Does God Like Me?

“Mom?” Aaron asked last night as he was going through his ever-important bedtime routine.  I was ready for yet another question about what the SS means on the side of the Poseidon…or what kind of vision do the aliens on Pacific Rim have…or what is the quick freeze on The Day After Tomorrow movie?  So I just absently responded with my all-too-often reply.

“Hmmm?” I absently answered as he stood beside me in the bathroom, watching me put something away. 

“Do I have seizures because God doesn’t like me?” he continued.

And I stopped…stopped dead in my tracks at this very unexpected question. 

I looked up from what I was doing, into his very serious face. 

“I just wondered if I have seizures because God doesn’t like me,” he continued. 


This is like a question Job would ask, and I wanted to give the right answer without being too shallow or too deep.

I told Aaron that God loves him very much, and that sometimes He allows things to happen.  I wanted to go into full theology mode, but I knew that I could easily lose Aaron, so I assured him again of God’s love and that when we have those questions we need to remember what we know about God…that He IS love, even when we don’t understand what He allows.

Aaron went on to bed soon after, but his question lingered in my mind into this morning.  What brought that question into his mind?  What had he been thinking about? 

Gary and I talked last night at supper, just the two of us, about how on some days we feel like it’s Christmas…and on other days, not so much.  What brings on that “Christmas spirit” we sometimes work so hard to achieve?  At times, we don’t set out to create that feeling, but when it’s missing we wonder what we missed.  Are we tired?  Worried?  Overwhelmed?  Broke?  Or broken?

I walked into Aaron’s room this morning, carrying his fresh coffee and finding him soundly asleep.  I spoke to him but he didn’t stir.  Coming back a little later, I pulled back his covers as he grunted…and I was not happy with what I saw.

A wet bed!  A totally soaked bed!

And last night he and I had changed his sheets!  I was happy to mark that off my Christmas To-Do list. 

“Are you kidding me?” I exclaimed. 

“What?” Aaron sleepily asked.

“You wet your bed!” I impatiently answered.  I was pretty certain it wasn’t a seizure, so I added, “No more water before bed!”

And off I huffed, mumbling my frustration.  Of all days!  I was feeling pretty good last night about finishing the gift wrapping and most of the grocery shopping, and saving Friday for house cleaning and the beginning of my cooking. 

Plans set.  The “Christmas spirit” picking up!

And now this…this time consuming, unexpected, yucky mess!

As I showered and got myself ready, Aaron’s question of the night before came back to my mind.  I was reminded of how much I wanted to impress God’s love upon him.  How could I do that if I was grouchy with him?  And again, how could I answer his searching question in a way that would impact him?

As I thought about it, God gently nudged my heart.  “It’s Christmas, Patty,” He seemed to say.  “What better time to explain my love than at Christmas?”

All of a sudden, wet bedding and a busy day ahead didn’t matter so much.  The Christmas music playing in my bedroom took on a clearer meaning.  I decided to talk to Aaron on our way to his day group.

He promptly turned on the Christmas CD that was in the player as soon as I turned on the van.  “Number 12,” he flatly said.  Aaron always follows the numbers of songs very closely.  “This CD has 14 songs,” he further explained.  “It’s on number 12 now.”

I smiled.  He seems to think that I want to know this information as much as he does.  But this morning, I was glad to know that I had only three songs to go before I could talk to Aaron once again about his last night’s question.

Number 14 song completely ended, and the CD went to number 1 again before Aaron removed it.  You do NOT remove the CD when the number 14 is still showing.  It must have moved on to the next song, just so you know.

I grabbed the moment.  “Aaron, do you remember asking me last night if God doesn’t like you because He lets you have seizures?” I asked. 

“Yeah,” he answered as he placed the CD in its case.

“Well, this is the perfect time of year to remember how much God loves you.  He sent Jesus down to earth to be born as a baby because He loves you and me that much.  You know that’s what Christmas is all about,” I said.

“Yeah,” he repeated. 

“So you don’t have to wonder if God loves you or not because you have seizures.  We don’t understand all that, but we do know that He loves you a bunch!  Jesus’ birth shows you that every day!” I continued.

We continued talking a bit as we neared his day group.  He was content with that answer.  And I noticed in my own heart a return of that mysterious “Christmas spirit.”  It had nothing to do with this:


Or this:

 WP_20171215_14_12_54_Pro (2)

But definitely had everything to do with this!


My Christmas verse this year, so appropriate for me and for Aaron this morning, is one we all know: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him would not perish but would have everlasting life.”  John 3:16

I need to run!  I have a load of bedding to put in the dryer.

Merry Christmas to all!





Contented New Year!

I decided last night to sit by our Christmas tree and do a little reading by the soft glow of the lights and a table lamp nearby.  The tree will be down soon, although I’m resisting that notion.  The rush before Christmas and the craziness during Christmas doesn’t afford many opportunities to just sit quietly by the tree, relishing its beauty and enjoying its warmth.  Now the seasonal rush is over and I’m not wanting to part with my tree.  But I must.  It’s a new year…..a new season…..and normal life returns. 

The book I was reading is authored by Richard Swenson, MD.  The title is Contentment: The Secret to a Lasting Calm.  This title makes me smile as I think of our life with Aaron, which is rarely calm.  God has much to teach me and I wonder if I will ever learn.  I recently read Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts, which stresses the importance of gratefulness.  Swenson’s book is similar, but develops the issue of being content despite our surroundings.  Here is a quote I read last night:

“The best kind of contentment, the truest kind, is a state of feeling unencumbered.  It is a state of absence of fear or anxiety about what we own or don’t own.  It is about freedom from comparison, regardless of what our neighbor has.  It is about lack of pretense, so devastating to authenticity and so tedious to maintain.  And the best kind of contentment, the very best, is divorced from circumstances.”

My circumstances so often dictate my mood, and there in the bullseye of my life… circumstances…..stands Aaron.  We love Aaron.  We have chosen to keep Aaron at home at this season of his life.  Yet living with Aaron is like riding a roller coaster as we experience the highs and lows of his health and behavior issues.  This holiday of Christmas highlights all of Aaron’s needs and emotions like no other.  He’s excited, happy, overwhelmed, stressed, and frustrated….just like the rest of us.  But he certainly doesn’t contain or handle those emotions, most of the time, in ways that are acceptable.

Aaron is like our gifts under the tree, all different shapes and sizes and wrapped in various colors and designs of paper.  We have the giving side of Aaron that makes us proud, but can also cause some trouble.  The Friday before Christmas, Aaron and I went back to see his six friends at their residential home.  We took pizza again, and also took them some Christmas gifts.  Aaron was so happy to do this, as he loves to give.  He helped me put the gifts in bags the night before, turning up his nose in disgust at the yucky lip gloss and body wash.  We laughed and had a great time, as we also did when we visited the girls and gave them their gifts. 

Aaron also gives money away at his day group, which is not allowed.  It’s a nice gesture from Aaron, but it isn’t what he is supposed to do.  It gets out of hand.  I sometimes let him take some gum that he can give away, or cookies, but giving others his money is something that Aaron has always wanted to do, even as a little boy.  We dealt with that issue cropping up again over Christmas as well. 

We have Aaron’s health issues to always monitor as we listen for seizures during the night or when he naps.  Thankfully, he didn’t have any seizures that we know of during Christmas.  But he broke out in some ugly bumps, so on the Monday before Christmas I took him to the doctor.  Gary was off that day, and we were going to take Andrea and her boyfriend Kyle to lunch and a movie.  We were looking forward to that so much, but instead I found myself seeing to Aaron’s needs once again.  And once again I had a choice to make concerning that persistent issue of contentment, despite my circumstances.  Sure enough, Aaron had a staph infection and so I was glad I had taken him in, but still disappointed about our change of plans. 

Aaron’s behaviors come in assorted shapes and sizes, and can change quickly.  Life is pretty stable with Aaron at home on a normal day, but when he goes to his day group he becomes loud and full of behaviors.  The same is true at home over Christmas, with all the change in his routine and the house full of people.  Aaron has to share his time with others and his structured world is turned upside down.  All the talking and laughing and extra noise is often overwhelming to him.

Andrea’s boyfriend, Kyle, was here for the whole week.  We were concerned about how Aaron would react to him.  But Kyle was a natural with Aaron, treating him as an equal and being totally comfortable around him.  What a relief!  Kyle certainly passed the Aaron test!  Even when Aaron became unkind, Kyle didn’t show any reaction and he understood.  Aaron insisted on playing Christmas Bingo with us, which he usually detests, and also even played the Hershey’s Kiss game…..trying to open the kisses while wearing bulky silicone gloves.

Aaron can’t stand the silliness of games and parties, so playing these games was a stretch for him.  Aaron targeted Kyle during the first Bingo game he played with us, being rude to Kyle as he blamed him for his own discomfort and frustration.  The next time Aaron played with us, the following night, he did much better.  And during Skip-Bo, while there was the noise of Star Wars being watched by Andrea and Kyle in the background, Aaron became very bothered by the lack of his usual quietness as we played. 

“I wish Kyle would leave this house!” Aaron said, over and over. 

“But Aaron,” I replied.  “You like Kyle and you’ve had fun with him.  Let’s talk about what’s really wrong.  You just don’t like all the extra noise and things being so different right now.  Right?”

“I wish Kyle would leave this house!” came Aaron’s response. 


Aaron also had similar comments toward friends of ours that spent the night with us this week.  He went from making them laugh the night before to being disrespectful the next morning.  I understand the reasons because I understand how Aaron thinks, but it’s still very embarrassing.  Thankfully, Dawn has a special needs daughter who also gets overwhelmed, but still…..

There go my circumstances again!  And the choices I must make, and often fail at doing so correctly.

Up and down!

And there were many good moments…..special times with Aaron as he enjoyed the week of Christmas.  He LOVES Andrea’s dogs, and they generally tolerate him pretty well.  Christmas morning was especially sweet with Aaron and Darcy.

And Aaron makes us laugh with many of his comments, of course, and his actions.

So here we are, with memories of Christmas still fresh and with a new year just beginning.  I need to find Aaron a new autism doctor…..need to think about all those day group behaviors and why he acts that way there……monitor his sodium levels… with the seizures and the meds that help, but also cause some of his behaviors…..and much, much more.

And to work on my own contentment, like the Apostle Paul said, in whatever state I am….to be content.  In a state of sadness, or a state of frustration, or fear, or embarrassment, or turmoil, laughter and joy…..

Swenson says, “Contentment is our glad submission wrapped in God’s providence.  The doctrine of providence explains that God has a plan, and that it is a perfect plan.  Since He is all-powerful, it is impossible for us to thwart the plan.  We either accept it or we kick against it, but regardless, the plan goes forward.”

Yep.  Just like Aaron goes forward, and we experience the highs and lows, the ups and downs….often hanging on for dear life. 

Instead of Happy New Year, I wish for myself a Contented New Year, despite whether I am feeling happy or not.

And so I wish that for each of you as well.

Contented New Year, everyone! 


The Nail Trim

I remember climbing on my Daddy’s lap when I was a little girl.  He was sitting in his chair near the fireplace, with his shelves of books on one side and his end table on the other.  His newspaper was on the end table where he could eventually read it at the end of a busy, tiring day on the railroad.  His Bible was also laying there within easy reach.  He read his Bible often as he sat in his chair. He was always ready and willing to listen to my questions about what the Bible said about this and that, especially as I got older.

But when I was little and would climb on his lap, I remember the gentleness that he showed.  In the early years he smelled of pipe tobacco and smoke…..that subtle odor that comforted me.  I can still see him emptying his pipe of the old tobacco and then refilling it with fresh, tapping it gently and pressing the tobacco down just right.  I can hear the sound of the pipe stem on his teeth and see the soft, swirling smoke around his head at the end of the day as he relaxed.

Dad was never too tired to listen to us kids as we talked to him.  He was patient and kind, and so wise.  Sometimes when I would climb up on his lap, he would read me a book.  Sometimes we would just snuggle.  And at other times, he would take my hands and check my nails.  If they were too long, he would ever so carefully trim each nail.  I sat very still, watching him take each of my fingers and cut the nail just right.  Then off I would hop and go on my way, not giving much thought to that simple deed that Dad performed. 

Until years later…..many years later.  The tables had turned, as they so often do, and I and my family had become the caregivers.  Dad was in his last month of life as the cancer he had fought for eight years was winning the battle.  I had been able to go home to help Jan and John as they cared for him and Mom.  It was a month of many cherished memories that fill my heart every day, especially during this Christmas season.  It was December when Dad died.  It was December and Christmas that he and Mom loved so much.

One day I rolled Dad in his wheelchair into the living room so that he could enjoy the pretty Christmas tree.  I helped him get onto the couch, his thin body so frail and weak.  Then I sat beside him and snuggled close to his bony side.  Words were few because it took too much energy for him to lift his head and talk.  But he still smiled….that gentle, kind smile that was his signature. 

As we sat there in the soft glow of the Christmas lights, I looked down at his fragile hands resting on his lap.  Hands that had worked hard, disciplined well, warmly hugged, and folded in prayer.  And I saw that his nails were so long.  How had we let them get in that shape?  So I looked in his tired face and I asked him if he would like me to trim his nails.  He slowly lifted his bowed head and gave me that smile as he said yes ever so softly. 

I got some clippers and a nail file, and I set to work on his nails.  I was afraid of hurting him so I worked very carefully, taking each finger and slowly trimming and filing.  He was very still and quiet as I worked.  Finally I was done.  He looked down at his hands and smiled again, and then slowly looked me in the eyes as he thanked me.  For days afterward, he talked about how good it felt to have his nails trimmed as he thanked me over and over. 

And just as when I was a little girl, the significance of that act didn’t hit me until later.  Dad showed me such love in the simple deed of trimming my nails when I was young.  Now it was my turn to show him the same love in the simple deed of doing the same for him in his weakened state.  His strength was mine when I needed him.  My strength was his when he, many years later, needed me.

And it was the love and guidance of Dad’s hands that led me to be there for him at the end of his life.  He raised me and my brother and sisters well.  He loved us deeply, worked hard for us, and led us to know and love the Lord. 

It seems like yesterday that I hopped off of his lap after he trimmed my nails, and ended up beside him on his couch trimming his nails beside the Christmas tree.  Now his and Mom’s memorial ornaments hang on my tree, and all I have are memories.  
But someday I’ll take his hand again in heaven, and Mom’s as well, and see them both strong and whole once more. 


Love Rules!

Here we are.  It’s the third day of our new year.  The third day of new beginnings, so I’m told, and new attitudes… challenges and new goals……new everything.  But I have our washing machine running this morning and it’s reminding me that the sameness of life also continues despite my desire to work up some enthusiasm for newness.  Aaron had a seizure last night and so once again I am washing his bedding from the mattress pad up to the top layer…..his favorite cheetah blanket, or whatever animal it represents.  I’m not complaining at all.  It’s our life and I’m thankful that I’m here to be a part of it, and to care for Aaron.  It’s certainly not new.

Aaron doesn’t care for new, unless it’s a new video or a new bag of candy.  He doesn’t like new routines or new schedules, and he doesn’t like the people or the holidays that cause a disruption to his sameness.  On Thanksgiving Day, Aaron came into the kitchen while I was preparing our meal.  He asked when we would be eating.  I told him it would probably be around 2:00.  He stared at me for a few seconds and then said, “That’s why I was thinking if I could eat lunch.”  I didn’t have to look at the clock to know that it was nearly 12:00 and to Aaron, 12:00 means lunch……Thanksgiving Day or not.  He did agree to wait for his meal, but he did give remaining in his routine his best effort as well.

We try not to give in to Aaron’s routine oriented way of viewing the world when there are special days or events to consider.  We give it our best effort in order to include Aaron in our family traditions and our special times together.  Yet we know that at times it’s not only difficult but nearly impossible for Aaron to comfortably enter into our celebrations together as a family.  The complexities of his autistic world, at times, will simply not allow him to move beyond a certain point.  There are several reasons for this dilemma that he…..and we……face during the holidays.

One reason revolves around conversation.  Aaron doesn’t understand and is rarely able to enter into the normal ebb and flow of family conversation.  Andrea and Andrew both came home for Christmas on Christmas Eve.  We sat around the table and talked that evening, and all of us noticed Aaron.  He had moved to one end of the table.  His eyes darted back and forth between us as we talked.  We were catching up with Andrea and Andrew……their lives…….their jobs……their friends.   Soon Aaron would loudly interject with his “Hey!!”  And we would all look to him as we gave him an opening to talk, but he often didn’t quite know what to do with this opportunity to enter into our flow of talk.  So he would pause and then he would continue.  “Uh…..well…..did you know that my favorite character on Phantom of the Opera is the Phantom?!” 

His comment didn’t fit at all into what the rest of us were discussing, but we’re used to this with Aaron, so we all commented in some way.  We really tried to act as interested in what he was saying as we did with the rest of our conversation, but sometimes it’s hard.  And if you give Aaron an inch, he’ll take a few dozen miles and he’ll talk until the rest of us are…….honestly……..bored beyond words.  So after we all responded to Aaron, we would pick up our conversation where we had left off and once again Aaron would sit there with darting eyes and bated breath, waiting for his next opportunity.  “Hey!!”  And we waited.  “Uh…..well……did you know that there’s a Queen alien?  Is she bigger than the other aliens?  Why do you think there’s a Queen alien?”  So then it’s our turn to say, “Uh….well…..we didn’t know that, Aaron.”  Come on.  Show interest……show enthusiasm for Queen aliens and for Phantoms and for whatever else Aaron chooses to talk about, we’re all telling ourselves. 

Another reason that Aaron gets stuck during the holidays in his point of no return is the change in his routine.  Everything is messed up.  His meal times……watching Wheel of Fortune with Mom…..bedtime rituals, especially if Mom doesn’t come right away to say goodnight……playing SkipBo……..having his bathroom to himself……and so much more.  His brain is soon on overload, no matter how Gary and I try to maintain his sense of normalcy. 

The third reason for Aaron’s holiday struggles……and probably the straw that breaks the camel’s back……is having to share his time and space with others.  Aaron has gotten used to being the only “child” at home now.  He is doing better with having Andrea and Andrew come for visits…..probably because he knows he can talk and talk to someone other than Mom and Dad.  We weren’t sure how he would react to Megan, Andrew’s girlfriend, being here again this year.  Megan arrived the day after Christmas.  I was a little nervous, but I greatly relaxed as we all stood in the kitchen chatting and I noticed that Aaron was happily talking.  Soon I had him tell Megan about his movie of the moment…..Phantom of the Opera……which fortunately is one of Megan’s favorites.  Aaron loved feeling included as all eyes focused on him, and he really enjoyed our interest in hearing him sing his favorite Phantom of the Opera song.  He’s hilarious when he sings and we all laughed with him as he relished being the star.

And then I goofed.  Aaron had returned to his room, so I asked Andrew to go up and tell Aaron that it was time to eat.  There are reasons that this wasn’t a good idea, but suffice it to say that Aaron from that point forward began to do down the path of frustration and anger.  He wanted me to come get him for dinner, for one thing, and though we roll our eyes at that, it was this important to Aaron.  His nearly overloaded system was beginning to crack under the holiday strain.  He was rude to Andrew during lunch and we knew then that we were facing an uphill battle.  When we later opened presents from Megan, Aaron sat with his back to Megan and Andrew.  He was edgy still. 

Then off we went to walk through Botanica and see the Christmas lights.  It was cold and we all bundled up, and piled in the van……including Aaron.  I let him have his favorite, normal passenger seat, beside Gary.  And wonderful Gary walked beside Aaron and kept defusing him the whole way through Botanica.  You can see in the pictures that Aaron is NOT seen.  When he’s in this frame of mind, you can forget pictures.  They only make him angrier.  We were way down that frustration path at this point.

We got home and I was hurriedly taking off my coat, getting ready to set out all the snack foods to enjoy while we played our Christmas games.  Aaron knew he was welcome to stay downstairs and play the games with us, but Aaron detests this part of Christmas.  He doesn’t like the silliness and the loud laughter… all!  And in the mood he was already in, we knew he wouldn’t want to stay.  So as I removed my coat, Aaron turned to me and loudly said, “Mom, I wish Andrea and Andrew and Megan would just leave, and that I could have things normal again!”

Embarrassing, yes…….especially because Megan is still new to all this and we so wanted her to feel welcome.  Thankfully she’s kind and understanding.  You must be in these situations with Aaron.  But Aaron’s comment was also telling as he revealed, in his blunt way, that he wanted his normal life back.  The night went downhill from there, if that was possible.  The five of us totally enjoyed the games, but we were often interrupted by Aaron’s heavy footsteps on the stairs and the floor as he came down to check things out.  He really wanted to enter in, I believe, but he didn’t know how to comfortably do that.  At one point, he looked at the container full of wrapped Bingo gifts and he softly asked if he could have one.  That made us sad.  Of course, we let him unwrap one and he was happy to get a Wal-Mart gift card.  Then off he went to stew in his anger some more.

Aaron and I eventually ended up in my bedroom, where he talked angrily about how we only love Andrea and Andrew, and only want to talk to them….and to Megan.  He cried for a long time, a sure sign of deep frustration.  My heart hurt for him as I tried to comfort and assure him of our love.  I really believe that Aaron senses a difference in how we talk…..our inflections and our words……when we talk to him compared to the others.  Try as we might, we can’t manufacture the same interest in his comments compared to theirs.    Aaron is perceptive……so perceptive. 

I also know that he needs repercussions for poor behavior, so I took the movie away that Andrew got him for Christmas, as well as the lap desk from Megan.  Finally Aaron came downstairs, face and eyes red from crying, and he gave a semi-apology to them.  I helped him into bed, but it wasn’t long before we heard him coming back downstairs.  He walked into the room where we sat, tensely waiting for another outburst.  But in his hand he carried his Ghostbusters movie, which he thrust toward Andrew.  “Hey Andrew!” he enthusiastically said.  “Have you seen this movie?”  And Andrew, with equal enthusiasm, said that he had and then he said, “Who you gonna call?”  Aaron laughed and took the movie back upstairs…..and we knew that his crisis was over and all was well once again.

The next morning, Aaron wanted to give some of his crescent rolls to Megan and Andrew for breakfast.  And when they left for a couple days, and returned to see us again, Aaron was fine with that.  I wish this scenario wouldn’t be repeated next year, but I’m realistic enough……we all are… know that it very well might be.  I returned Aaron’s movie and lap desk from Andrew and Megan to him, hoping that he understood the consequences of poor behavior and the reward of good behavior.  We always hope that Aaron will understand and that things will click in his brain, but his brain isn’t like ours at all.

So we do our best to understand Aaron, and to love him in all his unique and often frustrating ways.  Like Andrea said to Megan on the night I was upstairs with Aaron, as they cleaned the kitchen…..”So now you see what it’s like to be a part of our family.”

Yes, it’s not easy to be a part of this family sometimes.  Sometimes I think…..AUTISM RULES.   But then I realize that only one thing really rules.  LOVE RULES!!  We don’t necessarily love autism, but we all love Aaron.  We seek to understand autism, and therefore better understand Aaron.  I see growth in all of us that has occurred over the years.  It’s the growth based on our experiences with Aaron, and growth based on knowing that Aaron may improve in some areas, but he will never be totally like the rest of us. 

We may feel beat up and tired and angry ourselves, but we must remember that love rules over all.  God’s love for all of us, and our love for each other and for Aaron, will remain firm during these rough spells.  There’s nothing new about that, even in this new year. 

What a long post!  I have laundry to put in the dryer, and much more to wash.

With love. 



Glittery Moments


My day yesterday, Sunday, began at 4:12….to be precise, like Aaron.  Aaron had a seizure for the second early Sunday in a row.  Then he had another at 5:45, so I just stayed up then, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep.  This is a very busy, tiring time for everyone.  To start my day off so physically tired wasn’t what I had planned, but as usual my thoughts went to Aaron and how awful he was going to feel when he woke up.


I heard him upstairs through the baby monitor later in the morning, stirring and stretching and then getting out of bed.  I knew that he was marking his wake-up time in his notebook that he uses to record all that important information about his life.  Later he slowly made his way down the stairs.  I noticed that he had on a different pair of pajamas than he had worn to bed, and I knew right away what had happened.  I went up to his room after he and I talked for a minute to gather up his wet linens…..all of them, including his waterproof mattress pad.  Poor Aaron.  Such hard seizures take a toll on him, and can be embarrassing as well.


So the day began in earnest with mounds of laundry and mounds of Christmas preparations and plans to accomplish.  I was thankful for the time that day to prep and plan, but as the day wore on I was very aware of my fatigue…..fatigue that was probably only going to increase as the week continued.


That evening, as I finally cleaned off the kitchen table to some degree, I was looking forward to a little time to chill out.  Catch up on Facebook, look at emails, read the news…..   But of course, I wasn’t downstairs very long before Aaron came thumping down the stairs.  First he talked to Gary about the movie he had finished watching today, and then the current movie he was now watching.  Soon he came to me at my computer, and began the same recitation.  Gary and I finally had to tell him that movie talk needed to stop.  We were depleted when it came to his long movie reviews and endless questions.


I had told Aaron earlier that maybe we could play a game of SkipBo……emphasis on MAYBE.  As Aaron left me at my computer, the last thing I really wanted to do was to drag myself back upstairs and play a game of cards with Aaron.  I was tired.  And I was very weary of listening to all the movie talk.  But we hadn’t played SkipBo in a while.  This time of year takes much of the fun time away.  I felt badly for Aaron, who asks me every single night of his life to let him know if we can “do something, like SkipBo …..”


It was around 9:30 when I went upstairs and asked Aaron if he wanted to play a game of SkipBo.  He was very happy to hear me ask that question, so while he took his pills I shuffled the cards.  We had a normal game, with me having to monitor Aaron’s every move in case he cheated and with Aaron thinking he had to monitor my texting with Andrea.  I could feel my nerves getting a little more worn.  Of all nights to have a slow game, this was not the night!  But was it ever a slow game!  Where were all the 3’s?!  I was getting irritated for sure.


Finally the game was over!  I wasn’t nearly as happy about winning as I was happy that I could go to bed at last……after turning off all the Christmas lights, fixing the coffee pot, helping Aaron get his bed all perfectly ready, and listening to his non-stop chatter.  Ugh!  All these thoughts were going through my mind as I put the cards back in their box.  I looked up then to see Aaron sitting very still across the table from me, peering down at something on the table.


“Mom?” he asked.  “What’s this?”  I thought he was pointing to a little indention on our distressed kitchen table that’s become much more distressed under Aaron’s attention.  I brushed him off with a quick “I don’t know.  It’s just a little dot.   A little mark.”


Aaron wasn’t deterred.  “No,” he said.  “It’s sparkling.”


And I knew then what “it” was.  “It” was a tiny little piece of glitter from all the wrapping paper and glittery tissue paper I had used that day.  Of course, Aaron noticed this miniscule piece of glitter that to most of us would have gone totally unseen.  Or seen, but not cared about.


Not so with Aaron.  He was intrigued by the tiny sparkle that caught his eye.  He knew that it was worth exploring, so he did.  Furthermore, he hoped that I would do the same.  I was headed to the coffee pot when I stopped and turned around.  There sat Aaron, pointing to the itty bitty glitter, and I was drawn to that scene as I stood there for a few seconds.  I smiled as I realized that I should not miss this moment.  So I walked back over to the table, and I bent over the little glitter particle with Aaron.  We both smiled as we noticed the glitter’s tiny shimmer.  I realized that this glitter wasn’t round, but that it had definite sides.  I counted six sides, and so Aaron and I talked about the fact that this glitter piece was in reality a hexagon.  It was pretty and sparkly and more complex than either of us realized until we took the time to look at it carefully.


All day today I’ve been thinking about that glitter moment with Aaron, and what I would have missed had I dismissed his interest in favor of a coffee pot to fix and Christmas lights to unplug.  I would have missed a sweet moment with Aaron……a time of simple sharing…….a smile……a discovery.


At this time of year, especially, but at any time of year, I need to often remind myself to stop my fussing and flittering……and to take some time to see what Aaron sees.  Take some time to see who Aaron IS.  See the world through his eyes, with all its complexity and its beauty.


And to apply this lesson to so many other areas of my life as well.  Stop to see what’s around me that’s not so obvious, lest I miss out on some real beauty and some sweet moments.  Don’t let my schedule or my tiredness rob me of discovering some sweet moments with those I love…..or with those whom I need to know better…..or with those that I can help.


Coffee pots and other chores will always be there.  Glitter has a way of blowing in the wind and never being seen again.  I need to treasure it while I can……with Aaron, of course.


Peace Among the Bumps

Today was the day for Aaron’s scheduled MRI, a test being done because of a change in his seizures and the additional worry of an annoying Parkinson’s-like tremor in his right hand.  Aaron, thankfully, has never minded medical tests or doctor visits of any kind, so today he woke up happy and ready to go to his appointment.  Of course, we all know that these appointments are just a side trip to Aaron.  The real purpose that he is going, in his mind, is our restaurant of choice for lunch, and the trip to Wal-Mart or some other fun store that also awaits.  Therefore, on this day, his brain MRI was a bump in the road on his way to his true destination.

He came in my bathroom to check on my hair and make-up progress.  He had showered, dressed, and enjoyed his coffee.  He knew that we would leave around 10:00, so he was trying to busy himself with a movie or a game in his room……until he remembered that Mom sometimes needs hurrying, no matter how many times she says that she does NOT need another hurry-up reminder.

As he stood there watching my progress…..or lack thereof, in his opinion……I told him that if it worked out, we would get his hair cut on the way to his MRI.  IF it worked out, I repeated…..and then I progressed through the usual disclaimer list.  IF I could get ready in time (which he seriously doubted)…..IF Aaron was ready (and he let me know that he was!)…….IF Great Clips wasn’t crowded. 

“I know, I know,” he exclaimed as he left the bathroom.  But in no time at all he was back again….standing there staring at me as I fixed my face, as if his staring could or would hurry me forward. 

Finally, as he turned to walk away, he said, “Tell me when you’re ready…..are you about ready?”  He barely took a breath between the statement and the question.  I laughed and told him, “NO!  I am NOT about ready!”…..and he knew it was time to leave Mom to her face, all by herself.

Finally, I WAS ready and so out the door we went.  I had checked Aaron in online and when we got there, he was taken right away to a booth.  Most of the girls there know Aaron by now.  He’s pretty unforgettable after one exposure, trust me.  As he sat down, he immediately launched into what movie he was currently watching.  Godzilla!!  Loud talk ensued about giant lizards and triceratops and saving the world and wanting to know if she had watched the new Godzilla yet.

She asked Aaron if he was ready for Christmas and he loudly replied, “MOM?  Are we?”  And I said we were close.  Then he told her that his brother and sister were coming over for Christmas.  She asked if they live far away, and he said that his sister lives in Texas and…..”MOM?  Where does Andrew live?”  So I answered, and was aware that everyone in Great Clips was learning a lot about us.  She asked him if his hair looked the way he wanted it.  “MOM?  Does it?”  Oh dear.

And then came her innocent question.  “So Aaron, what are you doing when you leave here?”

And very matter-of-factly he answered her.  “I’m going to the hospital to get an MRI.”

The words seemed to hang thick in the air.  He wasn’t talking Godzilla, or eating out, or shopping, or Christmas at that point.  I wondered if she was sorry she had asked him this question, but how could she have known?  And good old Aaron wasn’t the least bit fazed by his answer.  He told her he was getting an MRI as casually as he had told her that he was watching Godzilla. 

So I tried to not let my thoughts faze me, either.  My thoughts were how normal Aaron made it sound that he was going to the hospital for an MRI… casual he seemed about it…..because he really is casual about it.  He’s not worried or alarmed at all.  He’s not sad or embarrassed.  And I know I must not be either…..for his sake as well as my own.

Yes, I sat there wishing that Aaron could have answered her question on this day with nothing more than something normal and fun to be doing after his hair cut.  I’m going to a movie……or I’m going Christmas shopping……or I’m going out with my friends.  Yes, I was going to make sure that Aaron had some fun to look forward to today.  But first….the MRI.

The hair dresser told Aaron she hoped it went well, and as we checked out I made a comment about how the doctor was looking to see if Aaron had a brain.  Aaron laughed and everyone laughed, and we walked out the door with Aaron off on his next subject.

But on the drive to the hospital, my thoughts were back there at Great Clips and my heart was a little heavy.  Then there it was……playing on our Christmas CD…..Amy Grant singing “Silent Night.”  The song that somehow always reminds me of my dad and that always tugs at my heart was not the song I was sure I wanted to hear right then.  I blinked back tears.

            Silent Night, Holy Night

            All is calm, all is bright…..

Sometimes all is not calm.  Sometimes all is not bright. 

            Round yon virgin, mother and child.

            Holy infant so tender and mild……

But I knew then, as I have been greatly reminded over the past few days, that the coming of this holy infant Jesus makes everything in my heart calm and bright.  His coming makes everything right.  Not easy, but right and well.  Calm and bright, because of the hope that He gives.

            Sleep in heavenly peace,

            Sleep in heavenly peace.

Peace that only Jesus can give, because He did come on that silent and holy night long ago. 

And there on busy Kellogg Drive with traffic on both sides and Aaron chattering away happily beside me, I was seriously filled with peace.  We still had the MRI ahead; Aaron still has his special issues; life may still seem unfair to some.  But there is peace, more than I have sensed in a long time. 

I see, more than I believe I ever have, what the coming of Jesus means to me personally and to this world.  Peace in the midst of fear… the midst of pain… the midst of frustration.  Peace that’s unexplainable except as I look at that little infant Jesus. 

“Come on, Aaron!” I said as we got out of the car in the hospital parking lot.  Let’s get this bump-in-the-road over with and go have some real fun!   

The First Snow


The first thing I did when I got up this morning was to look out the window to see if we had gotten any of the possible snow that has been talked about over the past few days.  If you look hard, like between the cracks of our brick walkway out back, or on our roof, you can see a little faint dusting of snow.  It’s just a tiny bit, but it would have been enough at one time to keep up our old family tradition.


My mind goes back on this cold morning to other cold mornings of my childhood.  I remember how Mom would always be up very early, faithfully fixing breakfast for Dad before he left for his job at the railroad station nearby.  Then she would do the same for us, getting five breakfasts ready for us kids before we left for school……and somehow getting herself ready to head out the door for her own job.


But in the fall or early winter, there was often one magical morning that we would wake up to the sound of Christmas music.   Christmas music didn’t start playing at our house full time until after Thanksgiving.  One holiday at a time, please, in the King household.  However, there was one moment that Christmas music was played before the allowed time…….one day that it was perfectly fine to hear the early strains of We Wish You a Merry Christmas.


That time was on the occasion of the very first snowfall.  It didn’t matter if the first snowflakes fell in October.  If there was a bit of snow falling from the sky, Mom would put on a Christmas record……and if it was in the morning, we would wake up to the sounds of Christmas in the house.  And we knew…..we knew without even getting out of bed……that there was snow on the ground.  Of course, we would rush to the windows to see if there was enough to allow us to stay home from school, but there rarely was.


Mom and Dad loved snow.  Even when we all moved away from home, there was that one special day that our phone would ring and when we answered we would only hear a Christmas song being played.  None of us would have to guess or wonder what that was about.  We knew!  It was Mom and Dad announcing with delight that they had gotten the first snowfall of the season.  We all had a little contest going, hoping that we would beat them to the punch and be the one to call first with that Christmas music playing loudly, holding the phone up to the speakers so that they could clearly hear it.   Then we would put the phone to our ear and hear them say, “You got snow?!”  Yes, we got snow and it’s so beautiful, and on and on we would go…..laughing as if this was the greatest day ever.  And it was, in a sense, for Mom and Dad passed their love of snow on to all five of us children……and it was simple and sweet and so much fun to share that first snowfall of the season tradition over the years.


But it makes me a little sad this morning to know that I can’t call Mom to share my first little snowfall with her.  Well, I could call her…..but she would wonder who I am…..and why am I playing that music to her……and just what is that song, anyway?  Mom has Alzheimer’s and she doesn’t remember our old family tradition.  She doesn’t even remember our family.  So a phone call like that would only frustrate and confuse her, and would be upsetting to me as well.


I’m thankful for the sweet memories, though.  For the special traditions that our family had, as all families do.  I’m thankful that during the time Dad was dying of cancer, God allowed him to enjoy lots of snow during that November.  I remember him sitting in his wheel chair at their sliding glass doors, watching the snow and enjoying the hungry birds crowding their bird feeders on the deck.  Thankful that he got to see the beautiful Christmas tree all decorated the way he loved and listen to the pretty Christmas music.


It makes me realize how much we need to cherish our families and our times together, for it all goes by so quickly.  We live together for such a very short time before everyone scatters.  Brothers, sisters, children… here and there in this busy world.  So build the bonds of family strong while the children are young……develop the traditions…..and stay in touch over the years.


Merry Christmas, everyone!  It’s a little early, but there IS some snow on the ground.  If you look real hard, you can see it.  But it’s enough.