Aaron’s Confusing Night

I’ve written before about how Aaron likes to keep lists of things in his life.  He has a list of the times he watches programs that he has recorded.  He keeps all sorts of sticky note lists around his room with info regarding his games.  But perhaps the most interesting itemizing that he does is the very precise list he keeps of when he goes to bed and when he gets up.  He has pages and pages of this information, somehow necessary to him and very important. 

Aaron arranges his bed in a specific order every night, too.  He sits up and reads one of his Handy Answer Books every night before bed.  He wears his sweater along with either his long or short pajamas.  He wears his watch and ring, as well as his glasses.  He leans on his “husband” pillow, the new black fuzzy one that he recently got at Target when he went in search of Mike and Ikes.  On his lap is another pillow on which he rests his book.  At his feet is his long body pillow that he sleeps on during the night.  Beside him he places his back scratcher as well as the little towel he constantly carries……..the one he wipes his hands on when he feels like they are messy……..because he can’t abide having messy hands. 

He will read awhile, depending on how sleepy he is, and then when it’s time for bed he will get up and clean off his bed, putting everything back in its precise place.  He’ll place his long pillow on the bed where it belongs for him to use during the night, with the zipper always on the left side.  Always!   He’ll remove his ring and his glasses and his sweater, also putting them in their proper spots.  He’ll plug in the baby monitor so that we can hear him in our bedroom if he has a seizure.  And just before he climbs into his bed, he will open his notebook to write down the exact time that he is going to now turn off the light and call it a night.  The first thing he does the following morning is to open that same notebook that he keeps by his bed and write down the precise time that he wakes up.  This is Aaron’s routine.  Every.  Single.  Night.    Every.  Single.  Day.

Except for last night, a night which was very different.  Aaron came striding into my bathroom this morning as I was getting ready to dry my hair.  “Mom!  Guess what happened last night?”   I asked him to tell me what happened………..he would anyway………..and he continued, “Well, I was reading before bed and then I woke up at 3:33!”

You did?!  “Yes!  And you know what?!” 

What?!   “I had all my stuff on and everything was still around me!  I had on my glasses and my ring and my watch and my sweater!”   With this, Aaron began to laugh.  He thought this was all just too funny.  He went on, “Around me there was my pillow that I lean on and my pillow on my lap and my pillow at my feet and my towel and my back scratcher!!”  And he laughed even harder, which made me laugh.  He had fallen asleep while reading and then woke up to this unusual scene.  He said, “I woke up because something was poking me in my back!  It was my back scratcher!”   More laughter………..from both of us.

I asked him what he did, and he told me, “I got up and I took off my ring and my watch and my glasses.  I cleaned off the bed, and then I laid down and went back to sleep.  That was funny, Mom!  I had everything on and everything around me!”

He was still amazed at this situation and still laughing, when it hit me.  I wondered about his notebook, so I asked him what time he wrote down for when he went to bed and when he got up.  He told me that he wrote down the first time he got up……3:33……..as well as the second time he got up, at 8:12.  Later, after he was gone for the day, I opened his notebook and sure enough, there it was……..both times.  I’m not sure about the going-to-bed times, but he did write down the two times that he got up.
 

Aaron is so interesting!  If he gets out of bed after sleeping, he will write that time down……..because he MUST!  After all, he has a list and this is the order of that list.  Aaron explained the situation very well, though.  We were on our way to meet his group and he once again was talking about his strange night.  “Mom, last night was very confusing!”

Yes, it was confusing, Aaron.  And to our Aaron, confusing is unacceptable……..and sometimes very funny! 

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

War!

War:  A struggle or competition between opposing forces or for a particular end

According to the above definition, Aaron and I are in a state of war.  We are actually in a state of war on two fronts.  One front has been ongoing for a long time…………the other is fairly new, but escalated today.

Moore War One:  The Fan Wars

Aaron has a tendency to get hot.  Not hot as in angry……well, sometimes he does do that…….but hot as in just hot……like sweaty hot.  Yuck!  Of course, it could have something to do with the fact that he often has his fuzzy blanket thrown over his lap as he sits at his desk and is on his computer.  And under that blanket may very well be long pajama pants, slipper socks AND slippers, and even a long sleeved shirt.  Never mind that we’ve told him time and again that he is way overdressed.  This is how he seems to be comfortable and if Aaron is comfortable then there is a slim-to-none chance that he will change what he is doing.

Aaron’s solution to being hot isn’t to dress lighter, although at times he does put on shorts along with a cooler shirt………while still using that fuzzy blanket.  His solution is to turn on his ceiling fan, no matter what time of year it is.  The whirring of his ceiling fan is a very common sound upstairs where his bedroom is located.

A year or two ago I bought him a little portable fan to put on his bookcase beside his desk.  I showed him how this fan could be used to blow on him and keep him from being so hot.  I thought that this was a great idea and was sure that Aaron would agree.  I should have known better.  Before long, we noticed that the fan was positioned to blow directly on Aaron’s computer………..not on Aaron himself.  So I moved the fan back to the blowing-on-Aaron position……only to walk in later and find it in the blowing-on-the-computer position.

When questioned, Aaron told us that his computer gets hot and so he uses his nice, new portable fan to blow on his computer in order to cool it down.  No amount of persuasion, pleading, demanding, or scientific data showing otherwise has caused Aaron to budge on this issue.  He is sure that his computer is too hot and that it needs the constant blowing of his fan in order to cool down and not explode, I guess.  Aaron keeps his ceiling fan on for himself, and has changed his little blowing-on-Aaron fan into a blowing-on-the-computer fan.

He also thinks that these fans need to be running constantly.  I do not agree.  When we leave the house, I always tell Aaron to turn his fans off.  And sure enough, sneaky Aaron will somehow manage on many mornings to keep those fans turned on……..as he did today.  Sometimes he’ll even go back into the house under the guise of getting something or doing something – but in reality he is sneaking back upstairs to turn those fans on.

So the Fan Wars continue and will for the foreseeable future, I’m sure.

Moore War Two:  The Body Wash Wars

Do you remember Aaron’s body wash that he said contained confetti?  Well, he threw it away one day because he said it was empty.  I rescued it from the trash because it was by NO means nearly empty.  When turned upside down, there were days and days of future showers in that bottle.  Listen, I am the woman who cuts open plastic bottles in order to use all the remaining face wash or lotion or other such things that are in there……..days and days of face washes and lotions I have found inside those bottles!  So no way was I letting Aaron throw away days and days worth of his confetti body wash!

Aaron does not have my thrifty nature.  He also does not seem to appreciate upside down bottles.  He has refused to use the body wash that has gathered in the upside down bottle.  I have persevered, though, even while he got under his sink and pulled out a full, new bottle of a different brand of body wash.  He has used this entire bottle, even while the confetti body wash has remained there, upside down and untouched.

This morning Aaron came into my bathroom and said, “Mom, I threw out those hair detergent things.  When I turned it up and squeezed, it made an air sound.”

Now notice that Aaron said he threw away those hair detergent things…….plural.  But then he referred to the air sound as coming from only one bottle.  Uh-huh.  He took the opportunity of having one empty bottle as a chance to throw both bottles away.  Who does he think he’s dealing with?  An amateur?  No way!

After I got home from taking him to his group, and had turned his fans off, I checked his bathroom trash can.  Yes, I knew it!  He had thrown away his upside down confetti body wash that still has days and days of showers left.  Now that bottle of confetti body wash is perched upside down once again in his shower.  I am not easily defeated.

Problem is, neither is Aaron.  Things could get hot around here!  Wonder if he’d let me borrow his little fan?

God is Great……..God is Good

 

Last night I enjoyed a beautiful light and sound show, thanks to our great Creator God.  Just as we were turning in for the night, a pretty significant Kansas storm was cranking up.  Aaron loves storms, and so he was getting all ready to sink into his covers and watch the lightning through his windows that he faces from his bed.  Of course, that was after he made sure that all of his covers were just right and that his clock that was flashing from a previous short power outage was reset – using my cell phone as his reference point since his portable digital clock is broken.  I hoped he was settled as I finally made my way to bed.
 
I’m sleeping in Andrea’s former room right now due to a shoulder injury that causes much tossing and turning on my part, along with pillows and grunts and groans that I feel will bother Gary.  The windows in Andrea’s room face the direction from which the storm was coming, and it’s upstairs so the open, rural view is perfect.  The blinds were staying up so that I would have a perfect, unimpeded view of the storm.  I knew exactly what I was going to do as I climbed into bed and turned the nightstand lamp off.  Worship.  And rest in God’s greatness and power on full display outside.
 
Several years ago, Gary and I were going through a particularly trying time in our lives.  I had been praying for Gary in specific ways as he faced certain stresses and frustrations that were weighing him down.  As I prayed for him, though, I didn’t really know what to pray for.  I just knew that I needed to pray for God to do a work in his life and in our lives together.  God did just that.  He answered my prayer……but not in the way that I would ever have expected, and definitely not in a way I would have wanted.   God moved in a way that caused much personal pain for both of us over a period of many months, and still continues somewhat today.  Yet through that rough time, God showed us more than we could have imagined.  He proved Himself faithful, and He caused us to grow in our walk with Him and in our relationship to each other, to our children, and to our dear family and friends. 
 
Gary and I had gone to Missouri one weekend to spend some time with Andrew at a racing event.  On that Saturday morning in our hotel room, while Gary did some studying for his Sunday School lesson, I opened my Bible randomly and looked down at Isaiah 40.  I began to read that chapter as well as the next one, and was overwhelmed with the reminder of just Who God is.  God was speaking to Israel, but the concepts of His greatness and power apply to all of us today as well.
 
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Reading about the pure power of God in creation had a profound impact on me as I sat on that hotel bed.  This God of mine holds the oceans in His hand!  Imagine that!  He measures the universe with the span of His hand!  He weighs the mountains!  He sits above the circle of the earth, and stretches out the heavens like a curtain!  He calls each star by name!  And to Him, we are like little grasshoppers; nations are like a drop in a bucket or like a speck of dust on the scales; rulers come and go at His command.  I could go on and on from these two chapters in Isaiah that spell out God’s might and our insignificance.  What really struck me was this thought:  How can I doubt God’s ability to handle my life, Gary’s life, or our children’s lives when I catch a glimpse of His unbelievable power and strength?  How can I question whether he can arrange our lives when I just read about how he arranged universes? 
 
When I pray with my eyes on my problems, then certainly I pray in my own weakness.  But when I pray with my eyes on this God of the universe, then certainly I pray in His strength.  And in that strength I can rest, knowing full well that He can absolutely do anything and everything.  When I think in my heart, “Well, I don’t know how on earth God can manage to do this thing that I’m praying about,”  then I am relying on my own power…………and I have none.  It’s good for me to return often to Isaiah 40 and 41, and to be reminded of just Whom I am praying to and relying upon. 
 
God does things that I don’t understand.  In these Isaiah verses, He also asks this question:  Who has directed or counseled or taught God?  No one has done those things!  Who could ever teach this great God?  Yet there are times that I try to take that place in this life and figure things out……make sense of situations……give God ideas of how to work, all the while wondering if He can really do those things for me. 
 
I don’t know why God made Aaron to have Epilepsy and Autism.  But I do know my wonderful God………the God that I worshipped last night as I was nearly blinded by His fantastic light show.  I know that He is sovereign and perfect, and that I can trust His plan for me and for Gary and for our Aaron.  I know that He will take care of Andrea in grad school and of Andrew in his senior year of college. 
 
God is great……..I am not.  That’s the bottom line.  God loves me and He loves my family.  These Isaiah verses also state that He does not become weary or tired; that His understanding is unsearchable; that He gives strength; that He will uphold; and that He doesn’t want me to look anxiously about me. 
 
I relished the time with Him last night, being reminded of His power with every dazzling flash of lightning and every boom of thunder.  I felt small and overwhelmed………but so protected by this all powerful God Who loves me with a fierce love.  He can do anything and everything.  He wants my time and my obedience and my trust. 
 
Everything else He can handle just fine.  

Monday!

Gary and I heard Aaron clomping down the stairs before 7:30 this morning.  Now that’s unusual!  On most weekdays I have to wake him up in order for him to have time to get ready for his group.  Soon he was clomping back up the stairs and up the hall, where he stood at our bedroom door that was locked……..because Aaron never knocks…….and he stood there saying, “Mom?  Mom?”  Gary told him that I would be out soon, so down the stairs he once again lumbered to wait on his slow mom.

I found him in the kitchen and as usual, there was no greeting when I walked in and said, “Good morning, Aaron!”   Instead he immediately launched into what is important to him……..which is him.

“Mom!  I got up at 7:12!”   He paused for me to show my certain interest in this fact, so I did………. because if I don’t then he will repeat the fact that he got up at 7:12 until I do show my interest.

It was now around 7:30 and he had waited all that time to share this news with me.  I responded, “Wow, Aaron, that’s early for you!”

And with a big sigh, he said, “Yeah.   I’m tired of this day.”

Ah, yes Aaron.  There are many of your fellow humans out there who got up way before 7:12 (me included) on this Monday and who by 7:30 are also saying, “I’m tired of this day.”

Keep your chins up, everyone!  It’s just another Monday!

Walking With Aaron

Aaron wanted us to take a walk around our circle today with Jackson, our Great Dane.  Since I am wearing a sling from an injury, I was hesitant to take our 200 pound doggie.  Besides, Jackson had already been outside with Gary, Aaron, and me – so I convinced Aaron to be happy to just take a walk with me.  And he was happy – he loves to take these walks………….and talk…………a lot, as always.  I thought you might want to join us tonight.

Aaron had already changed into his shorts and shirt that he wears to bed and was willing to put his normal clothes back on – except that they were in the washing machine already.  I told him to just come as he was since those clothes don’t really look like pajamas.  He was all about not having to change clothes again!  We set out on our walk and he immediately started talking about our neighbor’s back patio and how he’d like to go back there to look at it.

No, Aaron, you can’t go into their yard unless you’re invited.

A couple houses away found him trying to reach up and pick an acorn out of a front yard tree.  Aaron, I’ve told you not to touch any one’s trees……or bushes…….or grass…….or flowers.   Or mailboxes, Aaron – do not open their mailbox!  Here, just walk on this other side of me……….away from the trees and bushes and grass and flowers and mailboxes that don’t belong to you.

Aaron, don’t point at the pretty yellow roses.  I know you like them but don’t point.  Why?  Because people will wonder why you’re pointing at their house.

Ssshhhh, Aaron.  Don’t talk so loud.  Yes, that’s the house that had a fire last year.  “Mom, do the same kind of people live there?”

Uh, yeah Aaron……..the same people live there again.  And no, I don’t know how the fire started and yes, they still have a sign on their door and no, we are not going to go up and read the sign on their door.

We stopped and listened to the aspen trees in the field as the wind blew the leaves in that pretty little rustling way that they blow.  I like to draw Aaron’s attention to these details because they interest him…….but soon he’s on his way, looking both down at the road for something to pick up and examine, and looking around him for something else to talk about.  There’s always much of the same, and occasionally something new.

Yes, Aaron, those evergreens have funny little seed things on their tips, don’t they?  And yes, those are hedge apples in that yard.  “Mom, they look like brains!”  Yes, they do, Aaron………….and no, you cannot go in their yard to get one.

“Mom, look at that fishing boat!”   Aaron, don’t point.  “So when do they go fishing?  In the afternoon?  Isn’t it getting too cold?  Why do they have a boat in the cold?”

Aaron, quit barking at those dogs.  I know they’re barking………..they’re dogs.  You’re not.

And our neighbor was walking out to put something in her trash cans, so we stopped to talk to her.  Of course, Aaron reached over and pulled the end off of one of her tall decorative grass plants.  Aaron!  But Cheryl said it was OK, and Aaron was very pleased.  He had wanted to pull one of those for a long, long time.  Cheryl walked with us for a few minutes.  Before she left, she had heard about Paradigm, EEGs, Cellulitis, and I don’t remember what else.  Somehow she and I managed to get a few words in edgewise, as well.

I heard about the show he watched on the Sci-Fi channel earlier in the day……..about the old-time dentists and their weapons that they used to pull teeth.  Weapons?  That was probably an accurate description.  He told me about how he had a stick one day when he was out with his group and how he poked Rosie in the butt.  I told him that it was very wrong to hit anyone…………and besides, I thought he was always nice to Rosie.  “Mom, I didn’t hit Rosie.  I poked her.”   So we discussed hitting and poking and besides, you should never hit anyone there………..especially not a girl.  “But she knows I like her, Mom!”

Oh, Aaron………..who likes to poke and whack and pinch and thump on our heads…………and point and touch and pull and examine………….because he likes to do these things………..and because he does like us.  Some days more than others, and today was one of those days.

It’s fun to walk with Aaron………to listen to him talk and talk and talk…………to enter into his world.  I just have to work hard to keep him from entering everyone else’s world as we do our walking!  Stay out of that yard, Aaron!

Gotta Laugh – A Lot!

You may wonder how I remember all the comments that Aaron makes.  Well, I scribble things on post-it notes; or in a little notebook that I keep in my purse; or on my tablet; or on any piece of paper that I can quickly grab if I have nothing else and must write quickly in order to keep from forgetting.  I have quite a collection – and this is after all the blogs I’ve written.  I remove his sayings that I write about……..and you should see all the ones I still have that are waiting to be told.  Therefore, I thought that I’d just randomly tell you a few of his spur-of-the-moment remarks so that I can remove some from my list or throw away a few sticky notes……….and hopefully give you a reason to smile or maybe laugh.

Aaron’s internet was messed up some time back.  He had to wait for Gary to fix it.  Aaron’s way to explain this situation:  “Mom, my internet crashed down.”    Hope you were able to move out of the way, Aaron.

While he waited for our new grass to sprout out back:  “Mom, has any grass formed?”

He’s hot natured, but sometimes still goes to bed with tons of covers and even a sweater.  One morning I was lamenting the fact that his pillow was sweaty and he said, “Mom, my hair gets hot!”

My dad was color blind and so is Aaron.  One day he was talking about his own color blindness and said, “Mom, do you think I’ve taken over Granddaddy’s section?”

One day after a trip out to the mall with Paradigm, he was very interested in the blind man that he saw.  “Mom!  I saw this blind man and he was wearing a stick!”

The scented oil warmer in his room dried up and so Aaron asked, “Mom, can I have a good smell thing in my room?”

Today he was telling me about his friend at Paradigm.  “Mom, J’s father is handicapped.  J has to help him with things.  I didn’t go too far and ask him if he helps his dad go to the bathroom.  That would have been too far, right?”     Yes!  That would have been way too far, Aaron.

He has a friend in his day group, a girl, with whom he teases……..a lot.  I think sometimes things get a little carried away, but they don’t seem to get mad at each other.  Tonight he said, “Mom, if T calls me names……..I mean bad word names……….I say, ‘Good, I’m glad to.’ ”    Oh brother.  His response may not always be the best thing to say at all…………but I am NOT explaining that to him.  Gary can.

And finally, one of my very favorites of all time was when he told me about going up the escalator in the mall with Cody, one of his favorite staff.  I didn’t ask Cody about this story but here is Aaron’s version:   “Mom!  Cody and I were going up the escalator at the mall.  I pulled this thing and I heard alarms!”    Good grief, Aaron!  Did you really?

“Yeah, I pulled this thing.  It said something on it.”

Well, WHAT DID IT SAY??!!

He replied,  “Not to.”

HaHaHaHa!!  I can laugh because I wasn’t there.

And I hope these little snippets have made you laugh or at least smile.  And I’ve marked a few things off of my “Aaron’s comments”  list.  Thanks for reading!

Wednesday on a Tuesday?!

Aaron has a pill box that I refill every Saturday night or Sunday morning.  On Sunday I spilled part of a drink on top of his pill box when it was full, naturally.  Some of the drink got into two of the full pill sections, so I had to throw those pills out.  The inside of those sections is a mess, so I decided to just buy a new pill box the next time I’m at Wal-Mart.  In the meantime, those two sections of pills are now empty.  The order is messed up on Aaron’s pill box.  You know where I’m going with this.

This morning, Aaron came straggling into the kitchen right after he got up.  He and I sat at the table while he finished waking up, with him telling me his usual morning story about how tired he is.  I was asking about what he wanted for breakfast after he showered, and then I told him that he could go ahead and take his pills.  The Tuesday morning section is empty now, so I told him that he could just take the Wednesday morning pills……..and that I would straighten it all up as soon as I buy that new pill box.

Aaron sat there, staring down……..deep in pondering thought.  Then he softly said, “I don’t know.”  Well, I knew exactly what he didn’t know and why he didn’t know it, but I wanted to see if I could get him to bend just a little………to veer just a tad from his usual pill box order.  I set the box down in front of him, and pointed to the Wednesday morning section on this beautiful TUESDAY morning.  “See, Aaron?  You can just take the Wednesday morning pills.  They’re just the same as the TUESDAY morning pills.”

He continued to stare at the disorderly pill box.  Then he slowly shook his head, as he quietly said, “No.”

“Why not, Aaron?” I asked.

And he answered patiently for his rather slow-witted mother, “Because it’s not Wednesday.”

I know defeat when I see it.  I got the pills down and refilled the TUESDAY morning section.  “Now will you take them?”  I queried.

He brightened.  “Yes!”  he said.

What ever possessed me to think that on a TUESDAY morning Aaron could possibly take the WEDNESDAY morning pills?

Aaron is not Gumby.  He can only stretch so far in that orderly world of his.  You can’t say I didn’t try, though.  

Forgiveness

This morning did not go as I had planned.  Maybe it’s because I feel so tired.  I haven’t slept well for several nights and don’t know why.  We all do that at times.  And you know how those long nights are, when every little issue in life is magnified.  Nothing is horribly wrong, but even my to-do list seems overwhelming at one in the morning!  But all of this is an excuse, really, and I know it.

Aaron had a dental appointment this morning.  I looked forward to this being a morning of Aaron being in a compliant, happy mood because he would be looking forward to lunch and maybe a Wal-Mart trip.  Instead, I found Aaron down on my computer, looking up cheat codes for a game.  I fussed at him and he got off, but came up to my room wanting to know if I would print off some cheat codes for him.  He was carrying a large sheaf of stapled-together codes that he said a staff member at Paradigm had printed off for him.  It was very large – the number on the last sheet was 77!  And Aaron wanted me to print it off again………at least that’s what he said……….and so began the very frustrating process of trying to figure out the why and the what of Aaron’s request.

Aaron couldn’t explain to me exactly what it was he wanted me to print, even as I explained to him that I was not printing 77 pages – that he already had!  He began to escalate, and then hit my dresser with his fist as he walked out.  Thus ensued the fight – not physically, but verbally.  I was trying to understand what he wanted and at the same time calm him down, all the while feeling my tiredness and my exasperation mounting.  Soon I was yelling……..and Aaron was yelling……..and I yelled louder………and Aaron responded likewise.  It was a lose-lose situation all the way around.  I backed off and walked away, taking a few minutes to calm down and then approaching Aaron again as he headed toward my room.  We came to an agreement……….more of a stalemate……..and soon left for the dentist.  Both of us were quiet and rather depleted.  And I was feeling very guilty.

Aaron waited for me in the van as I put something in the mailbox, picked up the newspaper, and got the empty trash cans ready to roll back to the house.  I took a step or two and then saw it……….a weed growing up between a crack in our driveway.  What would have been an ugly weed, except for one thing.  Growing on that weed were such delicate little violet blooms that I had to stop in my tracks and stare down at it.  Those little blooms transformed that otherwise annoying weed into a soft spot of beauty on our driveway.  Instantly my heart was pricked.  My behavior with Aaron not an hour earlier was ugly and hateful.  I let my tiredness and my selfishness call the shots instead of letting the Holy Spirit empower me to respond to Aaron with love and kindness.

Out of my nasty behavior, I needed something soft and pretty to grow……..something that only Christ could enable to bloom.  Forgiveness.  In particular, to BE forgiven by Aaron.  I’ve read and studied a lot about forgiveness over the past few years.  In fact, I just listened to some on-line lessons last week on this very subject.  I know quite a bit about the anatomy of extending forgiveness and being forgiven.  Could I practice this today?  With my child?  With Aaron?

I know that asking for true forgiveness means naming the sin you have committed, without making excuses for your behavior, and asking to be forgiven.  As Aaron and I ate lunch, I waited for him to pause in his monologue of the moment and then I said, “Aaron, I’m very sorry that I got so angry this morning.  I’m sorry I yelled and acted hateful to you.”   Aaron looked at me, gave a little grunt, and stuffed more pizza into his mouth.  I continued, “So Aaron, will you forgive me?”  Another grunt.  And I repeated, “Will you forgive me?”  And he said, “Yeah.  Hey, did you know that I woke up at 8:33 but I stayed in bed, and then got up at 9:04?”

I chuckled.  This is as good as it will get with Aaron in the forgiveness department.  Oh, he heard me loud and clear………..and he registered every word that I said.  He may still call me weird, as he did earlier…….or maybe not.  He knows, though, that I am sorry.  He knows that I love him.  He knows that I am human……..and weird sometimes.

And I know that a little flower began to bloom in my guilt-ridden heart.  For I had also asked God to forgive me and He did more than grunt.  He has given me assurances all over His Word that He is there, waiting with open arms to forgive………..and to forget!  I can’t forget my behavior, but I pray that I will once again learn from my failure and grow in this issue of forgiveness.   Grow and bloom………beauty from ashes, God says.

Just like my little driveway weed.

What Type? What Time?

I just returned last night from a quick trip down to Fort Worth to see our daughter, Andrea, who is in her first year of grad school.  I dropped Aaron off to meet his group on Thursday morning, as usual.  I had prepared him for the fact that I was leaving for a couple of days and he was fine with that………..although I do think he was hoping that Dad was going, too, so then maybe Krysten could come over to stay with him.  That would mean pizza and movies and going out to eat………but I reminded him that Dad is fun, too, and so he was agreeable.  He was his normal talkative self on the way to Quik Trip to meet his group…..talking about the bulls in the field:  “Look, Mom!  They’re laying down!”  And the music on the CD we were listening to:  “Mom, I can tell that’s jungle music because of the jungle instruments.”  When I dropped him off, we said goodbye and then as he climbed into the van that Cody was driving, I said, “I love you, Aaron.”  And Aaron mumbled, “Bye.”  But no “I love you” in return.  I would have been shocked if he had responded any other way, though.  We may as well keep everything normal and usual.

Aaron called me the next morning in Texas.  I answered the call, knowing it was Aaron calling from home, and I greeted him warmly by saying, “Well, hi Aaron!”  And he said, “Mom, I got up at 9:11 and guess what? It’s raining!”   No hello Mom or hey Mom or hi Mom…….not from Aaron.  He launches right into the topic at hand, which is about himself and involves what is important to him at the moment, which is what time he got up and the fact that it is raining………..he loves rain!

He continued with his conversation:  “Mom, when are you coming home?”  I told him that I would be home on Saturday afternoon or evening.  “So what time will you be home?”

Aaron, I don’t know what time I”ll be home.

“Well, will it be raining when you get home?”

I don’t know that either, Aaron.

“So you’ll be home in the afternoon?”

Yes, Aaron.

“What type of afternoon will it be, then?  Will it be raining?”

I assured him that I had no idea what type of afternoon it would be.  There are some things we just can’t lay out in advance, Aaron.

His call that evening was again about the rain and what he did at the mall the day before.   “Mom, I went to Auntie Anne’s and got a #1 meal.  It’s the unsalted pretzel and a drink………”    and he continued his rundown of his day as I hoped that he wouldn’t ask again about what type of afternoon it would be when I came home on Saturday.  He didn’t.  Wow!  But he did ask again about what time I would be home the next evening, so I promised to call him on my way home and tell him.

I was a couple hours from home when I called him.  He keeps the home phone by his side whenever he can, and so when he saw my cell number he eagerly answered:  “Hey!  Mom!  Are you coming home?”  I told him that I was on my way and that I would be there around 6:30.  Finally, Aaron had a definite time!  He could begin the countdown now.

He still had much to tell me.  “Mom, I dropped the Cheddar Pasta Salad that Dad got me .  It fell in the floor, so I tried to put it in a bowl and still eat it, but Dad said no and he went and got me another one.  Why wouldn’t he let me eat it off the floor?”   I told him that he knows the answer to that question, but I answered it anyway because I knew I would have to in the long run and I may as well get it done.  And immediately after I answered the eating off the floor question, he asked, “Guess what #56 across said?”

Now we are used to following Aaron’s zig-zag, random conversations, and so I knew exactly what he meant.  He was referring to the crossword puzzle in that day’s paper, which he often reads.  He proceeded to tell me, “The #56 across said bedtime and it has 6 letters.  What would be bedtime that has 6 letters?”  So we went from eating cheddar pasta salad off the floor to the #56 across with 6 letters and then he jumped to……..  “Mom, it’s cool today!  Does that mean summer is over?”

Oh brother, here we go.  Every season, as the season nears its end, Aaron begins to ask if that season is over and when does the new season start……..especially when the temps start varying and the precipitation changes.  I’ll be so glad when Autumn really does begin and I can nail that door shut for another couple months.  Come on Friday, hurry up and get here!

Today Aaron was happy to help me make “chocolate puddin’,” as he calls it.  He was talking all the while, of course, about why we couldn’t make all four boxes instead of just one.  And about one of his friends:  “Mom, he made a stretch of his neck!”  And Aaron proceeded to show me how this friend bends and makes his neck crack.  Or about his other friend:  “Mom, she takes medicine a different way.  She has to take a needle shot!”

Gary and I took him to Dairy Queen with us tonight.  We decided to just go through the drive-through.  Aaron wanted a waffle-cone sundae, so he had to wait until we got home for him to eat it.  I placed the sundae on the kitchen table.  I put the nice red DQ plastic spoon in it, along with the nice DQ napkins right beside it…….and Aaron marched right into the kitchen, opened the silverware drawer, and walked back carrying a spoon and a fork……….yes, a FORK for a sundae.   And the whole napkin holder, as always.  I wanted to ask him why he needed a fork for an ice cream sundae, but I knew better.  He won’t answer, but he’ll always and forever have a fork with him no matter what he is eating.  And an extra spoon………..and all the napkins.  He dug in to his sundae, using the nice red DQ spoon and never touching the other spoon and the FORK………but he had to have them.

We always know what type of afternoon…….or morning…………or evening…….we’re going to have with Aaron.  Not every detail, for sure, or every up and down emotion.  But we know it will be random and full of questions and comments and observations………lots and lots of talking………lots and lots of the same stuff over and over again.  But somehow he still manages to mix it up and throw in some surprises and lots of comments that make us laugh.  Or groan.  Or roll our eyes.  Or bite our tongues.  Or grit our teeth.

You get the idea.

Quilted With Love

Some of my earliest memories of my mother revolve around her amazing skills as a seamstress.   I remember being very young and seeing Mom sitting at her sewing machine, turning out something beautiful and seemingly perfect from all sorts of fabrics.  She kept us girls busy in those early years while she sewed by giving us pieces of felt in various colors.  From this soft felt we fashioned  clothes for our little troll dolls, cutting and fitting each ugly troll as if it was a priceless and beautiful doll.  Mom provided glitter and sequins and odd buttons for us to glue onto our awkward handiwork.  We stayed busy for hours laboring over our important creations.  I don’t remember all the mess we must have made, but I do remember laboring over our little troll dolls while Mom labored over her more important sewing jobs.   Mom made small, meticulous Barbie doll ensembles which she sold in a local craft store, and also made some for us to keep.  Yet her most loving works of art were the countless pieces of clothing she made for her girls to wear.
 
Every Easter we had new Easter dresses.  I especially remember the Easter that she made all of us girls pink gingham dresses – and then made one for herself, as well.  I thought it was wonderful to not only match my sisters, but to also be dressed like my mother!   I remember the trips to Penny’s in Bluefield, the bigger town that was near our hometown of Princeton.  I loved the escalator ride down to the bottom floor, where we would choose patterns and fabrics and buttons for our new clothes.  Never did we go to the ready-made clothes upstairs or enter a dressing room.  Our clothing was there amongst the bolts of fabric, waiting to be matched to patterns and later sewn into pretty dresses and jackets and blouses.  I do believe that I took the longest to select the fabric to match the patterns as I had such a difficult time seeing the finished product in my head.  I would stand there, rubbing the fabric between my fingers, trying to visualize a finished product that somehow wasn’t materializing in my mind.  I can imagine Mom’s frustration as I lingered there trying to make this important decision………..as well as the rolling eyes of my sisters who had finished this process long before I did.
 
Mom worked full-time after we were all in school, yet still managed to sew all of our clothes.  She was a natural at this art, yes, but it still took lots of time.  She would sew late into the night, her dedication undeterred by her tiredness.  I never gave enough thought to how tiring this effort must have been to her until I had children of my own.  How did she do it all?  I have no idea, really, but she did.  Her work was not only beautiful with matching plaids and perfect zippers and flawless fit, but each stitch was filled with a love that wasn’t recognized by us until years later. 
 
One of my most special memories was of the year when we were teenagers, and Mom made us skirts for Christmas.  I don’t know how many skirts she made, but there were quite a few.  Then she not only began looking for matching sweaters to wear with each skirt, but matching knee socks as well.  She did not give up this quest for the correct colors of sweaters and socks until each skirt had what it needed to make it a perfect ensemble.  We learned about this later, from Dad, who accompanied her on many of these trips.
 
Dad, who was color blind and absolutely no help when it came to matching colors of anything, would patiently take Mom on many of these shopping trips.  I can still see him standing silently on the sidelines in the fabric stores, hands behind his back and a sweet smile on his face.  He never rushed Mom or any of us, but stood there until we had come to the point of methodically selecting every button and every spool of thread.  I can still hear him say, “Did you know that there are 53 light bulbs in this ceiling?”  Or, “Did you know that there are 271 zippers in that display?”  Dear, sweet Dad!
 
John and Jeanie’s Quilt

When Mom and Dad both retired, Mom only continued her sewing.  She had sewn for her children, for grandchildren, for friends, for the Crisis Pregnancy Center, and who knows what else.  Upon retirement, she decided to take up quilting.  Of course, she was a natural at this skill.  She practiced by making her and Dad a lovely quilt, and then took up the goal of making each of us five children and spouses a quilt.  These gorgeous works of art were each sewn entirely by hand with no sewing machine used.  She had us each pick our pattern and our colors – there I went again, having to make this difficult visual choice!  Mom never wasted a minute in any day, and before long she was completing our individual, personal, 
gorgeous quilts.  Dad took her to countless stores and quilt shops, patiently waiting over and over again as she selected just the right fabrics.  Each stitch was a labor of love……….each completed quilt a perfect picture of her devotion to her children.  I keep my quilt hanging in our kitchen area so that we can see it every day and enjoy its beauty, and bask in the warm memories that it evokes. 

 
Mom made many, many quilts during the next few years.  She made quilts for missionaries; she made a special quilt for a dear friend who had no mother of her own to make her one; she made a quilt for the Prophet’s Chamber at church where missionaries 
stayed when visiting; and she made a memory quilt that has special fabrics and mementos from each of us children and our children.
 
 
Bob and Jan’s Quilt
Jimmy and Kathryn’s Quilt

Mom has Alzheimer’s now and lives in an assisted living center.  Tomorrow she will celebrate her 86th birthday.  Dad knew that Mom was showing distressing signs of forgetfulness before he passed away nearly four years ago, and he worried so about her.  He would be happy with her living arrangement now and with how well cared for she is.  She doesn’t sew at all now.  She’s even forgotten how to put her jigsaw puzzles together that she loved so much.  Sometimes she doesn’t remember all of our names, and definitely not the names of all the grandchildren and great-grands.   But she is sweet and she is happy and she still seeks to serve others.

 

Bob and Mary Beth’s Quilt
Gary and Patty’s Quilt

And just as our keepsake quilts will always be an heirloom to pass down to our children, even more so are the pieces of our lives that she shaped and fashioned together with her tireless love and effort.  She took care of us, providing the atmosphere of a happy and warm home to treasure as she sewed and cooked and played and laughed.  She made sure that we had family devotions every morning before school because Dad was at work and so it was up to her.  She took us to church when Dad was working late, and didn’t just drop us off – she was there, too, worshipping and serving.  She  showed us how to love and how to work and how to pray and how to laugh and how to persevere through hard times.  She exemplified great care in 

how she took care of her mother for 14 years, as well as her mother-in-law for part of that time.  And she loved Dad, totally.  She never left his side, especially for the eight years that he fought cancer.  Even when they no longer could share their bed they had slept in together for 59 years, she slept right beside his hospital bed, her arm and hand resting on him between the bed rails. 

These traits of our mother are the stitches that are sewn into our very being.  The pieces of our lives were begun by her, thought-out and cut, measured and pieced, day by day.  As the years marched on, the shapes of our lives began to unfold.  The beauty of the various patterns began to be seen.  These are the treasures that are eternal.  These are the heirlooms that have more value than any quilt will ever possess.  And while our mother may not remember much anymore about the details of the past or the present, we have the evidence in our lives of her love and her faith…………a beautiful quilt of a life well lived.