Sometimes the hours and the days run together. I think, “Oh, I’d love to share this about Aaron or that about Aaron,” but I run out of time or motivation, or the stories just don’t seem as funny or meaningful as they did when they first happened. Often, if I don’t write the story soon after it happens, I feel like I lose my inspiration. What was I trying to convey? What did I hope to capture?
So today I was looking at some pictures I had recently taken. I decided that perhaps I would share a few of those pictures with you in order to just give a little update on life with Aaron. A life colored by his unique outlook, which has partially developed because of how autism and seizures affect him, and also because of how his personality was shaped by God.
A friend came over for lunch last week, surprising me with a bouquet of tulips when I opened the front door. When Aaron came home that afternoon, he was delighted to see something unusual on the kitchen table. There were the purple tulips, in a vase of water, just ready for him to examine. I immediately told him not to touch them, because Aaron loves to not only touch flowers and plants, but to also squeeze them to see if they are real. Or he’ll pull the petals and leaves. Therefore, I know to tell him up front to not pull….or squeeze…..or do any other tests for realness.
The tulips wilted over the next few days, so I finally decided one evening that they were ready to throw away. Aaron was very happy about this, because it meant that he could examine them more fully than he had previously been allowed. He had fun rubbing the yellow pollen on his finger as we examined the stamens together. He then pulled some of the petals off and laid them in a little pile.
“I want every petal on every plant!” he exclaimed as he started his petal pile. But then he stopped and thought a moment as I offered to put the petals in a plastic bag for him. “No,” he decided. “They’ll just turn crispy.” So he abandoned his petal idea as he left the kitchen.
A couple days later, he was thinking about the missing tulips and he said, “Mom, what species are you going to get now?” I told him that I probably wouldn’t replace the tulips. He continued, “You need to get a different species! Get roses!” And I decided that Aaron has a great eye for flower species!
Everything in Aaron’s life is significant to him. Even socks. I don’t know why he sometimes thinks that he should wear a pair of socks more than one day. I tell him repeatedly to always put his socks in the laundry every day, and then get a clean pair the next morning. But every now and then he’ll ask, “Tomorrow, can I wear the ones I wore today?” And I always tell him no.
“I’m gonna save these,” he said one day. Why does he act like he needs to preserve his socks? He didn’t notice my deep sigh as I told him to go count his socks.
“I have four pair,” he reported after a few minutes. I assured him that four pairs of socks would last four days, and that I would be doing laundry in order to provide him with clean socks…….LOTS of clean socks…….before the four days were up and the four pairs of socks were gone.
The next day he came up to me and said very seriously, out of the blue, “Now I have three socks.” That was just this past Sunday, so after church Gary and I ran to Sam’s. I bought Aaron a package of ten……TEN…….new pairs of socks. He was happy. The pressure was off…..for both of us.
But he wasn’t totally finished. On Sunday night, before he went to bed, he asked, “Do you want me to wear one of those new socks tomorrow?” Really, sometimes I feel like I’m going to develop a twitch like the Inspector did in the Pink Panther movies.
All of you know that Aaron loves EXACT times. And he loves to do things, like eating lunch when he’s home, at EXACT times. The other Saturday morning, he got up and came downstairs. “Mom, I got up at 7:01.”
“Did you, Aaron?” I asked.
“Yes,” he replied. “But I decided not to come out of my room at 7:01 because I thought 7:01 was too early.” He stood there staring at me.
“Should I have gotten up at 7:01?” he finally asked when I didn’t give him his desired response.
I told him that it was fine to get up around 7:00.
“7:01,” he replied.
Whatever. But I didn’t say that, because it’s very important to Aaron to be precise with time. I just smiled and let him continue.
“I’m telling Dad I got up at 7:01,” he said as he headed for Gary’s study. Yep, it’s that important.
Today Aaron stayed home because he had a seizure this morning……at 7:27. Later, as he had recovered, I asked him if he wanted something to eat before he laid back down. He looked at the clock, and I knew what was coming. It wasn’t 12:00.
“Is it 12:00?” he asked. Then he saw that it wasn’t 12:00.
“No,” he continued. “I don’t want to eat until 12:00.”
He woke up later, a little after 12:00, but that was still an allowed time for him to eat lunch because it wasn’t before 12:00. AFTER 12:00 is allowed. These things are important to know.
He ate some pizza. He often has a spoon with his pizza, and very often he will include the whole set of silverware…..knife, spoon, and fork. Never mind that he doesn’t use the utensils. He needs them there beside his plate.
And the bowl, of course, in which he places his pepperoni to be eaten later. I don’t know why he won’t eat the pepperoni with his pizza, but he rarely does that. He places the pepperoni in the bowl, and then eats it last, when all the pizza is gone.
I’ve also told you how much Aaron loves his stuffed snake and his stuffed skunk. They must be in his bed every night, where he meticulously arranges them until they are just right.
This morning, after Aaron’s seizure, I had to wash his bedding. This time I also needed to wash his snake and skunk. The skunk has seen better days. He had a large rip on his head and he was missing some stuffing. I mentioned throwing him away, but I could tell Aaron was bothered by that. So I sewed up the dirty skunk, and then tossed him and Mr. Snake in the wash. That’s why later we didn’t have snakes on a plane, but we had a snake and a skunk in the dryer. They are clean now and ready to once again be oh-so-carefully placed into Aaron’s bed tonight.
On our way to church this past Sunday, I climbed in the passenger seat of our van and closed the door. When I reached for the handle, I saw them…..the toothpicks that Aaron had confiscated a few days earlier from Carlos O’Kelly’s. Gary and I laughed when I held them up…..a reminder of Aaron and of Aaron’s ways. He does love his toothpicks, like he loves his silverware that he often doesn’t even use.
That’s how it is with Aaron. We see his marks all around us in the ways that he lives his life. It seems no matter where we turn, we are reminded of Aaron and of his special ways. We may laugh, or roll our eyes, or bite our tongues, or sigh deeply, but there’s no getting away from all the ways that Aaron leaves his mark on our lives and in our hearts.
And we are richer for it.