Last week Gary and I took Aaron with us on a vacation/work trip back home to our families in both West Virginia and North Carolina. It had been way too long since Aaron had been home with us, so it was nice to have this opportunity to take him along. One purpose of our trip was to meet with my brother and sisters in West Virginia, and to go through all the items that were left in our mother’s storage unit since her death in May. Then we went down to Gary’s hometown in the North Carolina Smoky Mountains. We hadn’t been there in ages, so we spent more time there than in West Virginia on this trip.
Aaron is really a good traveler, which is surprising in some ways since he loves his routine and loves his things in order. But he also loves time with us, and he loves the snack bag that I fill before we leave, and he loves the motel, and he definitely loves eating out. He makes sure that he nails down the fact that we ARE eating out as we hit the road bright and early on the day we leave. When that fact is established to his liking, he then seeks to determine if we’re eating IN a restaurant.
We usually stop at this particular rest area in Kansas City, which overlooks both the Chiefs and the Royals stadiums. Aaron was only slightly impressed with that, pausing long enough for me to take the first obligatory picture of our trip…..the first of many that he tolerated as we vacationed together.
He was far more impressed with the Cracker Barrel where we ate a midday meal later that first day. He loved the stuffed turkey that he and Gary found in the gift shop, and couldn’t wait for me to press the turkey’s wing. Aaron rubbed his hands together in delight as the turkey sang, “Hey, good lookin’, what you got cookin’? How about cookin’ something else but me?” We heard Aaron sing that song several times that day. And he also played the peg game while we waited on our meal, beating Gary on his first try!
Our server there was so kind to Aaron, smiling at him with understanding and even bringing Aaron his very own travel map. Several servers on this trip were that way with Aaron…..showing kindness and even delight on the unique way that Aaron interacted with them.
Aaron quickly set up house at John and Jeanie’s when we arrived in Princeton. We had barely said hello before he was deciding where he would perch himself and his DVD player, looking for an outlet and not at all concerned about rearranging furniture or grabbing a chair on which to place his DVD player in front of him. He did the same thing at his Aunt Sandra’s when we got to Bryson City on Tuesday. Never mind unimportant hugs or pleasantries. The most necessary business was to get himself situated and comfortable. Hellos and hugs and small talk was for the rest of us, after we helped him line up his little corner of the world just right.
Aaron really did very well in so many ways on this trip. Of course, he had times of frustration when he didn’t want to go somewhere that we went…..or he wanted to be on my tablet looking up GI Joe videos instead of going to see friends….or he was a little tired of seeing too much pretty scenery. We had to work a few times to try to derail him from the track of frustration that he was on for the moment without becoming totally frustrated ourselves. Then there were his loud noises which were new to many in the family. He sure can make people jump!
But there were very many moments to treasure, far more than the ones that we would rather forget. He sat in our vehicle for over five hours while we went through Mom’s storage unit, watching Looney Tunes DVDs and making tons of crazy noises. Like Mary Beth said, he was our sound effects while we worked. I just wonder what the family down from us thought as they worked on their unit. He hugged family and friends, he talked all of our ears off about aliens and other interests, he kept up a weird schedule, he slept in different beds, and he tolerated hours of driving.
Here are more pictures of some of the things that were very special during this trip.
He found a fun bug at the West Virginia rest stop.
He was happy to finally be in West Virginia.
And happy to also go to North Carolina.
We had a delightful visit with Leo.
We ate at Naber’s……TWICE!! Look at the view right there!
He sang for Aunt Sandra.
We went walking up Deep Creek.
And dad helped him find some little Deep Creek rocks……
while Aunt Sandra found a HUGE leaf!!
He was happy to go see Pam and Russ after a stubborn spell that day……
and pet and feed the horses in the pasture beside their house!
Those are just a few of the wonderful times we had on this special trip. On the day we left to return to Kansas, Aaron had a mild seizure while still in bed early that morning. He had another big seizure in the car on the interstate, and a larger one that night in the hotel. He thankfully had just gotten out of the shower before that last seizure, and was sitting up in bed reading. He hit his head really hard on the headboard as the seizure jerked him backwards, and then on the nightstand as it threw him sideways, but thankfully he was fine. God was good to protect him, and to let him have a full week of fun and family before that seizure hit.
It was a reminder of how fragile he really is in some ways, physically, and of how tough he is as he rebounds despite a sore head and a bitten tongue and not being able to taste food the next morning. It jerks Gary and I back to reality, but also causes us to be thankful for every good day and special memory during our family trip.
It may not always be easy to have Aaron come along, but it’s always worthwhile to have him along with us…..not just on this trip, but along this journey of life together with our special son.