Turning Tragedy into Advocacy
In her early school years she was the quiet one. She had a sharp sense of humor and keen intelligence the few times she spoke but usually she just stayed to the side. If asked who in the class was an introvert, her name would have been in the top three. Life is funny, though, and sometimes it is in our darkest hours that we discover our voice and just how loud and effective our voice can be.
As the years passed, Cynthia became a teacher, excelling well in college and earning a master’s degree in education. She spent thirty-five years with classroom experience working with early childhood and elementary classes. Living in a large metropolitan area afforded her to chance to also teach at a local community college. Her passion, besides her husband, was literature and her pets.
Like many of us, though, Cynthia’s life revolved around what she knew and she never really had any experience with the pets that were homeless, lost, or abandoned. Never until one night left her feeling just as abandoned. It was a fairly regular night like so many she had lovingly shared with her husband but it suddenly turned into a nightmare. Her husband suffered a massive coronary. Paramedics rushed him to the hospital where he passed away shortly thereafter. Just that quickly Cynthia’s life changed.
Retiring just as she and her husband had always planned gave Cynthia a sense of somehow still having him in her life. The reality was, though, she was lonely, even with family nearby and her two older cats. She began writing for an internet publication, the Examiner. Suddenly Cynthia became an advocate for animals about 6 years ago because of some rumors about a local animal shelter. It started with the event with two dogs named Buck and Bill that led her curiosity to learning about her local animal shelter. Cynthia explains: “Bad events were getting some notice in the community and I decided to use my job with the Examiner back then to put this shelter in the spotlight. The city paper refused to shine a light so I started to do it.”
Most households in the United States have at least one pet. Studies have shown that the bond between people and their pets can increase fitness, lower stress, and bring happiness to their owners. Some of the health benefits of having a pet include decreased blood pressure, decreased cholesterol levels, decreased triglyceride levels, decreased feelings of loneliness, increased opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities, and increased opportunities for socialization.
Half of all wives are widowed before age 60. Cynthia became an unfortunate statistic in that Seven out of ten baby boomer wives are going to outlive their husbands. Those are daunting statistics for women and men alike and few are prepared for the reality of life on their own. That reality can be very overwhelming, especially in the beginning.
Life often throws us curveballs and how we react makes all the difference. The unexpected death of her husband was a crushing blow to Cynthia. Facilitating the local animal shelter in her area gave her a renewed sense of life. “Helping these dogs in this shelter has been a huge blessing to me to keep me going as a widow. The crowning event was looking into the eyes of an old German Shepard that was about to be euthanized and I said ‘Heck no they are not going to kill that dog.’ We found an adopter at the 11th hour.”
Cynthia today writes about children’s books as a reviewer as well as continuing her animal advocacy. You can read her reviews at www.hubpages.com/cindyhewitt and I strongly recommend them to anyone involved with children. She is a shining example of turning tragedy into a life of advocacy. When we help others we often help ourselves. Mahatma Gandhi once said “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” For Cynthia, this is true when helping people and pets. She is a great example of a woman making a difference!