A new year is upon us!! Welcome, 2017!
A fresh start can be so nice. New everything. Out with the old, right? Well, not always, as I have seen on the past two days. We all know that to be true.
I ended my old year on a most familiar note…..playing SkipBo with Aaron right before bed. I guess that’s our version of a party, which suits Aaron perfectly as he really does NOT like parties. Parties have too much noise and emotion for him, thank you very much. But SkipBo with Mom is orderly, predictable, with nice piles of sequential numbers, and plenty of opportunity to cheat. Yes, cheat, of which Aaron is a master if not watched closely.
The next morning, our New Year morning, saw Aaron blandly staring at me as I very happily wished him a Happy New Year!! His lack of expression at these moments is often hilarious, but I can’t always laugh because he finds that emotional expression irritating or he thinks I am laughing at him. Which at times I am, but in a good way that he just wouldn’t understand.
Anyway, Aaron’s main concerns on our New Year morning were:
1) Can I have FOUR cups of coffee? (Don’t worry. The cups are half full).
2) Are there coupons in the newspaper for me to cut?
3) What time are we going to Chili’s for lunch?
Aaron had opened a gift during our family Christmas Bingo game. The gift was a Chili’s gift card that was burning a hole in…..well, in my wallet because I don’t dare give Aaron gift cards to keep. They won’t keep with him. They will be lost or given away.
I told Aaron that we would go to Chili’s after church. He wanted to know the exact time, so I gave him my usual ball park figure and he was happy. He was not so happy with the coupons in the paper for some reason. Still slow from his cluster of seizures on Friday night, the coupons did not make him show his usual sense of purpose. However, he settled in on the floor with his coupon trash cans as he sat on his coupon pillow with his coupon scissors…..and his FOUR cups of coffee on the bench nearby…..and he began to clip the coupons, very slowly.
I was in the bathroom later when Aaron came to the door. “Mom,” he slowly began. “I was cutting coupons but there were too much.”
“OK,” I responded.
“There were too much,” he repeated.
“Yes, there were a lot today,” I replied.
“There were too much coupons,” he said again.
“There were too much,” he once again asserted when he got no Mom reply.
Pause. Sigh from me.
“Aaron, just take a break. You can finish them later,” foolish Mom said.
“I ripped them,” Aaron flatly replied.
Pause. Another sigh from me.
I was following Aaron’s train of thought, one all too familiar. He didn’t want me to cut those coupons.
“Because you don’t do them right,” he continued. “You don’t cut them straight on the line like I do.”
He made his exit on that note. No surprise from me. It might be a New Year, but we are still living in our old ways…..always, always.
And sure enough, there on the family room floor lay his unfinished little stack of coupons……ripped, just like he said. Aaron’s thinking has always been this…..that if he can’t cut the coupons, NO ONE will cut the coupons. Especially Mom, who is a dismal failure at coupon cutting.
Those ripped coupons were a stark reminder to me that just under the surface with Aaron there is always that issue of how he handles stress in his life. He reacts, and often his reactions are very inappropriate. His behaviors are a huge concern to us. So I stood there being reminded that we were on our first day of a brand New Year, brand new beginnings, brand new opportunities……and here we were, being slapped into our old reality of life with Aaron.
Some things just never change. We know that.
But there were other reminders of wonderful things that never change, either. Gary and I finally got to church on time. Yes, we were one of THOSE people who totally didn’t see the memo on the changed time for church……one of THOSE people who didn’t give New Year’s Day a second thought…..and so on this New Year’s morning we drove to church TWICE. And we laughed at ourselves. We’re HOW old?!
Anyway, we walked into church to the hugs and handshakes of sweet friends. And there was Joyce, who handed me a bag containing a huge bag full of Tootsie Rolls…..for Aaron, because of my recent Tootsie Roll blog. How unexpected and sweet, in more ways than one! Later, Aaron was also surprised and full of smiles at this kind gift.
The care of friends is unchanging in our lives. Such a blessing!
The worship and the message on our New Year’s morning was encouraging and challenging. And we sang one of my most favorite songs – Great is Thy Faithfulness. What a wonderful reminder of God’s unchanging faithfulness in our lives!
And later, as we sat with Aaron at Chili’s, Gary and I watched him ever so slowly eat his enchilada lunch and his salad. His joy at eating out was very evident. Never changing, his love of restaurant food! And seeing that joy is always fun for us, despite our constant reminders to him that he doesn’t need to take 17 toothpicks…..don’t stare at the other people and their food……don’t make noises…..don’t clap…..please don’t loudly stretch when you get out of the booth.
I was able to salvage a few coupons later from the ripped pages. I didn’t let Aaron see me as I quickly cut them out behind his back. And I know that we will continue to try to salvage good out of the bad days that Aaron will surely have this year. It’s our reality with Aaron, New Year or not.
But through it all I know, like that favorite old hymn says, that God will remain the same, too. Faithful to us, as always.
Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.
Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed, Thy hand hath provided.
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.