Was it just last weekend that I flew home from a wonderful vacation week in Alabama? It seems much longer than a week. There are reasons for that. But first, I did enjoy a great time of relaxing with my dear friend Glenda in her beautiful home. Bruce and Glenda are friends of ours from way back. Gary and I met them at Gary’s first assignment following his graduation from flight school in 1983. We did lots of life together in Colorado Springs while stationed at Fort Carson, and then later as we both lived in Germany. It had been 23 years since we last saw each other. Bruce and Glenda very kindly flew me to Alabama for several days of rest and relaxation. We took up right where we left off, too, not missing a beat. Glenda and I talked a blue streak last week, and I think we pretty well caught up on everything. It was really a refreshing time for me.
In the airports and on the planes, I finally finished reading Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts. What a challenging book this has been for me! Challenging me to be thankful….grateful…..in all situations. Our friends, Kurt and Jill Grier, gave me this book while Aaron was in the hospital last June. What a perfect setting for this insightful book to be given!
So flying home last Saturday, I finally finished this book. At the very end, Ann wrote this: “Every breath’s a battle between grudgery and gratitude and we must keep thanks on the lips so we can sip from the holy grail of joy.” There is a reason that God let me read that line on that day…..the day I was flying home…..to life at our house.
I heard him before I saw him. I was near the escalator in our beautiful new Eisenhower Airport here in Wichita. Home at last. I was focused on that down escalator when I heard, “MOM!!!”
I looked over to my left, and there was Aaron. He had just bounded off of the comfy chair where he was sitting near Gary as they waited for me to round the corner. How appropriate that the very first word I heard when I reached home was that word that Aaron says the most. Mom!
His smile was huge as he came toward me, rubbing his hands together in great delight. Delight to see me? Yes, in his own way. But more delight, I believe, in the fact that he could finally tell me in person what he was anxiously waiting to say. “MOM!!! I finished watching…..” And he was off, words tumbling over each other as he told me about the latest movie he had just completed. Aliens and battles and robots and laser vision…..all of it, coming out in a loud rush.
He had no interest in my trip home. He only cared that I WAS home. He did give me a hug as I reached out to him, but he didn’t stop talking. Gary and I hugged and kissed to our typical background music of Aaron’s constant talking. We’ve learned to jump in quickly between his words in order to say our own to each other.
There is no slow re-entry into life with Aaron. He blows in with no interruptions allowed, words and hands flying, expecting us to show great interest. And we opened the door at our house to our large dog, to Aaron following and talking, to trick-or-treaters, to the time change, and to me coming down with a stomach bug that evening. Interesting. What was that quote I had just read?
It gets better. And let me again quote dear Alice Zwemke: “I’m not complaining. I’m just reporting.” This week….
On Monday I took Aaron to the dentist for a cleaning. A small cavity was found. On Tuesday, I took him back to the dentist for a filling. He was a little sullen and quiet (thankful for the quiet part!) on Monday, but on Tuesday he was full of smiles and talk. He even carried in his Happy Spider from Hawaii that Glenda had sent him, and kept Happy Spider on his lap while he got his tooth repaired.
By that evening, Aaron still had a crooked smile from his tooth procedure. The dentist said not to worry, and sure enough by that night he had returned to normal. So on Wednesday he was able to finally return to Paradigm, his day group, even though he complained of not feeling well. That afternoon he had a big seizure there, so I went to pick him up, carrying clean clothes since he was incontinent during this seizure. He had another seizure shortly after going to bed that night.
On Thursday, he woke up with my stomach virus that I was kind enough to share. Between bathroom visits, he slept nearly all day. No Paradigm.
Yesterday, Friday, he still wasn’t feeling great so he stayed home again. No Paradigm. By the evening he was more himself, so I foolishly let him enjoy his pizza night. I felt sorry for him because we had planned to have a pizza party at one of Paradigm’s residential homes with several of his friends on Friday, and we had to cancel it. It was an early birthday celebration for him. So pizza it was, at home……which he later threw up as he sat in his chair in the family room. Poor Aaron.
And I now have a chest cold.
So here we are. Life at its best, right? That quote again….we must keep thanks on the lips. I’ve been practicing that attitude this week as best I can, failing at times but also so aware of the power of gratitude that is so dear to God’s heart. From God’s heart to my lips.
I’m thankful for our washing machine and our dryer; for bleach; for hot water; for Aaron’s excellent waterproof mattress pad; for Gary’s hard work in providing for us so that I don’t have to work; for our gorgeous fall colors to enjoy as I look out the windows or drive around town; for our large kitchen trash can last night during the throwing up episode; for not being in the hospital like some I know and love; for all of this happening while I am home and not out of town; for God’s forgiveness when I fail; for the love of friends and family…..and for so much more.
For Aaron, who just rolls with the flow….which is a pretty yucky saying right now, actually. Sorry. Anyway, he handles things better than most. He’s more concerned with his routine than with his disappointments. I’m carrying the disappointments. He carries the changes to his routine.
“Mom, I’m going to bed now,” he said on Wednesday night. “I’m not going to bed at 10:00.” It was 8:23 when he laid down and I turned off his light. But soon I saw the light from under his bedroom door. I asked if he was ok. He told me that he was fine…..that he was just writing down what time he went to bed in his log book. Well, of course.
Aaron showers at 8:00 or a little later every night. He showered in the late afternoon on Thursday. “Mom?” he asked. “Because I just showered, does that mean I have to shower by 8:00 tonight?”
Wheel of Fortune is still being turned on at 6:28, not 6:27, though….so that’s a good thing. And Mom must be reminded to wait on the coffee maker to perk more coffee in order to fill that third cup before carrying them up to Aaron’s room. One doesn’t take TWO cups of coffee to Aaron’s room. It must be THREE cups, for crying out loud.
Sometimes Aaron weighs us down on many levels. But I’m thankful for the blessings that are many, the smiles that are frequent, and the laughter that comes unexpectedly.
“Mom!!” he said the other morning as he stared down into his empty coffee cup. “Why is there coffee bean powder in my cup?”
See what I mean?