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Speaking in Cursive

Walking through this extraordinary life.

Emotional Paralysis

It’s been quite a while since I wrote here. Once again, I failed at continuing something that is probably beneficial to me. What’s new, right?  I’ve thought about this post for we…

Source: Emotional Paralysis

The apple that fell across the ocean

I can still remember the conversation, though I doubt he does. He was 15 and was pondering his future. “I just don’t feel this town has anything for me.” he said. “Right now you are a big fish in a small pond” I replied. “Someday, you will be a small fish in a big pond.” I just never imagined it would be an Ocean.

My son lives in China. He teaches at a university in Hangzhou.

Most days I have to remind myself of this. He is no longer just 10 hours away at school. He is oceans away, across continents and time zones. When people find out he lives there( already 2 years) they ask me “how could you let him move there?” That is usually the part I laugh, because, that has never been how we deal with our son.

I like to describe my son as George Bailey, from It’s a Wonderful Life. When George is sitting at the dinner table with his father, and his dad says to him ” you were born older, George.” that is how I see my son. An old soul, searching, yearning for more.We have video of him at 18 months, drawing faces and shapes and asking me to do the same. “What shape is this Tony?” I would say. “Octagon” he would mutter with his pacifier hanging from his mouth.Then it was dinosaurs. “Draw an Ornitholestes mom.” I would have to look up what the heck he was talking about.He knew them all, by 3. It was always something, he just craved learning and knowing more.

My husband and myself  are not big on far off adventures or traveling . Heck if we go a few hours away, we consider ourselves lucky.When the kids were growing up we took them on vacations, but usually just “up north”. So where he got the urge to travel and see the world I will never know. In his almost 25 years he has become a world traveler. His first out of the country trip came when he was 16, to Germany, with the high school. In my mind that is when it happened. His need to see the world. In college he studied abroad in Austria, and saw many of the surrounding countries over there. One of his Bachelor degrees is in German studies, so we assumed( and you know what they say about people who assume!) that possibly he would end up there, and we were okay with that. As okay as a parent can be with a child living out of the country, I guess. So when he sprung China on us,I couldn’t breathe.China. Either we are horrid parents and he is trying to get to the exact opposite side of the world from us, or we did a pretty good job. The jury is still out.

He graduated from college the Spring of 2014, and I watched the days on the calendar turn until his departure in August. How can he just go to a country, not knowing a soul, at the time only knowing a little of the language. How can he be so sure of himself? How can he be so determined? We took him to the airport, hugged him at security, and tried not to lose it until we got to the car. We barely unlocked the doors to the vehicle when not only did the skies open up and begin to pour, but so did our eyes. And there in a car in the airport parking lot, my husband and I cried our eyes and hearts out.Our son was moving across the world.

Now, our means of communication are Facebook or Skype. I joke with him about not responding to my posts to him, or not returning my messages. One time I sent him a message asking if he wanted to Skype soon. He responded 10 days later, “can’t right now mom, I am working.” Sometimes I will simply send a message asking if he is dead, which usually garners a faster response. I can still work that Mothers guilt thing when I want to.I find myself sometimes incredibly envious of the parents  who have adult kids  that have decided to stay close to “home”. The ones who have their kids and grandchildren over for dinner, or take trips together. They have no idea how blessed they are. But then I remember that conversation from 10 years ago.

Last night we Skyped with him, after almost a month of little to no communication. It was great to hear his voice and see he is happy. Two of his brothers were also there to talk with him. As usual he lit up when he saw his “puppies”. I asked my usual questions like” when are there going to be grandbabies?” At one point, my husband asked him if he ever had Lemon iced tea. “You see guys, this is why we shouldn’t talk every day, this is what we would have to talk about!”he said.Maybe he is right. Maybe for him, he is confident in the love we have for him, that nothing, not time, or distance will change that. He knows we will always be here, in the small pond,supporting him and his next adventure. I keep asking how long he plans on staying there, to which he responds “when I am completely fluent in the language.” I have no clue how long that takes, but I also know, he will never come “home” to live. After China I am sure there will be some other place he will need to be. A new adventure. A need to learn something new about somewhere new, to calm his old soul.But sometimes, a mom just needs to hear a voice and see a face to keep her treading water to stay afloat.

They were Somebody’s Someone

And the greatest of these is Love.

I only hate one thing. Hate. I can not wrap my head around what happened in Orlando,or anywhere else these horrible murders have taken place. I can’t get my brain or my heart to go there, to that place of evil, that would allow you to commit such an act.I just do not understand. Every person killed was somebody’s someone.

A son

A father

A daughter

A mother

A nephew, A niece.

A grandchild.

A neighbor, A friend.

They meant something, to someone. And shouldn’t that be enough? As a human, shouldn’t that count? Shouldn’t it stop them in their tracks? Because aren’t they somebody’s someone?

I think of the mother who was there, and covered her sons body with her own, to save him. She was killed, he survived. That is love.To lay down your life for another. Not to take another life.I don’t have the answers, and I don’t pretend to. I just hope that when I raised my sons, I taught them to stop and help those in need, to be kind to everyone, Love everyone. That we all hurt, and bleed and  need love.

 

Embrace more than you are embraced
Hear more than you are heard
Lead more than you are lead
Help more than you are helped
Console more than you are consoled
Touch more than you are touched
Protect more than you are protected
Soothe more than you are soothed
Heal more than you are healed
Please more than you are pleased
Trust more than you are trusted
Adore more than you are adored
Forgive more than you are Forgiven
Love more than you are loved
What goes around should come around,in the end

 

 

Of Buckets, Beards and Birthdays

“Learn from our mistakes”, we said to him. Saying what every parent says at some point to their child. I don’t even remember what we were talking about to say that to him, but I will never forget his response.”But what if I am supposed to learn a different lesson.” Frozen in my tracks, it changed how I parented forever.My stubborn, strong willed, middle son had just taught me an invaluable lesson.

Today is my son Nathan’s 23rd birthday. The age I was when I had him. He is my second son, my middle child, even though there are four sons.(Twins are the youngest).  From the day he was born, he was stubborn, and silly, and tenacious and unique.  He crawled by 5 months, walked at 10 months. At about 1.5 yrs old, he became obsessed with Frosty the Snowman. We watched it over and over, for about 2 yrs. He would find a bucket, and that was his hat. He would NOT let us take it off. We would struggle to remove it at bath or bed time.He would win. Buckethead prevailed.

At about 3 years old he fell in love with Santa Claus. He dressed like him every day. Full outfit. It could be 100 degrees outside, he had on his beard and wig. He dressed like him for Halloween. The neighborhood girls would pull him in a wagon around town, as he yelled” Ho Ho Ho Merry Christmas!” every day, year round. We tried to distract him, but no, He was Santa, and that was that.Eventually,he had us call him Scott Calvin, from the movie The Santa Clause. This kid was going to live life his way. We just were along for the ride.

His school years started and they were met with excitement and struggles.He had some very major health scares. When you are told your child more likely than not has cancer, will need surgery and treatment, your world stops.He was 6.The specialists were convinced he had lymphoma,and took him away for surgery. And my husband and I were devastated. One song  played over and over in my head  He’s My Son by Mark Schultz

I’m down on my knees again tonight,
I’m hoping this prayer will turn out right.
See, there is a boy that needs Your help.
I’ve done all that I can do myself
His mother is tired,
I’m sure You can understand.
Each night as he sleeps
She goes in to hold his hand,
And she tries
Not to cry
As the tears fill her eyes.

Can You hear me?
Am I getting through tonight?
Can You see him?
Can You make him feel all right?
If You can hear me
Let me take his place some how.                                                                                                                    See, he’s not just anyone, he’s my son.

Sometimes late at night I watch him sleep,
I dream of the boy he’d like to be.
I try to be strong and see him through,
But God, who he needs right now is You.
Let him grow old,
Live life without this fear.
What would I be
Living without him here?
He’s so tired,
And he’s scared
Let him know that You’re there.

Can You hear me?
Am I getting through tonight?
Can You see him?
Can You make him feel all right?
If You can hear me                                                                                                                                              Let me take his place some how.
See, he’s not just anyone, he’s my son.

They told us after the surgery, the Oncologist and surgeon would take us to a separate room, to plan his treatment. The doors opened, and my husband and I stood up, expecting to be taken to the room.”Sit down.” the surgeon said.” I don’t know how or why, but it’s not cancer. Everything pointed to cancer.”  Buckethead 1 Cancer 0

As he got older, the adventures of Nate continued. Like the year he decided to change how he laughed. Like it’s a choice? But he did. He said for 1 year he would only laugh  “HA!” And for 1 year, he kept that promise.One, single loud HA! Which of course only made the rest of us crack up. And I miss hearing his HA so much.

Buckethead grew up, and graduated and moved away for college. Graduated from MMI and then moved again. And now he is about to move across the country to Seattle, with his girlfriend Emma. And as happy as I am for them, to be starting a life together, I wish I could have him back home, little again. Wishing I could spend countless hours watching Santa movies in the heat of summer with him. But he has lessons to learn,that I can’t teach him. Because he might learn a different lesson than I would.It is his journey.

He has his own dreams and life wishes. He has to do what he wants to do.Kind of like he always has. We might have different beliefs, and opposite ways we view some things.But one thing will never change, the love and respect I have for him.And how grateful I am to have learned so many lessons from him.

Happy Birthday Scott Calvin.I  love you. HA!

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His brothers keeper

And love will hold us together
Make us a shelter to weather the storm
And I’ll be my brother’s keeper
So the whole world would know that we’re not alone

I shouldn’t have been surprised when the doctor told me I was having twins, simply by looking at me from across the room. Twins are everywhere on my husbands side of the family. Twin sisters, nieces, cousins. Yet somehow I was still shocked. How in the heck could we handle two more babies. At the time we already had a 4 year old and 2 year old son. So at 14 weeks along when the ultra sound showed two more boys, we were speechless.But we were so excited at the endless possibilities about to come our way. We had no way of knowing what the future actually held.

They came into the world fighting, 6 weeks premature.Yet, were by all appearances healthy.They continued that path, for the most part, until about 2 yrs of age. That is when we noticed some delay’s in Brett, but looking back, I see we were in denial about just how many and how severe.The summer before kindergarten they had their screening. The teachers pulled me aside and said they wanted to put them in different classrooms come fall. They were concerned that the twins were relying on each other too much. That Bryce was worried about Brett, and so he always “helped” him.The teachers felt it would help Brett become more independent. I reluctantly agreed. Honestly, I was more worried about the inconvenience it might cause me, having to deal with two rooms and two sets of rules.How selfish I was. So I agreed.

Every morning, I would walk them to school. I would watch Bryce go into his classroom, and I would hold Brett’s hand as he cried,wanting to go with his twin, his best friend.It was heartbreaking.They wanted to be together. They needed to be together.But, they shouldn’t be together. They were two different souls, on two very different trajectories.Just how different I had no way of knowing. I also had no way of knowing, at the time, how much pressure I was about to put on Bryce.Asking him to be my eyes and ears when I couldn’t be.To be his brothers keeper.

Once in 1st grade, I asked that they be placed in the same homeroom. Seeing as Brett would be pulled for special ed most of the day, I felt being able to go into the same room every morning would help ease the stress.They obliged, and from that year until high school, they were put in at least the same home room.And while Brett struggled, and fought every step of the way, Bryce was labeled Gifted and Talented in 2nd grade. So I was dealing with I.E P’s and College for Kids. I was straddling a tight rope. So in my ignorance I put a lot of responsibility on Bryce, to watch over Brett. Every morning I would say to Bryce,” Make sure you sit with him at lunch, make sure you help tie his shoes, make sure you help him zip his coat, make sure you help him with his locker….” the list would go on and on. I did this every damn day for 8 years. I honestly had no idea the pressure I put on him. My husband and I jokingly referred to Bryce as “the informer”. Each night we would say “how was school today, what did Brett do?” He would fill us in. Telling us of the events of the day, and all things Brett. “He couldn’t get his snow pants on mom” or “He fell off the jungle gym at recess, mom.” Each day we would hear all about Brett’s day, and we could feel the sadness in his voice. He was so concerned about his brother, his twin. And he was my spy, so I felt like I knew everything that was going on. Recently we came across an old home video. Bryce is talking to his brother Nate about how Brett sat alone at recess.”Bryce you have to play with him” Nate said. “I know.” he said.

I saw the twins, as just that, Twins. A duo, a group, yet a singular being. We didn’t say their names individually.We said “the twins” or “the babies”. Somehow, I had lost that Bryce was his own person apart from his brother. He had his own dreams and goals.I just was too busy making sure he took care of Brett when I couldn’t. I didn’t even see the pressure this put on him.Until the summer going into their freshman year. There would be no more same homerooms, or lockers by each other. Their paths were about to diverge, and there was nothing I could do about it, except let it happen. Bryce came to me one morning that summer with such a concerned look in his eyes. Those that know him personally, know that Bryce is a man of few words. He does not seek nor want attention. He avoids it. And he certainly doesn’t share his feelings. So I knew something was bothering him.”What is it?” I asked. It seemed like an eternity but then he said,”Mom, who is going to open Brett’s locker, or make sure he gets to the right class? Who is going to make sure he changes into his gym clothes?” He kept going, asking me, basically, who is going to do for Brett what he had done all those years? That is when it hit me, what I had done to him .I had made him be responsible for someone else. “That is not your problem honey, that is mine.I want you to enjoy high school, and do the things you want.Brett is my responsibility, not yours.” And I felt so ashamed, and sad. How did I put so much pressure on him?

As expected their high school years were quite different. While Brett had I.E.P’s all through high school, Bryce had advanced classes. He was gifted academically and athletically. He had more friends than I could count. His high school years were filled with social events, and prom and homecoming courts and with all conference awards for sports. He was Bryce. Singular. And while he would still fill me in on things he heard Brett had done during the day, it wasn’t expected of him to know or to tell. When the time came for Bryce to choose a college, and move away, we left that up to him. It was his life he had to live. Not ours and not his twins. He continues to amaze us with his academic abilities (Deans List 4 semesters straight!)  and with his quiet strength and compassion.While away at school he would text everyday, usually asking “what is Brett doing?” I think, maybe, even without me telling him to, he would’ve watched over him all those years. You see, he never stopped being his brothers keeper.

Alphabet Soup

It has been 8 days since our last D.V.R. appointment, and no word on our next meeting or plan. I am tired of meetings, and case workers and no jobs for my son or no answers And I am frankly tired of sifting through this alphabet soup.

Since 2001, it seems as though our life has been ruled by initials. I.E.P’s, E.E.G’s,D.V.R, A.S.D., C.E.S.A. The list goes on and on, and I am screaming S.O.S.! I just want answers, a plan, and words that are real words, not codes.

Our son Brett had his first E.E.G.(An electroencephalogram (EEG) is a test used to detect abnormalities related to electrical activity of the brain. This procedure tracks and records brain wave patterns. Small metal discs with thin wires (electrodes) are placed on the scalp, and then send signals to a computer to record the results.) in 2001 after suffering a seizure while at school. It would not be his last seizure or E.E.G. Later they would also test him with a sleep deprived E.E.G.(we had to keep him up all night, then bring him in for the test so they could try to induce seizure activity.) They wanted him to fall asleep hooked up to all these wires. He was in a hospital bed, with the rails on the side up. He couldn’t or wouldn’t fall asleep, so I crawled in with him. I think I was out before he was. He was diagnosed with complex partial seizure disorder.(Complex partial seizures last 1 to 2 minutes. These seizures may have an aura (or warning). Complex Partial Seizures include automatisms (such as lip smacking, picking at clothes, fumbling), unaware of surroundings or may wander.)  So this is when our I.E.P.’s began.

An I.E.P.(An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a written statement of the educational program designed to meet a child’s individual needs. Every child who receives special education services must have an IEP.) At least once, some times twice a year, we would sit down with his “team” at school. His teachers, his aide, the school psychologist and anyone else involved in his education plan. We would discuss what was expected of him for the year, his goals and long term plans. We did this  for 13 years. And for every single meeting I was a nervous wreck, with a lump in my throat,hoping I could find the right words, to be his voice.

Eventually the letters A.S.D. would be drilled into our brains.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is the name for a group of developmental disorders. ASD includes a wide range, “a spectrum,” of symptoms, skills, and levels of disability.

People with ASD often have these characteristics:

  • Ongoing social problems that include difficulty communicating and interacting with others
  • Repetitive behaviors as well as limited interests or activities
  • Symptoms that typically are recognized in the first two years of life
  • Symptoms that hurt the individual’s ability to function socially, at school or work, or other areas of life

Some people are mildly impaired by their symptoms, while others are severely disabled. Treatments and services can improve a person’s symptoms and ability to function. . According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  around 1 in 68 children has been identified with some form of ASD. These initials were and are a game changer.

With the autism diagnosis, we then were introduced to C.E.S.A.(Cooperative Education Service Agency). They would act as a go between if need be.

Eventually, Brett was old enough to sign on with D.V.R.(Department of Vocational Rehabilitation) This is a government agency, that is “supposed” to help train and educate people with disabilities, so they can work and hopefully live independently. We first signed Brett up at 14. Thinking we were doing the right thing.Convinced, by what they had promised, that we were setting a path for our son to reach the goals he had set for himself, and ones we thought he could attain.If I sound less than pleased, it is because I am. I know this, we held up our end of the deal, for at least 6 years now.We did Everything they asked,every test, every job fair, every pointless, drawn out meeting. We were there. Brett hated every second, but we dragged him to everything, thinking that the struggle would be worth it all. Now I am not so sure. During all this we also have used A.D.R.C.(Aging and Disability Resource Centers.

A.R.D.C. and D.V.R. are both Government agencies, and as expected, they don’t communicate with each other. So there have been delays, and misplaced paperwork, and precious time lost. But, we have our ducks neatly in a row. We have done everything both agencies have asked of us. The balls are in their court.A whole bag of balls. I am running out of patience and initials.  I just want answers, and a plan for our son, A.S.A.P.

The Us before Them.

 

I forgot my phone in the hotel room and I was panicked.What if one of the kids needed me, what if something was wrong with the dogs? My husband assured me all would be okay.We had gone away for the weekend. Just the two of us.

I have known my husband practically my whole life. His mom and my mom bowled together. I would ride in the back of her station wagon eating my peanut butter sandwich and then she would drop me off at school. Continue reading “The Us before Them.”

Wide Awake

 

My son Bryce comes home from college today for the summer, and his twin has been up since 4 a.m. beside himself with excitement. But he will never admit to that. I am not sure he can.

I am a very light sleeper anyway, but I began to hear rumblings at about 3:30 a.m. I went downstairs, only  one eye partially open, dogs following in hot pursuit. The lyrics to the song “My name is NO” forming in my mouth. Brett was up, and I knew why. Bryce, his twin, would be home today. “What are you doing up?” I asked. “Don’t judge me!” he declared.I explained that I was, in fact, Not judging him,but rather just curious. “I just couldn’t sleep.” he said. “Brycie comes home today!” I exclaimed, to which he responded “Oh Shit!” He was trying to act like he didn’t know or care.I knew better.

He began  stimming Continue reading “Wide Awake”

Laughing my way through

Not many moms can say they received a stolen, used, old choir sweater for Mothers Day,but I can. Proudly.We refer to it as the Asbestos Sweater. It had been stored at the high school, in a room the…

Source: Laughing my way through

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