Today Aaron and I went to one of his yearly meetings to update paperwork that the state requires as part of the services he receives. Last week the meeting was at Paradigm, his day service provider. It’s interesting to go there and to see some of Aaron’s friends. Some want to hug me, some want to shake my hand, and some want to talk to me. They are all so varied and interesting………some with sad stories, I’m sure………..some with strong, loving families and some not so blessed. The staff there is amazing – full of love and understanding and so much patience. I’m forever grateful for them. As I was leaving, one of the young clients walked me to the door and he said, “Mrs. Moore, Aaron looks just like you.” And then he quickly added, “I don’t mean that in a bad way!” HaHaHa! I’m not sure if he meant it would be bad for me or for Aaron, but I didn’t ask!
Today our second meeting was just with his case manager and with Barb, who works at Paradigm and whom Aaron loves. On our way to Applebees for lunch, we stopped at Great Clips to see if they could give Aaron a haircut. Sure enough, it was nearly empty and so Aaron got right in – taking off his glasses and then for some reason his ring, as he always does, for me to hold while he got his hair cut. The girl who cut his hair has seen Aaron before and is very kind, so she chatted happily with him as she cut his hair and engaged him in a great way. Aaron loves the attention, and the feel of the clippers relaxes him………..so much so that we were wondering if he was going to fall out of the chair as he leaned farther and farther over. I called to him and then the stylist laughed, and Aaron straightened up………for a minute………and forward he went again. He perked up when she asked him if he wanted gel. He loves getting the green gel in his hair, although with a buzz cut he totally doesn’t need it………but he feels special and that’s always fun, for any of us……….and definitely for Aaron. Plus it sure helps him smell good!
We were still early for Applebees, so I told Aaron that I wanted to run into Lowes to look at valences. He trotted behind me, talking all the way, of course. As I looked at the curtains, Aaron saw the clocks…………and we know how he loves clocks. “Mom, you know those big clocks that make that loud noise?”
Yes, Aaron – Grandfather clocks. “Yeah! Is that why they’re annoying? Because they’re Grandfather clocks?” I have no idea why he thinks they would be annoying because they’re grandfather clocks – both of Aaron’s grandfathers were sweet men. Must be a movie he watched that had grouchy grandfathers. He couldn’t explain it, either.
He was very interested in the grills lined up outside as we left. One day after a trip to Lowes with Gary, Aaron came home talking about the round grills……..which he called “bowl grills.” Today he lifted the lid on a large grill and saw the two racks. “Look, Mom! That grill cooks double!” And then he spied the smoker/grill with the little stovepipe chimney. “Mom! There’s a pipe oven!!” Of course, we had to examine the “pipe oven” and I tried to explain the purpose of a smoker………but Aaron was just focused on the little pipe chimney.
On our way over to Applebees, a truck passed us that was carrying a ramp with holes in it. “Mom, that reminds me of those big trucks that have holes in them that carry animals.” I told him that yes, they carry cattle or other animals. I asked, “Aaron, have you smelled the cattle trucks? What do they smell like?” First he told me, “They smell dumb!” And then he added, “They have too heavy a smell!” Oh, yes, they do indeed!
Our meeting at Applebees went well, mostly because there was food involved. For some reason, Aaron wants to pinch or poke his case manager – so I was happy that he sat across the booth from her. He still managed to kick her, though. Oh, Aaron! He feels nervous at these meetings, thinking that she’s going to tell him he has to leave Paradigm, so this is his way of showing his fear. And of embarrassing his mother.
Aaron ordered Spinach/Artichoke dip with chips, which surprised me………and a house salad, which did not surprise me. He got his salad before any of us got our food, and he promptly started putting the croutons on the table. I stopped him, and he waited until I got my salad……….and I inherited the unwanted croutons. Aaron wanted to know what the black stuff was in his dip………..that would be spinach, Aaron. He dipped each chip very gingerly in the dip, then shook and shook the chip, and took a little bite. Most of the dip was uneaten, of course, leaving me wondering why on earth he ordered such a thing. He talked and talked and talked some more during our meeting, loving the audience and the chance to tell whatever came to his mind. Somehow as we left, his case manager said this was her favorite meeting. Was it the food or was it Aaron? I didn’t ask.
Aaron thumped downstairs just now to tell Gary and me about the rest of his day. Brandy, the owner of Paradigm, has two sons. One is Dirk, who is probably 6 years old now, and the other older son’s name escapes our memory. Aaron excitedly said, “Mom, guess what Brandy brought to Paradigm today?!” He paused for me to answer, so I replied, “What did Brandy bring to Paradigm today?” And Aaron answered, with a huge smile, “A little girl!”
Since when is a little girl a “what” and not a “who?” Anyway, Aaron was very interested in the fact that Brandy, who has two sons, now has a little girl………..and he wouldn’t hear any of my comments about the fact that she was probably a niece or whatever. To Aaron, Brandy has a little girl. Then Aaron said, “I haven’t seen Brandy’s boys in a long time. Remember? Dirk and Jerk?”
JERK? OK, I had to laugh…………and so did Aaron………….and so did Gary. We can’t remember the older son’s name, but I am quite sure it’s not Jerk…………even though Dirk and Jerk do have a certain ring to them.
Aaron thumped back upstairs, quite pleased with his little funny saying and with our laughter…….and repeatedly assured that yes, Aaron, I WILL come get you IF I can play Skip-Bo. And so almost ends another day with Aaron. I am very thankful for the good people that God has put into our lives………..the ones who cut Aaron’s hair, take his restaurant orders with a smile, work out his yearly plans despite being kicked, love him so patiently at Paradigm, and give him ideas of funny names.
And I’m thankful that God gave us Aaron. The future may be uncertain as we make his yearly plans. The winds of change are blowing in the state services that we receive. Those winds may blow our way and leave us with “too heavy a smell.” We don’t know what all the changes mean for Aaron and for us. But God never changes and He loves Aaron more than we do.
And that ‘s more comforting than anything else in this old smelly world!