs. It sounded like dynamite going off. I put my bass down and rushed downstairs behind the dogs. At the bottom of the steps there was a sea of dust hovering in the air up to about 3 foot above the floor throughout the whole first story.

So I started looking around to figure out what in the world that noise was and opening windows and doors to let the dust out in the process. Turned fans on blowing out as well. I got to the dining room and strewn across the floor was chunks of the old plasterboard and mortar like they did walls and ceilings in the late 40's. I looked up and the old ceiling I was trying to save had a 6 by 8 foot of the old plaster work gone. The chunks were more than an inch think and half the nails in the upper floor joists to hold it up came out of the joists with it. The amount of material that hit the floor was a good 800 pound to a half ton I figured. I looked down at the dogs and they had a surprised look on their face and I said "Sox what in the world did you do?" He looked up and sort of tilted his head like he was trying to figure out what I was asking. "I said "Tootz", which is what I normally call Two Toez for short "did you do that?" he looked at me and looked at the floor and looked back up and gave me that look like "it will be ok daddy, I'm a good boy". I began laughing. So I cleaned up the chunks and debris and used up the last of my contractor bags. I called my mom told her what happened and told her  I needed more bags in the morning. Mentioned she could get them from Lowes in the morning for about $30 dollars a box and I would reimburse her when she dropped them off. I told her I would be using 6 to 7 more contractors bags by the following night. I explained the rest of the ceiling needs to be brought down while you can control how big the chunks are and bring it down in pieces or it will come down when it chooses. So that was definitely a high point for me this this last week. Bare with me it's my contractor humor showing I still think it's funny with that look Two Toez gave me.


JustMark

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Re: Been a month
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2017, 06:21:10 PM »
It's now just a few days past the 2nd month of Gina passing. This month I started a guitar course and it seems to be going well. I also bought a piano course and it arrived but I won't start that until the office and the half bath in the basement is complete. I also half halfheartedly started going through some of Gina's clothes and a few items in the kitchen that are not needed anymore. There are a couple of items she wanted to go to certain people like a Christmas sweater given her by my mom she wants my daughter Dawn to have. Gina treasured that sweater. She also wanted a specific jewelry box to go to Angel my multiply handicapped daughter. It has a little ballerina circled by mirrors with wind up music box Gina had gotten from her father as a little girl. Angel loved to listen to it during her visits with us. Angel would lay in bed and listen to it in order to drift off. Angel can't speak. When it needed to be rewound she knew exactly how to get her point across. Most of Gina's clothes are being donated to a church or they are going to good will or salvation army. I'm not sure yet even though I have some bags ready to go. I don't have the strength to do anything with her dresses at this time. I started to but then comes floods of memories. Good memories but I find they begin to lead to self pity if I'm not careful. So for the time being they can stay where they are at. The vegetable garden is progressing well also.  I got the remaining plaster work in the dining room removed and bagged for a dump run. Between hanging sheet plastic to protect the rest of the house to pulling the plaster down, breaking it up for bagging, then sweep, vacuum and getting the sheet plastic back down took me the whole week. After I work on the van next week I'll get a few guys to load the van and ride along to dump them. 17 contractor's bags and the lightest one is around 75 pounds. No way can I move them with my hip the way it is. That bit I used to get done in one day actually a half day before my disabilities got bad. I find myself still crying on occasion but I guess that is to be expected. Gina picked out everything that will be getting installed by the time I'm finished.

JustMark

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Re: Been a month
« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2017, 03:51:06 AM »
Last week on the 13 was our anniversary and Gina's third month after her passing was on the 16th. Time has passed so achingly slowly but I wonder where it went because it only seems like yesterday when I found her on the floor. My brother, Bob had called me and invited me to down to spend the week with him and Belinda, his wife at their home. At first I wasn't going to as I don't like to impose but Bob said they knew that this coming anniversary was going to be hard and that I shouldn't be home alone. Even after all these years Bob still knows his brother. during the week we went out and did some sight seeing and Bob and I did a little fishing as well. We didn't catch any fish but the dogs loved the water. Even though they tried to help keep me occupied and my mind off of things they knew I was still hurting and wasn't my usual self. At times I'm sure they noted I seemed somewhat distant and lost in memories at times but they understood. I'm actually glad I went because it was hard for me but being at home it would have been much worse. If I would have stayed home. Bob confessed and  he said he was worried about me being at home with all the meds and said we are loosing 22 of you vets each day. I said well Bob I'm in no rush to be a statistic and I know where to go and also when to ask for help. I said there is a reason why I am still here. I may not know the reason right now. One day I will. Until I do I know God wants me to help others and so I will.

In the mean time I came along further then expected on guitar this last month. Of course I'm spending more time on the class then a normal student. So I'm  little further along then most are that started the same time as me.. It helps me deal with the grief and loss of Gina at night. A lot of things I thought I had forgotten from back when I was playing professionally and studied classical have come back quickly. I still have several months left in the course I am taking. It has a total of 20 sessions and I'm halfway through session 4 and I started the course 2 months ago. I found one artist that I am really impressed with and considering taking a one week work shop that he offers after I have completed this course. It will mean I have to go to Europe for that week He is very impressive and plays a style that is primarily flamenco with a nice subtle blending of classical guitar. If you get the chance you should see him play so pull up a youtube video or hit his website. His name is Estas Tonne. One song stands out most in my mind that I have seen him perform is "Song of the Golden Dragon". 

I still experiencing the highs and lows with missing Gina also this last month They seem to be a lot less extreme I guess you could say. New development about every third or fourth night I don't sleep at all. I don't get drowsy or tired  and I'm not necessarily dwelling on anything specific. I'm just totally wide awake for some reason and no loss of energy. like right now I wasn't sleepy and started typing this entry around 4:30 am and It's now 6:00 am. So another night I didn't sleep. Also this last month my appetite has improved and I'm eating more. I have started cooking a little bit as well. Cooking a small 3 or 4 course meal for me about 2 or 3 times a week now. I wasn't able to get stuff to the dump or materials from the hardware store to work on the house. The van I use for that I had to do some work on and there were a few things it needed that I had to take it to the shop for. Not because I don't know how to do them or didn't have the tools for. It was because my disabilities that kind of work as there is way too much stooping involved. Yes it does bother me that some things I used to be able to do I can't anymore. I'm already doing more on the house then I'm supposed to but it keeps me occupied and out of trouble I guess you could say. The vegetables are doing good. For starting late they are already producing. I got one squash plant that is already has a coverage of leaves that is about 5 to 6 ft across.

Lacemaker

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Re: Been a month
« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2017, 08:44:40 PM »
Hi Mark...So glad you took your brother up on his offer. None of us need to be alone on any of those special days that are triggers for us. Proud of you for stepping up and doing more cooking to take better care of yourself. And you know that Gina would be pleased with you for it to.. Sure wish you could sleep though. Amazed you have no lack of energy.. On my long nights I sure feel zapped.. Keep taking care of yourself and try not to overdo to much. Its easy when we are trying to keep ourselves busy sometimes to not think of consequences of our actions till we are hurting.. Hope you have a good week. :cat:

Raven2017

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Re: Been a month
« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2017, 07:35:29 PM »
Hi Mark,
I'm glad to hear that you went away.  I was thinking about you during that time and hoping that you would be with people that care about you. It's still hard but it lessens the time that you have alone to think and re-think everything. I guess that we will always have so many special days that we have to learn to handle in the best way that we know how. 
I completely understand that you would be putting in extra time with your guitar. You seem to be adding more things to your routine...is that because you want to be really busy or does it really help you cope?  I guess keeping your mind busy is very important.
You give me hope that some things will get better.  It would be nice to cook again or to eat for some other reason than to just survive.

JustMark

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Re: Been a month
« Reply #7 on: July 18, 2017, 09:58:41 PM »
It's now been 4 months since Gina passed. There is hardly a moment that goes by that she isn't on my mind in one way or another with all the memories I have with her or the things we had planned. I know I have done quite a few things since she passed but sometimes it seems like I haven't gotten anything done. No one really stops by anymore except about once a week when me and my mom get together and go shopping or catch lunch. Both my younger brother's and daughters work schedules now has them working overtime. This last month there have also been a few days I didn't even have the motivation to pick up the guitar.

One of the pups from Sarge's and Dainy's litter has returned. Well he's not really a puppy anymore. His name is Ben. So with Sox, Two Toez and Tunnie it now means I have 4 from the littler Sarge and Dainy had in 2009. We used to babysit Dillinger, one of the other litter mates but he died in 2014 after struggling with lymes disease for 9 months. Ben looks just like Sarge but he is a few inches shorter. The family that had adopted Ben separated last year and Keith the husband can't have pets where he lives in MA. Keith had first mentioned they were separating to Gina last year and his wife would take Ben. Gina mentioned to Keith we would take Ben back as a last resort if they couldn't keep him. So Keith called me up last week and I quickly fenced off a section of my yard real quick. Ben is well behaved with people and kids. I am not sure about other dogs so I'm being careful. Ben is not used to living in a house with other dogs. So we are keeping Ben isolated from the other dogs but they still all can see each other as well as I can maintain controlled interaction between Ben and the others for now. Call me over cautious or over protective protective all you want. I know this breed and have been around this breed for years.
 

Raven2017

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Re: Been a month
« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2017, 06:52:43 PM »
Mark,
I wouldn't call you over-protective, I think you are just being smart.  It's better to be safe.  How is Ben doing after having a couple of weeks in your home?
It's funny...Jim has been gone for 3 1/2 months now and it's strange to me how people just seem to carry on with their lives in a normal way.  They are back in their routine and it was just a small "blip" in their lives.  Rationally, I know that is how it works but inside, I am horrified that everything can be normal when our world has been devastated forever.  I also get the weekly calls now though sometimes, I am happy with that as it leaves me time to be by myself.
I hope you have picked up your guitar again.  I think it's important to do things like that though for the life of me, I can't think of anything that motivates me.

JustMark

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Re: Been a month
« Reply #9 on: July 30, 2017, 08:01:36 PM »
Thanks for asking Raven. Ben seems to have settled in nicely but I am still allowing him time to acclimate with the other dogs before I attempt to introduce them one at a time. Because Ben was raised separate from his litter mates that have been living here all these years is they are a pack and think that way. Where as Ben is used to not having to compete with being the center of canine attention with the humans in a house hold. So we are still taking it gradually. I'm making sure he has some alone time with me every day so that he realizes he doesn't have to compete for attention at the same time it's affording Sox, Tunnie and Two Toez the opportunity to gradually accept him into the pack. So before long I will be able to let Sox, Tunnie and Two Toez meet individually and asses from there whether more time  or something else is needed.  I have gotten back to the guitar and my lessons. I also bought my first electric acoustic with acoustic amp. It was a beginners set. All the basic necessities for guitar playing but the quality of the guitar isn't the greatest but the amp alone was worth the investment. So next month I'll buy a pick up or transducer for my clasical guitar and get a luthier or guitar tech to install it.  As far as the electric acoustic that came with the set it's ok for playing chords and rythm and as it turns out it's good as a slide guitar. So next month I'm also going to buy a slide for it and put the shot glass I had been using on it for now back in the souvenir rack. Of course that just means I'll have to buy a decent steel string electric acoustic later.

In hitting the music stores for supplies and slowly accumulating odds and ends here and there these last few months I did manage to find a good bass amp at a pawn shop. All I had before was an amp for an electric 6 string I had been using for my bass but it didn't give those deep rich bottoms only a bass amp can give to a bass. I also bought a looper pedal and sound effects software I loaded on my laptop and smart phone along with the cables and adapters so I can plug my bass or my other guitars  into the laptop then plug the laptop into the looper peddle then amp. Why go to all the expense of buying all those separate effects peddles or spend $500 or more on a multiple effects pedal or rack processor when all you need is software and a laptop or smart phone and a few cable adapters. The only other effects I would need to get is a wahwah pedal and talk box and I would have them all. I have also been eying up an archtop hollow body for jazz, a six string bass, keyboard amp, synthesizer and small mixing and recording setup. So no I haven't put the guitar down or music away. I'm just getting started again after all these years. Maybe I forgot to mention it but Gina used to say "the only difference between the men and the boys are the price of the toys".  I still have no idea where she got that idea from :)
 
It just seems to hit me in spurts for 3 to 4 days at a time that I don't want to do anything. It's not only due to the loss of Gina but also the symptoms of depression. I never meant to come off of my meds or loose touch with a psych monitoring my prescriptions but when I started caring for Gina everything for my self got placed on hold. Naturally the meds I had got depleted.  The Veterans admin has a new psych assigned to me and I meet with them for the first time on August 25th. There is a 90 day wait due to availability but they aren't trying to hide it or BS about it like they did before the scandal. In the meantime they have me seeing a psychologist every two weeks. When the scandal broke in 2014 I sort of did a transition into the private sector. So I guess you could say I'm returning to the VA but I haven't seen any changes except one real big one and an important one. I no longer get the sense that the staff and doctors have the us against the vet attitude and they really do want to work or care for me and other vets. I no longer feel like I'm a number there and the medical staff is now asking me for ideas and suggestions not only on how they can improve but to see what sort of ideas I may have about my own treatment. Heck even an ortho doctor asked me about preference for type of replacement hip I would like. So I told them from a mechanical engineering perspective why I would never put a metal on metal hip or replace any joint in the human body with metal on metal. He acted surprised that I knew what I was talking about. I told him the same laws of physics, math and chemistry apply to the inside the human body that apply outside of it, including to the industrial systems I used to design. Anyway even if there are other changes I have noticed or not. That change alone is probably the most important one. It means a lot to me and other vets.

Lacemaker

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Re: Been a month
« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2017, 07:00:00 PM »
Hi JustMark,  So glad to hear that you are picking your music  back up.. Music can be so soothing to the soul, Or at least that Is the way it always seems to me. Its like it can transform you to another place.. Also glad you are back taking care of yourself again. It is so easy to get off track while caring for a loved one and then when you realize it especially after a loss like we have all suffered sometimes you just don't even care anymore. Glad you are reaching out for the help. And so glad to hear that the VA is finally taking better care of the men and women who have served our country so bravely. As for Ben what breed of dog is he. Sounds like you are making the transition with the dogs wisely.. Hope it all works well where they can all get along.

JustMark

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Re: Been a month
« Reply #11 on: August 03, 2017, 09:27:54 PM »
Hi Lacemaker, all music is spiritual in one form or another. It's a 20 session course I am taking and today after 3 months I am starting session 7 which is barre chords. It will be a good review for me. For me music is more then just soothing. Yes I can express all my emotions with it. Even though people hear me talk about bass I also wasn't half bad on a 6 string acoustic. A lot of young guitar players think the key to being a good guitarist is who can play the fastest lead and they are wrong. Mechanically...... it may sound like a good song but it's lacking something. The truth is really you could be slow as heck but when the crowd is captivated feels your emotion that is the key to being a good guitarist. A good example is the difference between lets say Eddie Van Halen playing eruption or George Harrison's lead in as my guitar gently weeps. Both of them are good songs and Eddie is a lot faster then George Harrison but the one most people will likely stop and listen to...........as my guitar gently weeps because it has emotion it's also considerably slower.
There is one piece I am presently working on learning to perform at the end of this course. Look up an artist named Estas Tonne and the title is "Song of the Golden Dragon". It will also give you an idea of the caliber of player and the kinds of songs I played on acoustic way back in the late 70's and very early 80's and here *I am relearning barre chords.

JustMark

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Re: Been a month
« Reply #12 on: August 19, 2017, 12:10:45 AM »
Well it's now 5 months since Gina has passed. Wednesday on Gina's anniversary, the psych doctor that I was scheduled to see the 28th to start me back on meds called me and let me know she could see me that afternoon after my appointment with my doctor. I said sure two weeks early works for me. So after I met with my psychologist I met my new psychiatrist and I think she is going to work out well with me. She is friendly, professional and I found her easy to talk to. She also sent me home with a relaxation CD. That seems to work pretty good. Also this week I have noted Ben seems to be responding to training much better then expected. Without command he is now stopping at curbs to assist me in stepping up onto or down from a curb. Working with a service dog I wear the leash over one shoulder so my hands are free to carry things or brace myself on things like hand rails and such. I noted there is no tension in his leash about 80% of the time and he tries to keep his neck in line with my hip. Which is where he is supposed to be. I still find him allowing himself to get distracted but not as often as he did when we first started and while on the leash he is now ignoring other dogs.

The week started off with bad news. A friend of mine of almost 50 years named Tim lost his battle with cancer. Tim was a heck of a guitarist. Another mutual friend of the same length of time named Wayne posted on his facebook page that Tim had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and for everyone to keep him in their prayers on the 11th. As soon as I seen it posted I called David my brother, who was also a friend of Tim's and we were going to go visit him Tuesday the 15th but it wasn't going to happen. On the evening of the 12th, less then 24 hours of Wayne posting the diagnosis, Wayne announced Tim's passing. Wayne and Tim are playing in a southern rock band and I had spoken to Wane and mentioned I had returned to playing music back in June and we were going to jam from time to time in a couple more months when I was ready. There is also another singer guitarist from the old neighborhood named Walt that was going to sit in as well. Walt and I played in the same band during my pro days and it was Walt and I that first taught some things to Tim on guitar when he first started playing back in around 74 or 75. Walt is also presently in a band as well. Donna, Tim's wife had him cremated and there wasn't any viewings because that is what Tim wanted. Donna also mentioned that Tim wanted to remembered in good health and good times and that he also wanted a celebration of life in the form of big jam session with musicians he knew or bands he played in. IN talking to Wayne we got the impression Donna and Tim's mom needed financial help in some of Tim's expenses. So Wayne has coordinated the celebration / fundraiser September 30th Tim and Wayne's band is playing and so is Walt's band and a couple of other additional musicians including me and probably my younger brother too. Yes Wayne talked me into it. I wasn't going to at first but Wayne listened to me on my old bass and said your a little rusty but you still sound good. I don't think anyone will be expecting you to run circles around Geddy Lee or a 2nd Stanley Clark, besides you'll recognize some of the other players. You have played with several of them before they just don't know you returned to playing. It will be like old times. Just play a few Skynyrd songs. Just let me know 4 or 5 songs you want to do the week before so we can work them in. So if you are in the Baltimore area and looking for something to do the on 30th of September your welcome to stop on in and here me and other musicians.

Lacemaker

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Re: Been a month
« Reply #13 on: August 22, 2017, 06:34:15 PM »
Dear JustMark, So sorry for the loss of your friend Tim.. Seems like when we suffer one real bad loss like we all have then we get smacked in the face again. So glad you are going to be playing for the fundraiser. I think your friend would be well pleased with having you there. Glad Ben seems to be picking up the cues he is needing to be a good service dog. Let me know if the relaxation cd works. Sure could use something to help me to.

JustMark

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Re: Been a month
« Reply #14 on: August 28, 2017, 08:27:31 PM »
Well as of tonight we have now hit a stretch of time during the year in which almost every single day are anniversaries of key events in my life. They continue up to and include September 11th and then Gina's birthday on the 12th. Most of the memories of these anniversaries are sad and solemn for me but not all. There are one or two good ones like Gina's birthday. Although the memories of Gina's birthdays are happier times I still know I will get melancholy and yet still cherish them. So don't be surprised if you see me post more then usual as I'll probably vent I guess you could say. This is also the first year this string of anniversaries start on the 28th instead of the 29th as in previous years.

So what is so significant about this August 28th for me?  Today at this time last year Gina and I lost Sarge and loosing Sarge was the turning point that brought on the rapid decline of Gina. When Sarge passed it was a total surprise because we had no indication anything wrong or out of the ordinary. Gina sort of blamed herself for not being there with him. We had checked Sarge around 8:00 and he was laying down in the bedroom as he usually does and then we went into our office across the hall from the bedroom and we watched a few videos on youtube and I noted something out of the corner of my I and by then Sarge was laying at the door to the bedroom and something seemed odd to me and I got up to check and Gina was right behind me. Sarge was already gone. That something odd I caught in the corner of my eye was Sarge's final reflex.

Sarge was a very remarkable dog. I've owned several over the years and been around trainers and other dogs all my life but Sarge was different. Sarge was trained to be my service dog. Towards the end of his training he somehow adapted his training to not only help me but also Gina. He also would help others when he could. Out in public if Sarge seen someone with crutches, wheel chair, walker or maybe a special needs child he would give me a look like dad can I  and I would tell him go ahead. He would go up to them and walk along side so that if the person lost balance they could grab his collar and steady themselves. if they needed to get something off the floor he would go over and get it for them so they wouldn't have to bend over and if they did he would get close to them so he could help them like he does me. When I go grocery shopping or other stores because of the situation with my back the dogs are trained to get towards the front of me so I can put my hand right about the center of shoulder blades are so that they can take part of my weight, save wear and tare on my back and less pain, also so I can balance while reaching for the bottom shelf. Most of the people he tried to help didn't know what he was up to. So I would tell them he's trying to help you like he does me. Anyway I do miss the heck out of Sarge especially with Gina passing. Sarge was the father of the litter and Dainy was the mom we lost her July 29th 2013. I think it's a good thing that Ben is here with me right now. When the pups were still here before they left later in 2009 Ben's original name was "Big Man" and he is just like his dad Sarge not only in looks but also behavior. He's not as big as Sarge but he was called Big Man because he was the biggest of the litter. I doubt he will be as thoroughly trained as was because some things he may not learn because of his age but he is trying.