Flat Anthony

Funny thing about kids, they grow up. We have 2 sons that are growing into such fine young men, we  are so proud of both of them. For Mother’s day a few years ago,our oldest gave me a pillowcase with his picture on it. Seems kind of funny, but I love it. I bring it with us when we travel.

We have been an RV family for about 6 years, and in that time we have traveled thousands of miles around the country. We have been from the Pacific to the Atlantic, summer and winter. Some of our favorite memories happened because of a chance to buy an old RV..As a parent, it has been rewarding to know that we have been able to give the gift of travel and love for our country to our boys.

Our oldest son is now 22 and, as a young man starting out, no longer has the time to take off for weeks or months at a time. When we travel now, I feel a sadness that he isn’t able to continue to share in our adventures. Our remedy? We call it Flat Anthony- the pillow with his picture on it.

Flat Anthony comes along with us whenever we travel, and this last trip, well, let’s just say he had some adventures.  How could we not take him along?

We didn’t want him to miss beach combing, or climbing on the rocks, the dune buggy ride, whale watching, 4th of July or the evening campfire watching the ships on the river.

It clearly isn’t the same as having him along with us, and I sometimes feel guilty having fun without him. We are so proud of all his accomplishments, and maybe some day, when he is older with a family of his own, he will remember his youthful trips and want to do the same with his family.

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For Love of Trains part 2

 

As we travel in our Rv, our trips always include some sort of train activity.  It is a given, a necessity for survival when your autistic son lives for all things train.  As we plan our trips we include train rides or visits to train museums to ensure  harmony along the way.  These plans give us locations to see, and something for our son to look forward to, as he puts up with activities he might not otherwise enjoy.

In the small Northern California town of Dunsmuir, there is a small Amtrak stop, and the Union Pacific yard.  We happened to be camping in the area and decided to go to Dunsmuir for lunch and to watch for whatever train might arrive. Andrew brought his small video camera so  he could film the trains.

We parked nearby and headed toward the Amtrak stop. Looking at the schedule, we found that we would not be seeing Amtrak – it makes its pass through town very early morning.  Andrew knew, however, that other trains travel this route all during the day so it was only a matter of time.  As he set up his video camera  we noticed some workers on the other side of the track.  We didn’t have long to wait before the horn of a train could be heard, and the shout from Andrew “here it comes!”

Pulling in to the station was a Union Pacific train.  The train pulled in slowly and stopped at the small station.  As we watched, the 2 workers we had seen on the other side of the track  picked up their bags and headed to the cab. At the same time, the 2 workers that had just arrived on the train, grabbed their bags and climbed out. This  was a simple crew change,  exchange in a normal workday of some train employees. We didn’t speak to the workers but what came next was so kind- an act of generosity that  reminds me there are great people out there.

The new crew climbed in the cab and suddenly one of them leaned out of the cab and called to Andrew to come closer. Andrew walked  closer, and the employee  opened the side cab door and leaned out, handed him a  lantern!  As he handed it to Andrew, he claimed he didn’t need it anymore.   Just like that, this man gave a boy something he always wanted. As quickly as he came out of the cab he went back in, told Andrew to cover his ears, blew the train horn and they were off. Andrew calling for them to drive safely.

We watched as the train disappeared down the track, another day in the life of a train lover..

 

 

 

 

It’s The Small Stuff

We all have those days, the kind that seem to go awry from the beginning. Stress inducing, blood pressure raising rotten days. During those times it can feel impossible to see the positive side. There is always a positive side. Sometimes it is just the smallest of things that can turn around a bad day.

Recently, I came down with a nasty flu bug that had me feeling pretty bad for a week. I did my fair share of whining and wallowing in my misery. Thankfully, my family endured my complaining and I now feel better.

It’s easy to wallow in what is wrong, what is creating the current angst, but in those times, I try to step back and find a positive something. I suppose some may see a positive attitude as being naive, that I am not understanding the gravity of the situation.  Trust me, I understand.

I understand that people suddenly come down with incurable illness. I understand that people have relationships that fall apart. I understand the people commit unspeakable  atrocities against each other for some perceived wrong against them. Yes, I get it.  I don’t however, want to wallow in it.

I would rather laugh at silly jokes told by a 6 year old, or smile after reading that there will be a solar eclipse next summer in the U.S.A.  This is in no way diminishing the importance of some of those events. I think letting the anger and annoyance cloud the big picture, perpetuates the general feeling of anger felt by so many. With that said, I think for tonight, I will sit back, have a cool lemonade and enjoy my new fun socks.  It’s the little things that make us smile and remind us life is about more than the anger, pain and frustration. It’s the little things that make to rest bearable. 13244690_10209210328636016_2136243102944374746_n

 

Just A Note

My office happens to be across the street from the local high school; a fact both convenient ( for me) and potentially embarrassing ( I may show up at lunch and dance in the quad) for my son. There was  the time  I got a call, 10 minutes after school started,  ” this is the school nurse, your son is here, he hurt his shoulder”  A quick run across the street I found  him in pain in the nurses office. Realizing he needed to be seen at the Dr, a quick call to dad to bring the insurance card and off to the Dr he goes. diagnosis broken arm.  Seems the kids all took turns swinging off a post – his turn didn’t turn out so well.

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Sophomore year my son had early morning class and  I would drive him to school, run back home, finish getting ready myself then drive to work.  Fortunately we didn’t live too far and, as a parent, you do what needs to be done. When my son got his license he would ask me if he could use the car at lunch time.  The routine became- drive him to school, when I returned I would park in front of the school and walk across the street to my office leaving the car for him. One day I left a small note on the dash with some money for lunch, and a reminder to turn in the form he forgot.

As the days went on this routine became pretty regular and each day I would leave a note. Simple things: have a great day. I love you. Relax and do your best on today’s test.  Don’t forget to pick me up after work.   I never really knew if he actually read the notes. I would find them later in the side door pocket or the center console.   He never mentioned them. No matter, I kept leaving them.

One morning he drove me to work- he didn’t have early class that day- and as I got out he looked at me and asked ” where’s my note?”   I was surprised. I told him I didn’t think he even noticed them, except for the one’s that had money in them.  No, he said, I love your notes.   Ok, I will remember that.

After a few days it was becoming an issue of finding a piece of paper for the note, and then the note remains.  I happened upon a small notebook at the store and a new routine was born. img132

Each morning I would write the days note and leave it in the car or with the keys. Each morning he would read it.  I didn’t get a lot of feedback then, but I kept on, for over 2 years.  A positive comment, a quote I liked, an apology if needed.  Each day an offering, a connection, an affirmation that I love him.

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My son is now graduated and I no longer leave notes for him.  I miss that.  I do have the notebooks, and on occasion I will take a look. Reminders of how life was, how much I love my son, how proud I am  of him.  What started as a simple note became a very important part of our life.  Well, at least to me.

“The best inheritance a parent can give to his children is a few minutes of their time each day.””

M. Grundler

A.J.B  Ich liebe dich.