Opinion

Everyone deserves to be remembered for something dignified

Having both parents die, his mother from cancer and his father in an auto accident, left young Andy Andrews spending his nights sleeping under a pier. By day he worked on boats and by nights he used his library card to read the “biographies of great men and women.”

In them, he searched for clues as to what would make an ordinary person great.

He came up with seven decisions all great men and women make at one time or another. He presents these seven decisions in a DVD, titled appropriately enough — “7 Decisions.”

Never heard of Andy Andrews? Nor had I, but the woman who placed the DVD in my hands said cryptically, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears, I think you need this.”

After watching it four times before loaning it to someone else, I was struck that I hadn’t heard of Andy Andrews prior to this introduction and wondered how that was possible.

He’s a well-known comedian, best-selling author and motivational speaker. He has offered trainings across the globe and is invited into board and briefing rooms for major corporations, as well as the military.

His seven decisions aren’t new. He tells you as much.

Yet how he presents them and the touches he adds make all the difference.

After listening to him, I found myself chanting a decision or two, especially No. 3, the one he saves for last and the one he considers the most important — “what you do matters.”

How simple is that? What you do matters?

I think about this decision as I walk my dog. Walking the dog involves a multitude of plastic bags stuffed inelegantly in my pocket until they are full. (I don’t want to paint you a picture of me carrying dog poo in my pocket.)

No, I carry enough of it in small plastic bags.

I’m pretty militant about picking up all the dog drops. Not because the stuff is unsanitary and unsightly. Nor because I don’t want to step in it later.

Although those are all good reasons, they are not my primary reasons.

No, I pick up my dog’s poo religiously, because of a naval officer’s wife and a memory that haunts me.

Did she teach me how to pick up dog poo correctly? Did she set a good example?

Well, not exactly. Let me draw you a picture, not of dog poo, of course, but of the situation.

I was nearly eight months pregnant, so picture me huge, incredibly and undeniably huge.

We might as well be accurate. I carry large babies and this particular child, in this particular situation, was deciding to grow to an unwieldy ten and a half pounds. I didn’t know that yet.

I didn’t even know that he had turned himself around and went breach in the seventh month. I was to discover those two things in a most painful fashion later.

Being this huge made seeking the “Yard of the Month” award at our place in naval housing difficult at best. However, I was crazed with determination.

Every month the award went to a different family in East and West Housing on the Bangor Base in Silverdale.

My neighbors said that it never came to them. They said the judges were prejudiced against our sad little neighborhood.

As the baby and I grew in size, my commitment to proving them wrong grew to a scary zeal.

I figured I’d pluck and prune and plant up my little corner lot until no judge in their right mind would pass up handing me that award.

It wasn’t easy. Like I said I was huge and the corner lot sloped down six feet.

As I climbed the slope to pluck with full bulk to pluck and prune and plant, I’d tumble down this six-foot hill, more often than not, knocking down at least one of my preschoolers.

He or she would then tumble with me and we’d land in a tangled mess at the bottom.

As I grew, I should and would have stayed off that slope. Only a daily occurrence rendered that decision impossible if I were to win the Yard of the Month award.

Every day a young Navy bride would walk along the sidewalk on my street with her large dog. Every day that dog would choose my lawn to dirty on and every day I would pull myself up that slope and clean up the poo before the judges managed to see it.

Did I ever meet or talk to this young bride? No.

Did I learn her name? No, she died before I ever could.

It happened while her husband was out to sea, on a trip she took to see her in-laws in Arizona. Her father-in-law didn’t see the car bear down on his motorcycle.

He was killed instantly. She died a week or two later from a blood clot in the lungs.

Even though that tragedy happened 18 years ago, I think about her often as I walk my dog and collect his poo. Sadly, the only memory I have of this young bride is of dog poo.

And frankly, that seems so unfair.

I had been bugging the South Kitsap Parks & Recreation commissioners for years and now am bugging the Kitsap County Park’s Department to give us the space for a Peace Memorial Garden at the South Kitsap Regional Park.

I was more than a little concerned when Martha Droge with the department told me that they already have a mandate with WSU Cooperative Extension and the Port Orchard Rotary to create a memorial garden in honor of a Rotary founder. The county was gifted $15,000 from the Rotary club to do so.

They had to move this “mandated” garden from the Howe Farm, which apparently lacks sufficient water to plant the previously approved gardens.

While I don’t have a problem with a club, especially this one, honoring an important member, I believe a memorial garden at the park, especially that park, should be all-inclusive.

In other words, I think if and when we start dividing that park up into its various uses and designs, a memorial garden needs to be open to all. No offense to the Port Orchard Rotary Club that wishes to honor one of their own, but I would ask that they broaden their vision and scope.

Let this memorial garden honor venerable community fathers and mothers, as well as everyone and anyone who holds a place in the hearts of someone in South Kitsap.

Because frankly, everyone deserves to be remembered by something that’s more honorable, more dignified, more loving, more relative and relevant to his or her life, and more long lasting than dog poo.

Everyone deserves to have the 3rd decision said about them - that what they did, or were mattered.

I would love it if you would advocate for an all inclusive memorial garden at the park. You can do so by contacting Martha Droge and/or Chip Faver at mdroge@co.kitsap.wa.us and cfaver@co.kitsap.wa.us or (360) 337-5361.

Thank you.

Mary Colborn is a Port Orchard resident.

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