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Speaking in Cursive

Walking through this extraordinary life.

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

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 kids called the asbestos room. My son thought it would be the perfect Mothers day gift for me.He was right.

It was his Junior year in high school, 2009. He had been taking an A.P. test, finished early and had time to kill. And some Mothers Day shopping to do.Only one of my kids would see an old, itchy, ugly sweater from 40 years ago and think..”YES!”

Listen, as the mom of four males, sometimes you are just glad they remember to put the toilet seat back down. So a gift, any gift is a bonus. One does not ever imagine or expect an asbestos sweater though.But he knew me. He knew I would “get” it. That I would laugh, and want to put it on, and wear it.He knew that I would tell everyone in a 50 mile radius about the amazing gift my kid got me.

Of course, there was the year that all of my sons forgot it was Mothers Day. My husband, being the smart man he is, knew that before I had a complete and total emotional meltdown, whisked me away to the casino for the day.

 

Through the years, I have had so many wonderful Mothers Day gifts and celebrations. There was the year one of them got me a bag of Doritos and a princess pillow. I mean, really, stuff I could use and need! There have been the years filled with homemade gifts from school(my favorite, and I miss every year).The years filled with flowers, and plants, and cakes and chocolates. And every single year since I became a mom, my husband Mark, spoils me.He makes me feel that he truly appreciates me as the mother of his sons.

The other night  I was chatting online with my son overseas. The asbestos sweater giver. I had asked if he was still planning on a visit home this summer. He told me his plans had changed and he wouldn’t be. And I began to ugly cry, in the dark. I wanted to have all my boys back, in one room again. Laughing. The kind of laughing that makes you lose your breath, and gasp for air. Because of  all the memories I have of being a mother, it is the laughter I recall the most. The things they said or did that made me just laugh until I cried.The way they knew I would get the joke, that I would just laugh. I hope when they look back, that is what they remember too. That their house was chaotic and crazy, and loud and messy. And filled with laughter. And that would be the best gift they could ever give me.

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Flea Markets and Scholarships

Our son Bryce received a scholarship yesterday for next fall. It wasn’t expected, so it was so awesome to see.It arrived by letter, snail mail style. As I opened it I was very happy for him, and called my husbands name to tell him. Standing in the kitchen, reading to Mark, he gave me the look we have become fluent in. The “someone can hear us” look. Our son Brett was listening to us. What was he thinking? Had I made him feel bad? I know he loves his twin, and all his brothers, but did he in that moment feel less than? And my heart sank a little bit.

We had promised to take Brett to a flea market. I had saved my tips from the salon, so my husband gave him some of it to spend as he wished there. We knew what it would be on, if he could find it. Video games, comic books, and candy.

Going to flea markets, stores, fairs, or anywhere in public with our son used to cause such panic and fear in me, in us. Positive he would wander off, get lost, or heaven forbid follow someone somewhere. But it has gotten better. A little bit.

When we arrived at the flea market, Brett made a quick exit from the car, and was on his way. We used to have to grip his hand so tight,struggling to keep him in our grasp. But now, we trust him, and we follow quietly and closely behind, making sure he doesn’t see us watching him. He scanned each booth quickly, weaving in and out on such a mission only he could understand.

My husband and I knew it wasn’t looking promising for him to find his treasures. However, at one point, I spotted him at a booth, money in hand. He struggles with math, and money skills, so wanting to make sure things were on the up and up, I quietly approached. “MOM”…..code word for, back off. I stopped, and he made his transaction, for a bag of taffy. We continued to walk away, when out of nowhere, Brett stopped and turned and dashed back. Convinced he had lost his wallet, I followed in hot pursuit, heart racing. He approached the booth, and reaching his hand in, grabbed his forgotten, almost empty Mountain Dew. I had to laugh at myself. I always assume the absolute worst in these situations.That someone had stolen his wallet, took the measly 30 bucks we had given  him and was already on a wonderful shopping spree at the flea market. But it was his soda. A dang soda.

Parenting four sons, on four totally different paths is such a balancing act. I felt so bad after going on and on about Bryce’s scholarship in front of his twin.Yet, I know, that the four of them are always beyond happy for each other and their success.And success is relative, right? I mean, just a few years ago, Brett would have had a major meltdown at the flea market, not finding what he wanted. Yesterday, as we were leaving the fairgrounds I apologized to him for it not being what he expected.” It’s okay mom.” That was a victory, that was success. And as usual, he taught me more than I could ever teach him.I can be happy, for each son, for each of their accomplishments,because none is greater or better than the next. Each step they make in the right direction, is a victory. Raise your Mountain Dew to that!

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