Do You Want to See My Bruise?!

Last Friday morning, Aaron and I headed to the lab where he gets his blood work done.  His levels need to be checked since his unexpected seizure that I wrote about in my last blog……..the seizure that made him fall backwards and sustain a nasty bruise on his upper back.  Aaron loves going to the lab and for that I am very thankful.  He doesn’t mind needles……he never has…….and this is indeed a huge blessing.  It would be heart-rending to see him fearful of a procedure that he needs so often. 

Aaron loves time in the van with me or with Gary in his truck.  We are captive audiences, after all, and have no choice but to listen to his constant talking in the midst of whatever favorite CD he has chosen.  As we passed Walgreen’s, Aaron saw the sign that asked the question:  Have You Had A Flu Shot?  Of course, Aaron felt compelled to answer this question because naturally every question deserves an answer in Aaron’s mind.  And his answer must be shared with whomever is willing to listen.
 
“Mom, that sign talked about a flu shot.  Have I had a flu?”

Well, Aaron, you don’t have “a flu” like you have a cold.

“So what is a flu?”  he asked.

I explained what THE flu is and why it’s different from having A cold………..and realized that only with Aaron would I even notice this distinction.  It makes sense.  Why do we say THE flu and A cold?  Oh my………I’m thinking like Aaron again!

I was rather proud of my explanation as we drove along, and then when I finished and hoped that Aaron would appreciate me for clearing up this confusion about THE flu and A cold – he said, “If I go to Burger King again, can I have a number 2?”

I was immediately jerked from Walgreen’s to Burger King with the blink of an eye!  I’ve learned to follow Aaron as he transports quickly from topic to topic, but I still smile at the randomness of his topics.  He was still relishing his special Burger King supper with Dad the night of his seizure.  Gary was concerned that night because Aaron was confused about how to use the drink machine, an art that Aaron has perfected for sure.  His confusion was alarming to Gary.  Sometimes seizures have that effect and we wonder about long term issues.

Anyway, I laughed as I heard Aaron’s question and realized that he assumed……….as always…………that I would know immediately what a Burger King number 2 meal contained………..as opposed to a Wendy’s meal number 2 or a McDonald’s meal number 2.  Of course, Aaron has recorded this info in his brain.  Hasn’t everybody??!! 

He continued, “Do you want a number 2?”  I asked him to remind me of what a Burger King meal number 2 contained before I committed.  This kept Aaron busily talking until we arrived at the clinic, parked, and began walking toward the door.  Aaron had chosen another favorite topic of late of which to chatter……Neil Armstrong.  Does Neil Armstrong have anything at all remotely to do with a Burger King meal number 2?  Of course not!!   

“Mom, I was reading about Neil Armstrong on the moon.  Did you know that when he walked on the moon he said something?”

Yes, Aaron, I knew that.

“Did you know that they didn’t put an ‘A’ in what he said?  He really said………..”

And as we checked in to the lab and sat down, Aaron continued to inform me of what Neil Armstrong had really said and why it was so significant that “they” had left out the ‘A’ in what Neil Armstrong said………….and he continued in this vein (pardon the pun) until someone walked into the waiting room that I know.

Aaron perked up as I spoke to this woman whom I know.  Ah, fresh ears!  If Mom is going to talk with familiarity to this woman, then surely Aaron can, too!  So at the first opportunity, as I told her why we were at the lab, Aaron expounded on his seizure occurrence…………and anything else that popped into his ever active mind.

I was called to the check-in desk to answer some questions, so as my back was turned and I answered the questions, Aaron had decided that this friend with the listening ears would surely want to see something special.  As I turned around to walk back to my seat, there stood Aaron in the middle of the waiting room.  He was preparing to lift up his shirt and show this kind, unsuspecting woman his prize bruise.
 
Now Aaron has done this before………….lifting his shirt to show someone his VNS surgery scar on his upper chest.  He does this very quickly, before we can react, and the effect is amazing.  We have never received any one’s therapy bill after this event, so that’s a comfort, but still I know that seeing Aaron’s full stomach and chest without warning can be rather shocking.  And here he was, in the middle of a waiting room with other people around, preparing to lift his shirt and show my friend his bruise.

In my mind I was yelling, “NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!”  but in reality I hurried over and gently told Aaron no…………do not lift your shirt to show your bruise.  He thought that this was indeed a waste of a perfect opportunity while I thought that I was a very blessed mother for being able to turn around when I did and avert this shock to an entire waiting room full of wide-eyed, puzzled patients. 

The fake farting noise that Aaron made later as we exited the building……….and that echoed down the hall……..was mild in comparison to the near-exposure that we had endured in the waiting room.  We were, after all, walking away and leaving it all behind (pardon another pun).

Dear Aaron – you have no idea of the effect you have on people.  I will be very relieved when I can tell you that your bruise is gone and can no longer be seen………by ANYONE!!!  

The Personal Gift of Aaron

We were talking at supper last night, as we watched Aaron stuff pizza in his mouth, about how quickly Christmas zoomed by this year.  It’s like a big meal that takes hours of planning and prep, and then is over in a few minutes.  We had a great time having Sandra, Gary’s sister, here for her fifth year in a row.  We love having her come…………we’re surprised that she keeps coming!  Not really, but we laugh at all the mayhem that sometimes ensues at Christmas with the shopping and the cooking and the wrapping and the everything else.  Plus this year we had Darcy,  Andrea’s little dog, thrown in the mix along with our Great Dane, Jackson.  And Aaron…….always our Aaron……with his many facets that either delight or depress or demand.
 
Aaron was still trying to figure out Christmas carols as our holiday preparations were gearing up and I had Christmas music playing all day long.  Literal Aaron thinks that some of the words to our carols are quite ridiculous.  We were playing Skip-Bo one night and I had Pandora cranked up to a favorite Christmas station when he heard The Christmas Song.  When the phrase “……to kids from 1 to 92….” was sung, I heard Aaron go, “Hmpfff!!”  And I prepared myself for either laughter or rolling of my eyes as I awaited his comment.

“People at 92 years old aren’t kids, right?!”  I began to explain what that phrase meant when he continued with his commentary on this ridiculous song – “I think they’re warning people who are at the age of 92.”   ” Warning of what?” I asked.  But he really couldn’t explain what he thought and he certainly wasn’t getting my reasonable explanation, so finally he just admitted that he really didn’t get it, even as he repeated what he so often says about our weird world………..”That’s DUMB!”

He enjoyed “Ding Dong Merrily on High” more, though, because at least he thought it was rather funny.  “That ding dong song sounds like an alarm clock!”  he blurted as he laughed at yet another silly Christmas song.  I laughed, too, as I looked once again at our mixed-up world through Aaron’s eyes.

Aaron’s Aunt Sandra makes beautiful scarves.  She brought some for Andrea and I to have.  Aaron saw them on my desk the next morning and walked down the hall, carrying the pile of scarves.  “Mom!  Did you build these for me?” he hopefully asked.  I assured him that I did not build them, but that Aunt Sandra had made them for me.  He was disappointed………such interesting, curly scarves would have been fun for him to own, he thought.  “Are they like the Hawaiian women wear and then they dance?”  he asked with even more hope.  And again I assured him that they were not Hawaiian scarves and that I definitely would not be dancing a Hawaiian dance when I put on a curly scarf.  He laughed at this funny thought.

Aaron did very well with going to his day group when Sandra first arrived.  He often wants to stay home because she is here, but this year he was more controlled and willing to go.  Having pizza one day with his friends at Paradigm was a great pay-off.  He excitedly told me about it when he barged in the door that afternoon.  “Mom!  We had pizza!!  First I had one piece and then I had four!  They wouldn’t let me have a fifth.”  I reminded him that no person, especially him, needs five pieces of pizza.  And he is further convinced that our world is indeed without any understanding.

The next day we had a little snow and I knew that Aaron would not like this.  He doesn’t want to get out in the snow, often acting like an old man who can’t bear the thought of the cold and the mess.  Sure enough, I heard him knock on my bedroom door as I got ready and then heard his low, depressed, monotone voice as he said, “I do not want to leave this warm house.”  He was very flat………very resigned……..very certain about this fact.  I dressed and then went out in the hall, where I found his door closed.  I opened his door and found Aaron in his bed, all covered in his warm blankets……….but smiling as I patted his shoulder.  His smile showed me that he was finding this all to be funny and I was relieved that we were not going to have a small war over this issue of the messy, cold snow. 

He did go to Paradigm that day, happily, and later in the week he ended the season there with a Christmas party.  He came home very animated as he held up his Wal-Mart gift card and his stocking with his name on it………..and which he decided that he wanted to give to visiting Darcy, who didn’t have her own doggie stocking.  He liked the food, too, especially noting some fascinating cookies – “Mom, we had cookies that had whiteness on them!”

Christmas Eve was, well, interesting.  Aaron was very happy about the bustle and activity of the day.  He came down from his room from time to time to talk, of course, or to play with Darcy or Jackson.  He was very intrigued by Darcy’s dog toy.  “Mom!  Darcy’s dog toy has warts!”  And he was also fascinated by the Polish sausage that I was putting in my spaghetti sauce.  “Mom, are you putting that bent hot dog in the spaghetti?!”


Andrea was not home during the day, as she was visiting her friend James and his family on their farm near Salina.  Aaron asked where she was and he did not like the fact that Andrea was not at home……….and he definitely did not like it when I told him that James would be joining us for supper and for the evening of games and fun.  It was hard to tell why he reacted so strongly, but I believe he feels an ownership of Andrea.  He sees her as a mother figure who is there for him when she is home.  James was an intruder who took Andrea away from him……..a stranger who was going to make life uncomfortable for Aaron during our special evening.

Sure enough, Aaron was less than enthusiastic to meet James.  During dinner, as we talked and laughed, Aaron kept muttering comments to me about this situation.  Thankfully, Aaron didn’t have a full blow-up about James, but he was certainly not happy with this turn of events.  It would be so helpful if Aaron could just express his feelings verbally…….but he usually can’t do that, at least not right away.  So we tensely muddled through the moment, hoping that Aaron was not too terribly embarrassing to us or to our guest.  And what a blessing that Andrea is very understanding of Aaron, and was able to smile and put us all at ease.   

Later we played Christmas Bingo, and once again Aaron was very unpleasant.  He doesn’t like parties, as he sees the laughter and the silliness that may ensue as being abnormal.  Yet he wanted to join us, even as he sat there making comments about how Gary called out the Bingo moves and being very rude when we tried to calm or correct him.  We were honestly relieved when Aaron went back up to his room and we could continue the evening without worrying about Aaron telling us all very ungraciously about how weird we were and that we needed to shut up!

Christmas day found Aaron a little unnerved because we decided to open gifts in the living room instead of the family room.  Change!!  And change does not go over well with Aaron!  The family picture in front of the Christmas tree was an exercise in futility for us, as Aaron did not want his picture made when it was just time to get on with the gift opening.  And opening gifts, for Aaron, involves a process.  He must have his little Swiss Army knife for cutting the paper; and he must open each DVD or PC game right away with his knife;  and he must put the DVD wrappings and tape in his trash can from his room that he has sitting right beside him.  He shows very little emotion as he continues his mission of opening his presents from beginning to end……….and then it is over and he must move on to the next day’s event.

The day after Christmas, Aaron was up and about as usual.  He drank his coffee and he took his pills and he talked a lot as always.  He was upstairs talking to Andrea, as normal as ever, and then walked down the stairs………..and we heard an awful crash.  Aaron was having a seizure.  He had fallen backwards at the foot of the stairs and was laying there on the hard floor, seizing.  It was terrible and was very frightening to all of us.  Aaron’s seizures have been in his sleep for years now, so this breakthrough seizure was very surprising.  He finally stopped and Gary placed a pillow under his head as I covered him with a blanket.  Aaron is too big for us to move, so he slept there for awhile as he recovered from this episode.  We checked him for blood and we worried about a concussion, but later when he was able to be helped to his bed we felt that he was all right. 

He has an ugly bruise and some scrapes on his upper back from hitting a piece of furniture when he fell.   We are very thankful that there was no major injury to him from such a hard fall.  I’ll be taking him to the lab for some blood work to check his levels.  Keith, Aaron’s nurse practitioner, told us not to be alarmed at this seizure and not to assume that these will continue.  We hope this is true.  This episode has made us face an element of fear that we haven’t had for a long time.  It makes us realize how serious seizures are and it jerks us back to the reality of how fragile Aaron’s health is.  How fragile, and how very dangerous and serious.
   
And our love for Aaron was confirmed as we struggled emotionally, watching him lay on that cold, hard floor both during and after his seizure.  He yanks us around a lot…….one minute we are laughing because of Aaron and the next minute we are so frustrated with his behavior.  The frustrations melt away when we see him so vulnerable. We know that life for Aaron will never be normal or easy.  Life for Gary and I will never be normal or easy.  But it’s the life that God has chosen for all of us……….for Aaron, for Gary, for me, and for Andrea and Andrew.  I pray that we will trust God as we travel this road, and that we will bring glory to God as He enables us to move forward.
 
Christmas is a season of light and of hope.  Aaron points us to that light and hope in ways of which he is totally unaware.  Whether through our joyful laughter or through our gritted teeth, Aaron does have his ways of pulling us back to Him on which our dependence lays.  And I believe that Aaron will receive a great reward for fulfilling that purpose of his life. 

 Christmas is also a season of gifts………..and Aaron is our gift, one which we continue to unwrap and try to understand every day.  He comes with a no-return policy and on some days, that’s a very good thing!  On Christmas Eve, I told Aaron not to come in the bedroom where I was stuffing the stockings.  He replied, “So you said you were doing my personal present?”  He was sweet and hopeful. 

God has given us a personal present in the gift of Aaron.  Even on the hard days, we are especially blessed. 

We love you, Aaron!

Please Say Mistletoe is Fake!

It’s the Christmas season………..the time of lights and joy and warmth and presents……..and Aaron trying to figure out Christmas carols.  In Aaron’s  literal world and in his world of showing minimal emotion, Christmas songs seen through his eyes can be very interesting.

Comments from Aaron can range from the style of singing:  “Hmmpf!  Why is she singing like opera?” ……..to all the unfettered emotion of a particular song:  “Hmmpf!  Why did he say that?  That was dumb!” 

For instance, there is the strange subject of mistletoe.  We heard a Christmas song one day in the van and the benefits of standing under the mistletoe were being gleefully proclaimed.  Aaron does not share this glee.  To Aaron, mistletoe is weird and kissing is positively unthinkable.  As the song progressed, Aaron blurted, “Oh brother!!  They’re talking about love again!!”

I chuckled and just remained quiet.  Aaron did not.  “Is that thing about mistletoe true?”   So I tried to explain mistletoe to Aaron, briefly. 

He responded, “I thought it was a religion or a myth or fake!”

I am sure that he hoped beyond all hope that it was fake.  I offered to hang us some mistletoe at our house but he was not at all in favor of that idea. 

Of course, he’s on the Christmas countdown.  He will be talking to me and then as he walks away he will blandly update me by saying, “It’s 19 days til Christmas.”  Yesterday as we listened to the 12 Days of Christmas song,  he had some commentary on how silly that song is.  He continued his conversation with Gary at supper.
“Dad, there was that song about the first day of Christmas.  Then they made it to the end of it at 12! “

Gary assured him that he knew that song as Aaron continued, “So what’s the point of it?  Is it so we can count?”  And before Gary could really begin to straighten this out, Aaron said, “And who would know how to wear five rings?  No one needs five rings!!!” 

I had earlier tried to tell him that it was based on other cultures who celebrate Christmas for 12 days.  Not remembering which culture does that, as I racked my brain for this piece of trivia, I said that it might be Russian culture……..to which Aaron replied, “Russian TORTURE?!” 

Torture might actually be an apt description for how some of these familiar songs affect Aaron.  We just sing along happily while Aaron is over there dissecting each song and trying to figure out the meaning to these crazy phrases………….and vowing to avoid mistletoe! 

Relax, Aaron!  And Merry Christmas!
 
I’ll get back to you on that thing about the partridge in a pear tree. 

What Dad Taught Me in Death

I’ve heard it said that our parents are the most important teachers that we will ever have.  I would agree with that statement, for as we grow we are constantly watching our parents……..listening and absorbing and learning through their words and deeds.  Hopefully the lessons learned are good ones.  My parents were very beneficial in my life in more ways than I can count.  Yet some of the lessons that I treasure the most are the lessons I learned as I watched my dad live the last month of his life on earth.  What were some of those lessons?

1.  Know When to Ask For Help

Dad was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2000, and with liver cancer in 2004.   In September of 2008, dad was put into Hospice care.  We knew that no more could be done for him medically, so as he declined I told him and Mom to let me know when they wanted me to come and help them.  I got that call on November 2, and in a few days I was on a plane headed home.  I was fearful of what I would find and how I would handle all the emotion of what was ahead, but I was very thankful that I had the opportunity to go and help my dear parents.

2.  Don’t Stop Thinking of Others

Dad had always been very kind and sweet to others, and loved reaching out to help people.  This continued even as he deteriorated.  I quickly learned that the real reason he had wanted me to come was that he was  worried about Mom.  He knew that she was physically more frail than she had ever been………..emotionally drained………and that she was showing signs of progressing dementia.  He was more concerned about me helping her than of me assisting him.  In fact, when I first arrived he resisted my help in several ways.  I understood this about him……his independence and his desire to maintain his privacy.   She was his first concern, even though he knew he was losing his fight to live.

 Later, when he finally allowed Jan and I to assist with his toileting needs, I found him crying one day as he sat in his wheelchair.  I knelt down and asked him what was wrong.  Through his tears, he told me that he was sorry to have to make us help him in that way.  I was so amazed at him…….at his selflessness and his kindness.  I assumed he was crying from embarrassment, but his tears were not for him…….they were for us.  He told me that he was sorry that he had to make us do this……..sorry for any embarrassment that we might be feeling, but not feeling sorry for himself.  I have never seen such love and concern as I saw in him at that precious moment. 

3.  Keep Your Routine

For as long as he could, Dad continued to get up early in the morning and to stay up as long as he could.  He needed help but he did not want to lay in bed all day.  He wanted to eat at the kitchen table, sitting there in his wheelchair and eating oh so slowly, often with his head bowed and his eyes closing.  Mom and I would speak to him, and he would perk up, slowly raising his head.  He would manage another few bites and some soft, slow conversation before slowly nodding off again.  Yet he was determined to keep going and to keep his schedule for as long as he could.
 
He also wanted to read the mail and the newspaper every day even though his eyesight was failing.  It was hard to see him struggling to read but he was not to be deterred.  He finally had Mom make an appointment with his eye doctor, even as we knew that this doctor visit would be impossible.  We didn’t tell him that, though…….we wouldn’t take away that hope that he had.

We would watch Little House on the Prairie videos at night.  Dad wanted to still be in charge of the remote – just like a man!  He would slowly push the volume button but he had a hard time controlling his movements, so the volume would shoot up sky high.  As he tried to correct it, the volume would go to mute.  He was frustrated but finally relinquished the remote to me and Mom. 
4.  Pay Attention to Details

When I first got to their home, Dad was managing to walk with his walker.   He was very, very slow…….walking with me by his side, ready to steady him when he faltered or wobbled.  Dad was always very meticulous about things and this trait continued.  He wanted his sweater on and liked it when the sweater matched his pajamas.  As he would slowly walk from room to room, he would sometimes stop and just stare down at the floor or the carpet.  Then he would ask what that spot was on the carpet, and as I looked down, sure enough I would see a bit of a leaf or a string.  I would laugh as I bent over and picked it up, and Dad would smile as I teased him about being so picky.  Yet those small details were still very important to him.  

5.  Mind Your Manners

Dad was always polite and proper, never crude or inappropriate.  I guess that’s one reason why the five of us children enjoyed teasing him.  He was great fun but he did have boundaries.  One morning as we ate breakfast, Mom……….well………..she had some gas.  She laughed and said,  “I farted!”   Dad very slowly raised his head, looked at her, and softly said,  “Passed……..gas.”   Mom and I cracked up, and Dad gently smiled – satisfied at his correction and realizing the humor of it.

He was always careful to say thank you when any of us helped him in any way.  Close to the end, after I had gone back to Kansas, Jan was rubbing his back and very quietly he said to her, “Do…..not…..do…..that.   Please.”   He didn’t let his situation rob him of his manners.

6.  Keep a Sense of Humor

Dad loved to laugh and smile.  He was a delight as he loved to tease in a kind way, and also was often the willing recipient of much good-natured ribbing from all of us.  Shortly after my arrival, we had to get him a hospital bed.  He was not happy about this and was especially unhappy about having the bed rail put up at night.  We had to insist, though, and he finally resigned himself to this fact.  One night as I raised the rail, he told me, “Don’t put that rail up.  I’ll remember you in the hereafter!”  And then when I walked in his room to help him out of bed in the mornings, he would greet me by calling me his prison guard or the great emancipator or other funny names having to do with my control over his freedom. 

One day he jokingly said, “I’m sorry for every mean thing I’ve ever said about you.  I have to stay on your good side!”  And when we bought him silly pajama pants he went along with the fun.  One day when Jan and I teasingly asked him which of us was his favorite, he immediately looked straight at his hospice nurse, Amy.  Every day there was humor from this wonderful man, even as he was suffering.

7.  Show Love

Mom and Dad were very close, especially after they both retired.  They were hardly ever apart.  When Dad had to start using the hospital bed, it was the first time in nearly 60 years of marriage that they had slept in separate beds.  We pushed his bed very close to their bed, and at night Mom would lay there with her hand between the rails of Dad’s bed.  They held hands or she would rest her hand on his arm…….still together and still close despite this circumstance. 

There were times that I would be holding Dad up as he stood, and there would be a pause.  I would turn to look and find that he had put his frail, skinny arm around Mom’s shoulders and was pulling her close to him.  I felt like an intruder to this moment of intimacy, and the tears would spill down my cheeks as they embraced.
 
In the midst of these days, there were times of stress.  One day Mom and Dad were facing one of those frustrating moments.  I waited in the living room until it was time for me to help him to the couch.  I sat there and laid my head on his shoulder, telling him I was sorry for how hard it was at that moment.  He smiled his sweet smile, very slowly raised his head, and said, “Smooth………it………over.”   I’ll never forget those wise words. 

8.  Always Pray

Dad continued to pray for as long as he could.  His walk with the Lord all of his life was of primary importance to him, and that never diminished even as he was weak and full of pain.  One of my dearest memories of my time there was of his quiet, halting prayers before meals.  He continued to lead us in prayer for as long as he was able.  He rarely asked anything for himself, but thanked the Lord and then made requests for others.  When my niece, Ruth, had a tumor removed from her spine, Dad was heart broken for her.  He would always pray for Ruth, sometimes with tears.  Always thinking of others………..that was my Dad.

9.  Be Ready to Go 

Dad was afraid to die.  This fact puzzled me at times, although I do understand.  It’s just that Dad had such a close walk with the Lord and I was surprised at his fear.  However, as we talked I realized that he was afraid of leaving Mom…….both for her sake and for his………both of them without the other for the first time ever.  He was looking forward to seeing Jesus, but wondering what he would say to his Savior.  Dad liked having everything thought out and orderly, and this dying process was anything but orderly and known. 

Finally one night, John spent some time talking alone with Dad…….assuring him of things about heaven and answering his questions.  This comforted Dad greatly, and later that night Dad shared these things with Mom and me.   Our hospice nurse had told us that often a person needs to be released to die, so that night through our tears we told Dad that it was all right for him to go on to heaven……….that we would be fine and most important, Mom would be well taken care of.


A few days after that conversation, on Dec. 4, I tucked Dad into his bed at night.  I adjusted his oxygen and did  all the other things I had done so many times over that past month as I got him settled.  But this time was different.  I was leaving early the next morning to fly back to Kansas and to my family.  Dad knew it was time for me to go, but I think he was afraid.  Jan and John would be there, but I had been with him full-time for a month and he had come to depend on that.
 
As I leaned down to tell him good night, the tears fell.  I kissed him, and then he asked me if I would come back after Christmas.  I assured him that I would, even as I knew that it was unlikely he would be there at Christmas.  One of the hardest things I’ve ever done was to kiss him that last time and walk out of his room.  I went home to Kansas the next day, and Dad went home to heaven five days later.  Oh, we miss him! 

But I am ever so thankful for that month with him and with Mom, and for so many special memories shared and lessons learned.  What a hope we all have, too, as we know that we’ll all be together in heaven one day.  I didn’t get to see Dad again as I assured him I would, but I do have the assurance that I WILL see him again………..for eternity.
 
And I want to thank him for all that he taught me in life, but especially for what he taught me in death.
            

The Keyboard and The Cold

Today is Monday, and I am fairly certain that I know how this day is going to go.  It has nothing to do with my plans for the day, which include a hair appointment and the exterminator making his two-month visit and a way too long to-do list.  It has everything to do with the fact that Aaron has a cold and is staying home today, which makes him very happy.  But there is one thing that would make him happier and so this one thing will consume his thoughts, which will in turn shape my day.  This one thing, this huge thing, is his keyboard.

Aaron’s computer took its last breath over a week ago.  Aaron even demonstrated to us several times the unusual noise that his computer made as it breathed its last.  His rendition was quite hilarious, as Aaron would say.  So Gary, our computer pro (thank the Lord!), diagnosed Aaron’s computer as dead…….very dead, of unknown causes.  Aaron took the news well, especially when he heard his dad say that he would fix it – one way or another.  After all, we have to live with Aaron.   It turned out that Gary had to order a new computer and many parts and pieces, which he somehow knew how to put together (thank the Lord again…….and Gary!).  I have no idea how Gary has this knowledge, but I do believe he was just born with this innate ability to be able to put almost anything together.  I walked downstairs one night after the parts arrived in the mail and found Gary with multiple screws, most very small, and lots of computer-looking things laying around………….and I wondered how this was all going to turn out.  But he did it and now Aaron has a new computer. 

We remove Aaron’s keyboard from his room every night because if he has his keyboard in the morning he is very grouchy.  This routine works  well and Aaron has come to expect it.  He knows that if he has a good morning, then when he returns from his group, his keyboard will be on his desk – just waiting for him!  And now with his new computer, and having been without a computer for many days, he is totally enjoying  his games again. 

This past Friday,  Aaron woke up with a mild sore throat.  On Saturday, the sore throat was worse and now he has a bad cold.  He has still been playing his Lego Star Wars game, but has also been sleeping more and coughing more, and of course, snorting more………….snorting a lot.  And telling us over and over again that he doesn’t feel well.  He has to be sure that we don’t lose sight of that fact.

On Friday night, after gorging on popcorn at the movie with his group that afternoon, and then gorging again when he was invited to Elijah’s house for the evening, he burped.  He burped and then he informed me, “Mom, hot acid just came through that place where my throat is sore.” 

Well, that’s just gross, Aaron!  But he is puzzled at my reaction.  Facts are facts, Mom.

Last night he said, “I hate my breath.”  I was about to say that I do, too………..but I refrained.  He then explained, after I asked, that he doesn’t like how it feels to breathe when he has this cold……….all stopped up and then coughing, too.  So he hates his breath.  Only Aaron would say it in such a way, and I smile.

I told him that he could stay home today since he is feeling so poorly and having breath issues.  This news made Aaron very happy.  He loves his group but he does love being at home, especially when he doesn’t feel so well.  However, the main thing on Aaron’s mind is his keyboard………..his keyboard which is laying on my dresser and not on his desk. 

He lumbered downstairs early this morning and sat at the kitchen table with me.  “I don’t feel so well, Mom.”   I totally expected this.  I almost said it for him.  He brightened when I told him that I was aware of how he feels and that he was staying home today.  And he replied, “I’m not going to ask for my keyboard today.  Am I?”
  
We had a little stare-down.  I was totally resigning myself to my future for this day, and Aaron was completely unaware.   He continued by asking, “What do you think?” 

Believe me Aaron, you do not want to know what I am thinking. 

I assured him that he could have the keyboard later in the day, knowing very well that I have not heard the end of his keyboard comments.  This is my lot for today.  And sure enough, as I folded a load of laundry he said, “Mom, can I have the keyboard later?  I’m not making you!”   This, and various other keyboard references, have already been a part of my morning.  He also said, “Mom, I like my new keyboard box.  It has a cute light where I turn on my keyboard.” 

A keyboard box.  This is what he calls his new computer.  I could never make up the words that he uses to describe things, and I smile even as I tuck that description away so that I can share it with Gary later.

Aaron decided to go out to the mulch awhile ago.  “Mom, I’m going outside.  Can I have my keyboard later?”  And just now, when I heard him come in, he was soon asking, “Mom, I’m going upstairs.  Can you put my keyboard up?”

Aaron is tenacious, that’s for sure.  He holds on to his ideas and desires until we let go.  He may change his approach, as he just said, “Mom?  How ’bout you do it after your shower?”  I know he works better if he has a definite time frame to work with.  He doesn’t allow us the freedom to be vague. 

Here he comes again.  Like I said, this is my day.  Gotta love Aaron!  And I better get something concrete set in place regarding his keyboard, real quick! 

So goes my day.

Grandma Einstein

The other night I went into Aaron’s room to tell him goodnight.  There he was, all propped up in bed with his special fuzzy black pillow behind his back and all his other items around him in the particular order that he likes.  I walked around his bed to get to the side on which he sat so that I could hug him……..and as always, he never looked up from his reading to acknowledge that I was there.  I hugged him anyway as he continued to read and I said, “Goodnight, Aaron.  I hope you sleep well.  Love you.”  To which he replied, “Hmmm – OK.” 

And as so often happens, when I started to walk away he perked up and said, “Mom!”   Which means that I must stop and turn to face him while I wait for him to continue.  And wait.  And wait.  And finally he said, “Mom, I bit my lip while I was eating nuts.  See?  Is there a bite point?”   He poked his bottom lip out so that I could perhaps better see the bite point.  I leaned down and looked at his lip as he pulled it downward, hoping that surely I would see the bite point and have some empathy for his pain.  All I was seeing was the rather gross view of the inside of his lip, even as I wondered where he had stashed his peanuts.  Well, I did see a little something on his lip so I told him that yes, I think I saw the bite point……….and he was satisfied. 

He immediately held out the book he was reading – his Handy Answer Science Book – and said, “Mom, look!  I’m reading about that scientist.  You know…..the one named Einstein.” 

Yes, Aaron, Einstein was very smart.

Aaron responded, “But he had really funny hair.  Einstein looks like a girl!  He looks like a Grandma!”

I apologize to you Grandmas out there.
I tried to explain a little about Einstein to Aaron, but he was totally immersed in the thoughts of Einstein’s wayward hair and how much he looked like a girl……..a Grandma girl, to be precise.

Aaron has a very inquisitive mind and we often tell him that he is very smart because of his curiosity………..like Einstein.  A few days after our Grandma Einstein conversation, I again told Aaron that he is very curious and smart……to which he replied, “Like when I know that if you drink lots of water, your pee is clear?”

Good grief.  He sometimes leaves me speechless.  He stood there, very proud of the fact that he knows this scientific information concerning the relationship between the volume of water one has drunk………..well, never mind.

Speaking of which, Aaron has always had a certain fear of toilets.  He is absolutely terrified of a toilet overflowing.  He is also scientific enough to know that when the water volume is very low, then the toilet is probably stopped up.  In addition, he is also scientific enough to know that this probability is directly related to the amount of toilet paper that he sometimes tries to get the toilet to accept without overflowing.  He has learned that toilets have limits.  Small amounts of water in said toilets usually mean that these toilets have reached their limits, and the next flush may be disastrous.  His worst fear is then realized.

In his bathroom, there is a fairly new toilet that has a low water volume.  Aaron does not trust this toilet……..at all.  The other night he said, “Mom, I used your and Dad’s bathroom.”  Now this is nothing new and I wondered why he felt the need to share that information.  I told him once again that he should use his bathroom…….his nice, new bathroom that is all his now.  I asked him, “Aaron, why don’t you like to use your toilet?”   And he matter of factly answered, “Because the water is quite low, actually.”

I laughed.  He sounded so much like a professor…….an Einstein without the Grandma hair, reading his Handy Science Answer Book and sharing with his mother some of the things he has learned.  He is curious, and he is literal.  The other night it was,  “Mom, I was reading about the periodic table.  That’s a funny name for a table.”   I guess he thought of this fact because we were playing Skip-Bo at our kitchen table, which reminded him of that strange table he had read about………the periodic table.    I assured him that the periodic table was not a table at all, like our kitchen table, but was a chart. 

“A chart?” he asked.   Yes, Aaron, a kind of chart…….you know, a chart…….on paper.   He thought for a few seconds and then said, “It’s not a normal kind of table.” 

Ah, literal Aaron.  A table is a table is a table…………so a periodic table is some kind of strange table, not a normal table.  Forget the chart idea, silly mom!  So I didn’t press the issue or try to explain it further, as I have in the past.  Explaining the elements and their symbols to Aaron was a bit much that time, I remember.  It made me want to pull my hair, but then he’d say I was looking like Einstein.  I mean, I am a girl…………old enough to be a Grandma girl.
 
Let’s talk about toilets, Aaron.