Blessings in Disguise

Jacob’s Aunt Shellie wrote today’s post.

I was 18 years old when I found out that my nephew, Jacob, was diagnosed with autism. I remember feeling terribly devastated for my sister and her husband, Mike. And, for our entire family. Back then, autism was a foreign word. I had never heard of it and I’m not sure my sister had either. All we knew was that this sweet baby boy wasn’t going to have a normal life. The hopes and dreams that my sister and brother in-law had for their first born son were changed in an instant with a diagnosis that seemed hopeless.

I found this hard to deal with as a young adult. I was scared of the unknown. I didn’t understand autism and I definitely didn’t understand what having a child with autism would be like. I very seldom kept Jacob. Mainly because he was non-verbal and I was terrified of not knowing what he wanted or needed. It was a struggle to have a ‘relationship’ with him because he didn’t show any signs of affection and didn’t make eye contact. I loved Jacob but didn’t really know how to show him or how to love on him.

Over the years, Terri and Mike have had sitters to keep him for them to be able to have a life outside of autism. They had planned a trip to visit their other son, Josh, and his family. When at the last hour they found out their sitter was sick and couldn’t help with Jacob, as planned.

My sister reached out, asking if I would be willing to stay with Jacob that particular weekend. My first thought was ‘oh gosh, I don’t think I can do this’. However, I immediately felt, in my spirit, that God was telling me, yes, I want you to do this. My hesitancy was not because I didn’t want to stay. But, that I was nervous about being responsible for making sure Jacob was happy and felt secure.

One of the characteristics of autism is routine and structure. Jacob doesn’t like crowds, loud noises, and any changes in his everyday life. He can get very upset when he’s frustrated. Being non-verbal, he can’t tell you what he wants. And, frankly, it can be quite scary not knowing what to do when he is upset. I knew I had to be obedient to God leading me to do this and I knew that I could trust God to be with Jacob and me every moment of the weekend.

I arrived at their home and Terri had written out a step by step guide with instructions and great details for any possible scenario. It was meant to, hopefully, provide me an answer to every question and give me the confidence that I’d need to take care of Jacob.

One of the instructions was to make sure I removed Jacob’s sound machine every morning once he woke up. He loved to hide it from his caregivers so he could be entertained as they frantically looked high and low for this machine that he HAD to have to be able to sleep.

On the last day of staying with Jacob, I woke up early and peeked in to check on him. He was fine and content. I made my way to the kitchen to make him breakfast. All of a sudden it hit me! I had not put the sound machine away! I made a mad dash back to Jacob’s room to find him sitting on his bed acting as if nothing had happened.

The missing sound machine was later found in the top of his closet!

But it had ……the sound machine was NO WHERE TO BE FOUND! I panicked looking high and low and everywhere in between to find this valuable object. I knew that my sister would be back that afternoon. Knowing that they would be faced with a search to find where he hid the machine, well, it stressed me out……. I looked and looked and looked some more to no avail.

When Terri and Mike returned home, I had to confess that, indeed, Jacob found the opportunity to hide the machine and it was nowhere to be found! Luckily, they had played that game before and, yes, it is obviously a game to Jacob. He enjoys watching us play hide and seek with whatever he has decided to hide! In his little solemn face behind those deep blue-green eyes, I believe Jacob was laughing! Because he was able to ‘pull one over on us’!

Another part of his daily routine noted in the instructions, was for one or both of his parents to say prayers with him at night. My eyes fill with tears as I recall this special memory with Jacob.

I had gotten him ready for bed and told him it was time to go to sleep. And then crawled in his bed to say a bedtime prayer. Out of the blue, Jacob reached over and grabbed my hand. With tears, I whispered a prayer thanking God for the opportunity he had given me to spend the weekend with Jacob.

You see…… my intention was to help Mike and Terri by keeping Jacob so they could go out of town. But in an instant, I saw clearly that it wasn’t just about staying with Jacob for a few days. God gave me the opportunity to see that although Jacob was born with a disorder called autism, and at times it seems he doesn’t understand or relate to everyday things, he showed me, with a little gesture, that he loved me being there. That he felt comfortable with me staying with him. But more importantly, he showed me that he knew the beauty of the moment….talking to our Heavenly Father, our maker and creator.

This happened over 10 years ago and it will always be one of my most favorite memories of Jacob.

But, I have to share one more blessing that happened this year. Jacob was visiting his grandparent’s house and I went back in his room to tell him hello. As I leaned over to talk to him, he leaned in and kissed me on the lips! THIS absolutely thrilled my soul.

As I stated earlier, at times Jacob doesn’t show emotion and he doesn’t like hugs. Ordinarily, one really doesn’t know if he even knows you are there. But this one time, THIS time, he decided to kiss me! My heart was so blessed!

Thank you Shellie for sharing these unexpected blessings! Your story will bless others.

We Need Love

My heart has been heavy this week. I’m not the only one. So much hurting. So much pain. So much hate. So much apathy. So much violence. So much fear. It’s all too much.

I usually have a couple of posts in the cue waiting to go live. I didn’t this week. I’ve had a lot of projects, a lot of work, a lot of mom tasks. But mainly, I was unmotivated. Seems whatever I said could be construed as focusing on us rather than the state of our country.

Two songs have been playing in my mind. You know this tune:

What the world needs now is love, sweet love
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of
What the world needs now is love, sweet love,
No not just for some but for everyone.
Lord, we don’t need another mountain,
There are mountains and hillsides enough to climb
There are oceans and rivers enough to cross,
Enough to last till the end of time.
What the world needs now is love, sweet love
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of
What the world needs now is love, sweet love,
No, not just for some but for everyone.
Lord, we don’t need another meadow
There are cornfields and wheat fields enough to grow
There are sunbeams and moonbeams enough to shine
Oh listen, lord, if you want to know.
What the world needs now is love, sweet love
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of
What the world needs now is love, sweet love,
No, not just for some but for everyone.
No, not just for some, oh, but just for everyone.

Songwriters: Burt F. Bacharach / Hal David

Oh, how we need love.

The other has simple lyrics but speaks volumes:

Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world
Red, brown, yellow
Black and white
They are precious in His sight
Jesus loves the little children
Of the world
Jesus died for all the children
All the children of the world
Red, brown, yellow
Black and white
They are precious in His sight
Jesus died for all the children
Of the world.
Jesus rose for all the children
All the children of the world
Red, brown, yellow
Black and white
They are precious in His sight
Jesus rose for all the children
Of the world

Songwriters: Donna J. Krieger / George F. Root

Oh, how we have love!

I’m thankful I can count on that! It doesn’t matter who you are and what you’ve done, Jesus loves you and is for you!

Since this blog is about Jacob I’m going to wrap this up with him. Because of autism, I dare say, we have met more people of different races than we would have otherwise. They’ve brought sincere love to our family. They are our family. Their skin is not the same color but their heart beats, breaks, and bleeds like mine. The world, our world is better having them in it. Like a Mama Bear that roars when someone hurts her child. That’s how I feel about these family members. They matter to me. A lot.

We need love and we have it, if we look in the right place. Share the love of God with those around you. He is our greatest need.

Twelve Weeks!

Today marks twelve weeks since Jacob has been home. His day program didn’t close until nine weeks ago. But, I kept him home initially because he was struggling with the time change. And then just knowing he couldn’t abide by social distancing and washing his hands appropriately was reason enough to keep him in.

There’s a reason we don’t know the future. Agree? If someone had said, ‘listen, the state is about to shut down. Schools will close. There’ll be travel restrictions. No movie theaters, eating out, etc.’, would I have kept Jacob home starting the 5th of March? Probably. Though there has never been a time, before, when Jacob was basically home-bound for three months! And in the current situation, we are, for the most part, home-bound with him. There wasn’t really anywhere to go anyway so it worked out fine.

Here’s the deal though, Jacob has been a champion! In the first few weeks, sweet friends would reach out, “how are y’all managing? Is Jacob doing okay?” “I know this is hard, what can we do for y’all?” Jacob was made for this! In the April 9th blog post #stayhomeflattenthecurve, I mentioned how his anti-social temperament is working to his advantage right now. And what helps him, helps us.

What does he do all day everyday? If you’ve followed this blog long, you probably know the answer to that. Keyboard, MP3 player, musical toys, videos, television, snack, eat, and snack some more. Often, I’ll check him on the video monitor and he will be bouncing on his bed! He has been most content. When he is content, so are we.

There have been a few times when I definitely felt like he was tired of us. And, honestly I’ve been tired of him. But 99% of the time, we have gotten along great. In the first month, there was only togetherness. I got out of the house maybe 2 times for a short period of time. Next month a few more times. In these three months, he has seen a sitter twice, his grandparents from a distance, once; taken a neighborhood stroll, and various scenery from rides to get out of the house. No wonder he is tired of us!

Two weeks ago, I hit a wall. I was spent physically and mentally. It was maybe, maybe the third time in 12 weeks that I had the thought, “I’m not sure how much longer I can do this.” I’ve been doing ‘this’ for 4 decades but not under the current guidelines. I had to allow myself a break. Thankfully Mike has been working from home and we can tag team when needed. It feels odd to schedule a best time for me to run an errand so he can watch Jacob, but hey, at least errands are ‘okay’ at this point in the game.

We have so very much to be thankful for in this uncharted territory: 1) we are not alone. All of our family and friends are also learning a new normal. 2) we have everything we need with food to spare. Our jobs look different but we still have tasks to complete and people who rely on us. 3) technology has enabled good ways to connect that help combat feelings of isolation. I am making it a priority to Zoom with friends and FaceTime with family on a weekly basis. Social media has provided platforms for Bible Study, learning, and needed challenges to stretch and grow us. 4) the slower pace has afforded time to finish projects and learn new skills. I can’t rush Jacob no matter how hard I try and now I haven’t had to! 5) my dear fella has been exactly where he is most happy. His own little space surrounded by things that bring him joy and parents who are making the most of this season in our lives.

This week we went riding two days in a row to deliver some sweet treats to friends. Sometimes on these excursions, he is happy just looking out the windows. Sometimes, he requests a DVD to watch. The first day was literally 3 hours making 9 stops. He watched the DVD, SING, through twice even humming along during parts. It was a great outing that he enjoyed from beginning to end.

The second day we needed to finish what we started. I ask if he wanted to go for a ride and he jumped up and headed for the door. That day we had 4 stops to make. About half way through, I saw him do this:

Bless his heart, he was over going for a ride! We made a point the get him burgers and fries (making it a 5th stop) as he had been a really great sport.

All that to say, I might have freaked out if I had known we would be together for 12 weeks, at home, with little outside activity. I am surprised at how well we’ve managed! We’ve just gotten word that his day program is open and ready when we are. Again, not sure how that will work for Jacob, but I am up for whatever the next 12 weeks bring because that sweetheart son of mine has been better than okay.

Strong-Arm

strong-arm (strawng-ahrm)
Adjective
using, involving, or threatening the use of physical force or violence to gain an objective
Verb
to use violent methods upon, assault
to rob by force
to coerce by threats or intimidation, bully

dictionary.com

Once a friend asked if I was afraid Jacob was going to hurt me. A fair question. My answer, “I’m more afraid I’m going to hurt him.”

I clearly remember being in junior high school and not wanting to walk past the special education classroom. I imagine most of you, if you’re honest, would say you had similar feelings, too, at one time or another. They were different from me. I was way more nervous and afraid than I should have been. The not knowing and understanding created uncertainty. Not being around them created unmerited fear.

I KNOW Jacob. I know he isn’t going to rare back and hammer me with his fist. Or throw a chair at me. Yes, he has accidentally hurt me. Once we were practically wrestling trying to get him to stay in the bedroom and go to bed. In the darkness of his room, he reached for me as I was moving toward him and his finger found my eye! I’ll spare you the painful details and not share the creepy picture, but, it hurt like crazy and it looked even worse. Imagine me trying to convince the MEA physician that my adult son had poked me in the eye. And that it was strictly an accident!

I’ve mentioned before about guys and gals that attend his day program being afraid of Jacob. It stings but it is their reality and I definitely get it. He has scared them one too many times by grabbing at them. Not hitting or being aggressive. But it can feel like an attack from a bully and can definitely make anyone uncomfortable.

Jacob isn’t a big fellow. I am continually thankful to God that he isn’t over 6’ tall like his brother. We celebrated when his weight hit 110 pounds. But, no kidding, his strength is deceiving!! Just ask the kind dental staff when he goes for a check up twice a year!!

I have often used the term ‘strong-arming me’ when I’m describing Jacob. Whether it is getting him dressed, shaving his handsome face, brushing his teeth, you name it; he will grab my forearms and lock his and it is really difficult to do a thing! I have had bruises on my arms from the supernatural strength in his fingers. I know. I know. It can’t be that hard to break free. It is. It just is. Remember, I don’t want to turn ninja and hurt him!

One morning I was in his room and sure enough, strong-armed. The TV was on and I don’t know whether it was a news feature or a regular show but it was about a family who had several adopted children with severe physical disabilities. THREE of them had no arms. It was inspiring to see how they had overcome such tremendous hardships. I was convicted right then and there. To be thankful Jacob has arms he can use that serve him well. And that he is strong.

“I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet” .

Helen Keller

Puts things into perspective when you stop and think, right?

I am not afraid of Jacob but am concerned that the reflex of my initial response could injure him. After all, no one wants to have a finger jabbed in their eye. I mainly want to just diffuse a situation to redirect him and make sure neither of us gets hurt.

strong-arm (strông′ärm′)
“Leave me alone.”
“Don’t straighten my shorts!”
“Stop that!”
I don’t want that for breakfast.”
“I’m not ready.”
“Don’t touch me.”

-Jacob Pigford

He uses what he has to communicate and strong-arming is a language we both understand.

Once There Was …

an MP3 player who was well loved and brought great pleasure to its owner. It was loved so constantly and so hard that it couldn’t help but show some wear and tear. And try as it might, it wasn’t strong enough to keep serving it’s master day in and day out.

Because it was this young master’s main source of entertainment, his parents were always on the lookout for the next one. Knowing the day would come when, tragically, the MP3 player would most certainly meet an untimely death.

It’s owner, Jacob, would become very attached and as other things through the years, would struggle a great deal with accepting a replacement. Sometimes even if it was an identical match.

From the moment a new one is placed in his hands, it no longer ‘looks’ new. It will have been taped trying to hold the cover in place. The adapter secured with tape. And, more tape to lock the SC card in it’s slot. Everything taped! And, that’s the first day before it is handed over to our boy.

Often, Jacob will remove a knob and then be extremely frustrated with us when said knob doesn’t perform as before. Or snap the cover off, only to be bewildered when it won’t make music. Even though there is no CD in use, the player will not operate without a cover.

Once a text was received, with this picture, from his sitter:

Yes, it literally looks like the player exploded. Never fear—there was no heat or sparks associated with the damage. It was dropped one too many times and well, you can see the result. The industrious sitter did his best to perform surgery on the player but it was never the same.

I’ve lost count of how many players have been purchased through the years. Whether at a box store, direct website, Ebay, or other online source. Of course, the style he uses, the features that work well for him, are not always easy to find. Like other attachments he’s had that eventually need to be replaced, it gets harder and harder to find what we are looking for. And, like other things, I have a feeling that one day, his focus will shift to a new form of entertainment.

We keep a stash of ‘expired’ MP3 players knowing a spare knob might be needed, or a cover replaced, or perhaps a new handle snapped in until a new one is delivered.

But in the meantime, we will try our best to continue providing the service he expects from Mom and Dad. Time to pull out the next one, tape it up for battle, and go through the adjustment. Even though the player can’t possibly live Happily Ever After, our aim is just that for its master.

Greeting Card Granny

Jacob does love him a greeting card. He likes other mail, too, like flyers and catalogs. Anything colorful and bonus points for a slick finish!

His Granny is his #1 provider of mail. She sends him cards a lot!

It’s funny because he isn’t always ready to open it when I show it to him. He enjoys studying the envelope (ignore my feeble attempt to blur info), her writing, their return address, the color, the stamp. He’ll rotate it to different positions to see what everything looks like upside down. (I suppose that is what he is doing. I really don’t know!)

And then, I’ll find cards in random places around the house. He used this one in re-decorating for Easter. Doesn’t every bunny need a card balanced on it’s head?

Under his bed is a favorite place to ‘keep’ cards handy just in case he wants to read one.

It isn’t unusual to have several on a kitchen counter. And, almost always one or more nearby during a meal. Sometimes, he has to hold one while he is eating. Unfortunately, there was a really cute spring card he received from them a couple of weeks ago that he HAD to have in hand while he ate lasagna. Only problem was with each bite, lasagna got on the card. It was such a mess, I had to toss it. (Sorry Granny!)

With Mother’s Day in a few days, I wanted to focus on one way my Mom has loved Jacob so very well.

Jacob does not seem to keep tabs on where all his cards are at all times. I think he just knows another one is coming!

Cards can share so many sentiments. I don’t know if Jacob is all that interested in the words printed from the manufacturer.

I do know it makes him happy to have a card signed,

One Tough Cookie

Jacob has a high threshold or tolerance for pain. And, it is a blessing. I’ve read you can train yourself to tolerate being uncomfortable. This is not something he learned. As far back as I remember he was a tough cookie.

His brother would start crying before the nurse even walked into the exam room with a shot. Jacob would watch them sticking him. There was a time he was having regular lab work because of a certain medication. He was a champ about being stuck. We were always nervous and each held an arm, in case he jerked, but he always surprised us.

Through his life he’s had some hard knocks. When he was attending a local high school, I got a call from the teacher that Jacob was upset and they weren’t able to console him. He had ridden the bus to school that morning and from the time he entered the building, was noticeably agitated. Flailing around, couldn’t be still, and biting his hands. I hopped in the car to pick him up and agreed, something was definitely wrong. Turns out he had broken his collarbone! Seems he bounced around on the bus and fell at some point. (It was the last time he rode the school bus.) It was one of the most maddening experiences we’ve had with Jacob.

I recall being on the phone with the head of public school transportation wanting an explanation as to why and how. Trying to wrap my mind around a picture that would not form. And crying until there were no more tears, in utter agony, that I’d not find answers.

The doctor devised a odd, tube-like wrap to stabilize Jacob’s arm. It was a really hard, sad time. A memory from then popped in my mind just now: a couple of weeks later, I was talking about it in a group and a fella spoke up and said something like, “it’s a broken collarbone, that’s not a big deal”. Let me tell you, I wanted to choke him! (In his ignorance, he truly had no idea the magnitude of the difficulty we had faced.) It was a HUGE deal coping with a broken bone in a child that had no intention of following doctor’s orders. But seriously, Jacob actually handled it like a trooper. Much, much better than I coped, mentally.

There was another time that I woke him one morning to find significant redness/bruising and scrapes on his arm. It looked like he had gotten his arm hung, maybe under the headboard. Who knows? He didn’t seem bothered, but I was. Just the not knowing and him not being able to explain. I was consumed with the how. Did he have a seizure during the night and fall?

He’ll have bruises that have no explanation. Of course, we all have that happen. But each bruise makes me wonder the cause and how much it hurt. So thankful he’s a tough cookie.

A few years ago the program director met me at our car one afternoon and said she thought something was going on in Jacob’s mouth. That he kept pushing food to one side and drooling some. I wondered if he had a bad mouth ulcer or terrible sore throat. NO. When we got home I got a good look in his mouth and he had ground a hole in a crown. YES. Thankfully his dentist got us in first thing the next morning and we walked out good as new. But, oh how it made me sick that he’d been dealing with that. And, I never saw it when brushing his teeth!

Recently, Jacob was twirling in the kitchen and his feet tangled up. I was standing near him and could see him going down but wasn’t quick enough to completely break his fall. Once upright, I could tell he was hurt. He rushed off to his room, obviously rattled. I slowly undressed him looking for a red mark or any sign of injury. Nothing obvious and within a few minutes, he seemed fine. The next day he was in the kitchen eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and I noticed his finger was purple. I truly thought it was a smudge of jelly. NO! His whole finger was bruised and swollen. What an awful feeling. The night before, I knew he was hurting but couldn’t find where. It was swollen enough I wondered if it was broken, but he would hold my hand and bend it without a grimace. I do believe it was jammed. He never made a sound. By the next day, it looked so much better. Never acted like it bothered him. No joke, he is tough.

In the past, Jacob would bite his hands for multiple reasons. Frustration. Doesn’t feel well. Anger. Upset. Pain. Both hands are scarred from him repeatedly breaking the skin. He hasn’t done that lately but when he does, I know something is really wrong and to pay close attention. Biting his hands, causing himself pain, is one way he communicates. My heart sinks when I see he’s been that upset. Knowing as tough as he is, it’s taken a lot to push him to that point.

If you’re a mom, you know, keenly, the desire to take any pain your children are experiencing and carry it yourself. Dads might do that, too. From my experience, Jacob is much, much tougher than me. I’ll fret and worry and figure and question anything and everything, wishing I could shoulder hurt, in any form, so he doesn’t have to.

The good news is, I don’t have to bear any burden alone. God is there to help me, rescue me, carry me. For my God is greater and stronger and higher above any other. And, He will carry your pain, too.

Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.

Psalm 68:19

Insecurities

I was a young first-time mom. Not teenage young, but young. None of my friends already had little ones. No nieces and nephews to ‘learn’ from. I did some babysitting, but not a lot.

And then we are told Jacob is special needs. Only it wasn’t called that. The report said, ‘severe, profound mental retardation’. And the questioning began. Did I do something? Did we do something? Could anything have been done differently to make sure this didn’t happen again? Question after question after question and then more questions!

I’m going back decades to tell a story about one incident. Mike and I were invited to spend the weekend with friends out of town. Mamaw and Papaw were on board with keeping both boys for three days/two nights. It was a welcomed get-away. We had a great time. Except the part where I spent hours that Saturday in the Six Flags Theme Park infirmary.

I missed them terribly and could not wait to get back. There were no cell phones for FaceTiming or even just a quick midday call.

Upon our return, Josh was happy to see us. Jacob was indifferent. Mamaw proceeded to tell us all the things they had done. And, that Jacob didn’t miss us at all. Or, even seem to realize we were gone.

That. That should have pleased me. Did it? NO. See. I was an insecure mom. It bothered me so much. Crazy, huh? I should have been thrilled that they made it fine, without incident. That Jacob slept well and ate well. Played happily.

Instead. It hit me hard. One of those gut punches that comes out of nowhere. Was I important to him? Why wasn’t he behaving as a typical child? I knew the answer to that but didn’t like it. Did he love his grandparents more than me?

Well over 30 years later, I still remember how crummy that felt. It wasn’t until many years afterwards that I realized I was very insecure. I didn’t know how to be a mom. I know, none of us really do. Just learn as you go! I hadn’t ‘half’ raised a much younger sibling. If anyone questioned why I was doing anything a certain way, I would feel I wasn’t measuring up. Disability does that to you. Makes you wonder if you’ll ever get it right.

I’m an oldest child and have many of those characteristics: motivated, responsible, controlling, perfectionist, confident. You can imagine how feeling like I wasn’t being the perfect mom shattered my psyche. Quickly some of the traits that were natural for me, weren’t possible. Pretty much flew out the window. Everything was out of my control. I often felt like whatever I did wasn’t good enough. Self-imposed pressure.

Fast forward to today. I lost or let go of those insecurities years ago. And not because I felt I had mastered being a super mom. Quite the opposite. I learned that I don’t have to be. A first born raising her first born all the while learning I had everything it takes to be what he needs. Only because I’m equipped by my creator. My heavenly Father who made me who and what I am.

How warped to be sad because Jacob didn’t miss me. He was in a familiar environment. He was being well taken care of by attentive grandparents. They were fantastic. This was never about anything they said but about everything I hoped to hear.

Jacob didn’t cry when we left or smile when we got back. It was such a hard reminder that he was in his own world. A world where he is loved immensely. A world where he has had immeasurable influence on me. Every single day of his life. A world where he can brighten my day, 100 fold, just by straining to see me and making eye contact as I wait to pick him up in the afternoons.

I’m thankful that my insecurities made me stronger and helped provide security for my boy.

Happy Birthday Granddaddy!

Jacob’s granddaddy turned 85 years young a week ago. Jacob was his first grandchild. From experience, I learned that a mom or a dad cannot really know what it’s going to be like to become a grandparent. Holding that grandbaby in your arms, your world changes in ways you never imagined. For the better.

My dad was so pleased and excited to be a granddaddy, and was equally grieved learning Jacob was going to be labeled disabled. The helpless grief that washes over a parent, knowing their own child and grandchild would be faced with life-long challenges.

I think about some of the many things he and Jacob’s granny have done to help us in unexpected ways. A few that stand out are, offering their car when we went to Ochsner Clinic to see a neurologist. Years later, taking the whole family in their RV to the east coast for a communication conference. Another one was that they made sure Jacob had his own bedroom in their country cabin. Those were special to us and gave them great pleasure.

Some other fond memories that come to mind when I think of Jacob and his Granddaddy – .

  • Jacob loves music. And, Granddaddy loves music, but he doesn’t like to sing. Except to Jacob. Isn’t that sweet how that works?!?
  • They both share a LOVE of hot dogs. Cooked on the grill are the best.
  • They are both big fans of Granny’s homemade sour dough bread. Probably tie for the #1 fan spot!
  • Jacob still has and uses the toy box that Granddaddy built when he was little.
  • Granddaddy liked to take the grandchildren riding on his tractor. One of my all-time favorite photos is below. Although you can’t see the tractor, you can see the big smile he had holding his oldest grand on his lap.
  • There was a time Granddaddy had a golf cart and Jacob would go riding with him all around their property and pond. At some point, he upgraded to a fancier one, referred to as the ‘mule’, and sometimes Jacob was up for a spin in it as well.

Such fun things to remember and celebrate.

Unfortunately, celebrating a birthday during the covid-19 pandemic meant we were not going to be together as a family. Though honestly, depending on what everyone has going on, we don’t always get together every birthday.

But, this one was different. As senior adults, they were doing everything they could to stay home and to stay well. They had been isolated for weeks. As much as they’d love company, they (nor we) wanted them to take any chances of being, unknowingly, exposed to the virus.

We decided to surprise him by driving over to wish him Happy Birthday from a distance. We weren’t sure how that would play out for Jacob. We hoped he’d be content to ride over, see his Granny and Granddaddy from a distance, while remaining in the van, and leave for the hour-long return drive home. While Mike and I were visiting with my parents, observing social distance guidelines, Jacob decided to get out of the van. He really wanted to see them better, go in their house, and get all nosy to see what treats he could find (maybe homemade bread or chocolate). Instead, we corralled him back into the van and knew we needed to end our visit. We said our good-byes and waved, while heading out their long winding drive with Jacob twisting to look back.

Jacob’s granddaddy had a good day in spite of the isolation. Each of his grown children made a surprise visit to their home. He saw five of his grandchildren (and their spouses) plus a great granddaughter in the same way. And, got to FaceTime with the others. It was a good birthday leaving both of them with happy smiles and one he’ll remember for a long time. All, without a single hug.

Happy Birthday, again, Granddaddy! Love you so very much! From your favorite, firstborn grandson and his parents.

#stayhomeflattenthecurve

Today marks four weeks since Jacob has not attended his day program. The first two were our choice. Social distancing was to be observed along with consistent hand washing. Two things that seem next to impossible for him. The second two weeks were because his center officially closed. Until further notice.

In the https://problemfreephilosophy.blog/2020/04/02/not-being-able-to-speak/ post, I suggested that he’d been doing really well. He is such a homebody. I wish he were more social, but his anti-social temperament has been working to his (and our) advantage. Some of my friends, with sons and daughters enrolled in the same program, have been telling me they are having a much harder time. Needing to see their pals. Requesting PEOPLE for a birthday present.

Jacob probably misses some of the folks more than I give him credit for. I know he is fond of staff members and goes looking for them to hang out in their offices. But overall, bouncing on his bed just has more appeal!

We were rocking along fine until this past week. For several days he was just off. Unsettled. Dissatisfied. Restless. Demanding. Relentless. Seemed whatever I offered, wasn’t ‘it’. He’d pick a DVD only to decide seconds later he didn’t want that one. Same thing with a meal or snack. Nothing I could do or suggest was acceptable.

I mentioned going outside with me to swing. He immediately headed out the door but before I could even clear the leaves off, he was back inside. More than once, we’d suggest going for a ride. It’s something he usually likes to do. Quickly and adamantly, he’d let us know he wasn’t interested.

Ordinarily, I am long on patience but it was shrinking by the day. I had to ask myself if he was bored. Maybe he didn’t feel good. Perhaps he was missing his routine. Needed a change in scenery. Probably tired of his parents! What clues were out there?

I found myself being frustrated and quick to be negative. I was short with him. I was thinking this is harder than I thought it was going to be. I was, I was, I was……. becoming a person I didn’t like.

One day as I sat mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, I saw where a friend had posted this:
Get up!!
If you are home today, put on your clothes! No PJs!
Wash your sheets!
Turn up the music and dance!!!

And then, I was reading in Psalms and came across these verses: Psalm 30:11-12 (The Message)
You did it: you changed wild lament (moaning)
into whirling dance;
You ripped off my black mourning band
and decked me with wildflowers.
I’m about to burst with song;
I can’t keep quiet about you.
God, my God,
I can’t thank you enough.

Between my friend and God’s word, I knew what I needed to do to get in a better place mentally! Get up. Listen for the music. Spend more time in scripture. Whirl and twirl. Burst into song!

Go ahead. It makes a world of difference. I highly recommend. And, have a feeling you will be smiling!

I made this chalkboard sign a few years ago. Nothing fancy but speaks to a positive attitude each day.

Our middle granddaughter asked me its meaning. Today is a Good Day for a Good Day! Choose to look for the good. The positive. It is there but honestly, sometimes I’m too busy moaning and miss it.

Yesterday, rather than ask Jacob if he wanted to go for a ride, I took a different approach. “Jacob, hop up. Let’s go get in the van. We are going to deliver some happiness.” Without any hesitation he went straight to the garage. We went on a three-hour tour (reminds me of the Gilligan’s Island’s theme song) dropping off goodies to family and friends. And, he thoroughly enjoyed it. Not once did he seem antsy. Not once did he want to watch a DVD. Not once did he try to unbuckle his seat belt. He was content from beginning to end.

When we took the interstate rather than back roads, there were two times that I noticed the jumbo electronic signs said, ESSENTIAL TRAVEL ONLY. Not to make light of those that are on the front lines. With everything we have, we thank you. So many others are essential to their jobs and are required to be out. We are able to work from home. But, I do believe our excursion was essential to our mental health. We came home with more happiness than we delivered!

This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Psalm 118:24