Amber Steenbock

May 1, 1977 - December 17, 2014

Dear Caleb

Dear Caleb,

Happy fourth birthday! Four is a good age to be. You learn lots of things when you are four, and your mommy and daddy tell me that you are really smart already. I'm proud of you.

I'm writing this because I couldn't find a birthday card that look like something you would find fun. I don't know what you are going to do for your birthday, or what kind of cake you are going to have. My favorite is carrot cake with peanut butter frosting! I know that sounds funny, but it tastes really good.

Guess what? I might be getting a puppy today! She is a German Shepherd, which means she is bigger than Zoe already, but if everything works out, she will learn how to help me do things like pick things up off the floor or open doors for me when she gets bigger. (Dogs are called grown-ups when they are only one year old.  Isn't that funny?) It's going to be kind of hard for me to teach her the things she needs to learn by myself when she is a puppy, because my legs and arms don't work as well as yours do. But I have people that say they will help me.

I need your help, too! I need you to pray for me and my new puppy! (I haven't decided on her name yet. I will tell you what it is when I know.) That we will be a good team so that I can keep her.

Dogs that help people like me do things that they can't do by themselves are called service dogs. Helping me will be her job, so after she passes some tests, I will be able to take her with me to places that other dogs are not allowed to go, like inside stores. She will wear a special uniform so people will know she is working. When she comes home, she doesn't have to wear the uniform, and she can just play like you play with Zoe. But the reason I really need you to pray is that I have tried three other times to get a service dog, and it didn't end up happening.

I had to give the puppy to someone else because she wasn't listening to me at all, and I didn't want her to hurt herself. I even tried one who is little like Zoe. But she had to go away because she jumped down when she wasn't supposed to and I almost hit her with my wheelchair. I never want to hurt a dog, so if it's not safe for one to work with me, I will always make sure they go somewhere safe even if they can't work with me. But I really want one to be able to.

And, she would help keep me company when I get lonely, mostly at night. Does Zoe sleep on your bed with you?

I was thinking about you all this week. I don't know much about what you like, except that you are good at making things with stickers! I like stickers very much. And you also like to ride around in big things with wheels, just like your daddy. What kind of music do you like? Are you learning to play guitar like your daddy, or violin like your mommy? Your daddy's favorite kind of music is called country, and I'm not sure about your mommy. What's your favorite animal? I like all kinds of music, as long as it doesn't have bad words, and my favorite animal besides my puppy is a monkey! I love monkeys! Have you ever seen Curious George? He is really funny, and ends up getting into trouble because he is so curious. But he helps the humans around him too. The human that he lives with is the man with the big yellow hat.

Do you like to play pretend? When I was four, I would pretend my wheelchair was a spaceship or a race car.

And when your mommy was four, she played on a soccer team. I think I saw a picture of you playing. Do you play soccer? Everywhere else in the world, they call soccer football. But we have a different silly kind of football here. It doesn't make sense that they call football here football. Because they only kick the ball a few times. I like soccer very much! I can even play it, really, even though I'm in a wheelchair! They put something on the front of my chair called a guard so that the ball doesn't go underneath my chair, and we play it inside. Otherwise, the rules are the same. We drive very fast like you run and try to get the ball inside our goal! It's very fun.

But I don't play it right now, because people on the other team are also in wheelchairs and they can run into my wheelchair to try to get the ball away from me. This can break my wheelchair, and it's the only big one that I have. The other people have other chairs, but wheelchairs cost a lot of money, so now I go bowling instead. There, I can just push the bowling ball down a ramp, and it will start going down the lane and hit the pins, just like anyone else playing. Last time, I got a trophy because I got the highest score of all the girls! 

I guess I should let you go enjoy the rest of your birthday now. But I wanted you to know that I didn't forget you, and that I love you very much. Maybe I will try talking to you on the phone later today, if you are not busy.

Remember to have fun doing everything you can, because even though one year feels like it takes forever to you right now, when you get to be my age, they seem to go faster, and you will enjoy remembering everything fun that you did and learned when you were younger. So try to remember.

Have the best birthday ever! (Until next year. Giggle.)

Love always,

Auntie Amber

Copyright © 1995-2014 Amber Steenbock
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