Do you remember that old song, Color My World, sung by Chicago? I’ve always LOVED that song! The meaning of those lyrics takes on a different hue when I think of our life with Aaron, and how he most definitely puts his own color on everything that we do.
For instance, on Sunday after church I took Aaron with me to our local Dillon’s. The grocery store is one of Aaron’s very favorite places! Every aisle is full of discovery to him. And since those discoveries involve his taste buds, he is especially eager to go along if offered the opportunity.
Sunday was a chilly day, but not a super cold day. However, Aaron decided that it was super cold, no matter what I said. So he walked outside to the van with his toboggan perched goofily on his head and wearing his thick winter gloves. I could have insisted that he take them off, but after suggesting such, he still wanted to wear his arctic garb and so I just let it go.
We went in the store, and as I headed to the pharmacy, Aaron veered off to explore the candy and snack aisle. No surprise there! When I veered up the same aisle to join him later, I had to laugh at the sight of him standing there examining the selection of peanuts.
He did not think it at all unusual to still be wearing his hat and his gloves. Nor did he think it at all unusual to talk loudly when he saw me coming toward him.
“Mom!!” he bellowed. “I’m looking at the peanuts!!”
And with that update, he proceeded to bend over to examine the jar that he thought he wanted.
And then he had to stretch his arm out to retrieve the perfect jar.
“See, MOM?!” he continued to bellow. “These are lightly salted! Is that good?”
I assured him that this jar was a great choice, and off we went to the self check-out…where he proceeded to talk to the attendant there about his lightly salted peanuts, in his commanding voice and his even more commanding presence…hat and gloves still included.
Sometimes it’s easy to be embarrassed by Aaron. He doesn’t need the funny hat and gloves to be noticed, trust me! So on this day, as he was even more noticed than usual, I just smiled and tried to see Aaron through fresh eyes…to relish how unusual he is…and to enjoy the moment.
The colors of that moment could have been red from my red face, and maybe my face was slightly red some of the time. But that’s OK. A little red doesn’t hurt me one bit!
Another aspect of my colorful life with Aaron has been the joy of getting to know other moms of special needs children and adults. The special bond we share is a rare treasure. It’s very encouraging to walk the same path with others, though none of us would wish our circumstances on them. But here we are, together on this journey, and our shared experiences make us all stronger.
One of those friends, Joyce, has a particularly rough path as she mothers two adult sons with very significant special needs. I truly am in awe of what she must handle on a “normal” day, much less on the kind of days she has had lately. One of her sons had his wisdom teeth removed. Then sickness hit the family, including Joyce and both her special sons. Intestinal…respiratory…fevers…seizures…many, many sleepless nights.
Her world is most certainly colored right now with the colors of poop and puke and puffy eyes, to be honest. So on Sunday afternoon, I called her and I asked if she might want to escape for a bit…go somewhere and catch a breath of fresh air. Change the colors a bit.
“Yes!” she said. And a short time later, when I pulled into her driveway, she strode out to my van with a big smile on her face. I was amazed, though knowing Joyce, I shouldn’t have been.
“Look at your smile!” I told her as she climbed in.
“Well, I know what I want to do!” she happily declared.
I was expecting her to name a restaurant…or a park…or maybe the mall.
“I would like to go to Dollar Tree,” she continued, “and get five vases. Then I want to go buy some tulips and take them up to Oxford Villa.”
And again, this woman amazed me. Oxford Villa is a senior assisted living center where her mother used to live. Joyce wanted to take some vases of flowers there for some of the residents who might not have anyone who loves them and brings them flowers.
Joyce, I thought, needed some color in her life. But instead, she wanted to GIVE some color to others! I was so touched by her unselfishness! So impacted by yet another lesson taught to me by this dear friend!
Instead of sipping a coke or coffee while eating a piece of dessert somewhere, I watched Joyce buy pretty colored vases and then examine the beautiful colors of tulips at another store. We realized that Sunday was not the best day to deliver the flowers, though, so that job will be completed another day. I hope I can help make that delivery!
Sometimes the best way to mix up our colors in this all-too-demanding life of parenting special needs children…or any other part of life that is draining you…is to look beyond yourself and see the needs of others. To reach out and help carry their burden while taking your eyes off your own for awhile.
There was joy for me in watching goofy looking Aaron find just the right jar of peanuts.
There was joy for me in watching Joyce’s delight in finding just the right colorful vases for some unknown, needy seniors.
Looking beyond ourselves causes us to see so many stunning colors that otherwise would have remained hidden.
It’s so worth the effort, even with red cheeks or through tired eyes!
Thank you, Joyce, for your wonderful and colorful friendship!