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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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

 

Before It All Changed

When we are young and carefree, it’s hard to imagine how life can turn, change and suddenly be something unimaginable.  We all have ideas, or scenarios when we are young, how our life will play out. Those wild unimaginable scenarios don’t ever cross our mind.  I planned, when I was young, to grow up, get married have a family. I didn’t plan on a child with Autism.   I have a friend whose husband is a quadriplegic, due to an accident, and know that wasn’t anything they planned for.

Just recently my friend was sharing some old photos, many of her husband, and it struck me, that at the time of those photos, they were living life, young and carefree, before it all changed.  Right until the moment of his accident,  and maybe in those first moments after, I would bet, they never thought  their life would be anything other than what they planned.

Like a game of pool, you line up the shot, 8 ball corner pocket,  you set your sights, pull back the cue stick,  take your best shot.  Everything is perfect, until that  8 ball hits slightly to the left of the pocket, ricochet’s  off and lands somewhere you didn’t plan.  You know you are still in the game, but the game is different now.  How do you go from being a young couple with a son, with nothing but the typical life issues, to a young couple with a son and now quadriplegic?  Talk about a major life changing event!  Everything in your world changes from that moment.  Your life, the family’s life, your dreams and what used to be your normal.  All changed.

Now there is a new world to learn, one that has immense challenges.  The basic act of getting dressed, eating sleeping, bathing, all those things taken for granted just moments ago, before it all changed. It’s not fair, or easy or anything you would wish on anyone, but it is now your world.   So what do you do?  You do what needs to be done, you learn all about your new world and move on.

It takes great strength and commitment to face these challenges and not give up.  Not give up on yourself or the person now in a wheelchair.  To stand united in this new challenge and continue to be happy.   I see pictures of  my friend before it changed, the smiles the happy times, the love that is there. I see pictures now of my friend, and see that same smile and love that is still there.  I can guarantee it’s been a struggle for all of them, but it says a lot to me that they have faced this challenge and haven’t given up.

Life can be a challenge, and all the plans we make can change in an instant.  No one plans for a catastrophic life changing event, it is too unimaginable.  To do so, would make for a rather negative existence.  Like most people, we go along, making our plans thinking all will be fine.  For those that have had life challenges,  whether they be physical or not, it can be so easy to fall into “what could have been, or should have been ” before it all changed.  I admire your strength to move forward.

Make A Plan

“Make a plan”,  my husband tells me that all the time.  I try, I really do, but  he’s so much better at it.  I can get one started but I am so indecisive, and I procrastinate, that he just takes over and finishes the plans.  That isn’t always a bad thing either.  It’s not that he does it all, it really ends up a collaborative effort.

A few years back we were planning a cross-country trip in our RV, talk about a collaborative effort! It took many nights of pouring over maps and searching for places to stop on the way.  The only thing that was a certain, was that we needed to be in Michigan for my husbands parents anniversary/birthday party.  His parents were both turning 90 years old and it was their 65th wedding anniversary.

Coming from California, we have a couple of route choices, each with their own positive and negative aspects.  Not only was it the route to get to Michigan that needed to be decided, but the entire trip.  How long would we go, what else would we see, where would we go? And so the planning began.

We had one month for our trip .We chose to start on what is known as “The Loneliest road”, highway 50.  We would than go to Mt Rushmore, and on to Michigan. After the family party we would head to Niagara Falls, and New York city.  We planned to go to Washington DC, but when we heard our son’s friend was playing baseball that summer for the Cape Cod League, the plan changed, and we went to watch him instead.   A decision that turned out to be a true slice of all American fun.

The route home was a bit more direct, with a stop in Kansas to see the Wizard of Oz museum, than pretty much straight home.  All in all a lot of driving, tons of fun, a couple mishaps, that we fondly recall as “adventures” now.  But to be sure, one of the best trips we have taken to date.

What has become most important for me, for us, is that we had a plan.  Everything seems to come down to having a plan.  When my husband and I got married, we had a plan.  From the music played before, during and after the ceremony, to our vows, we had a plan.  For our life, after that ceremony, we have had a plan.  I admit, some of our plans have gone  awry, but we have adjusted, and are actually ahead of ourself and our plan. Countless nights have been spent pouring over bills and maps and music and  forms, making choices and putting it all into the current plan.

I believe that, as a family, we have made plans, shared our points of view, and though it may seem a bit lopsided at times, we have worked as a team.  While no plan is without its share of pitfalls,  we have weathered those adversities and are still hanging in there.  Each one of us has contributed, and I marvel at all we have accomplished so far.

My Mother’s Hands

I looked at my mothers hands the other day, and it struck me how much life I saw in them.  I marvel at those hands and recall all the strength and tenderness they have shown throughout the years.

When I was about 10 years old I had long hair, and I remember my mother brushing it into pony tails. She would quickly and softly brush it out and put the rubber bands in.  Also those summer days when I would come home from a day full of swimming and she would carefully untangle those same rubber bands, and brush out my now swimmers green hair.

Those summer evenings spent in the yard playing, watching as my mother would pull weeds out from among the patch of daisies that grew in the beds.  A tug here, a scrape there, the weed came out and the daisies bloomed.

Day after day my mother would fix our lunches for school. An assembly line of sandwiches, fruit and maybe a cookie, lovingly placed in a brown paper lunch bag for each of us.  Maybe not glamorous or our favorite, but always something good.

I remember, not long before my grandfather passed away, we were visiting and had tickets to a play. Because he was not well, he wasn’t going with us   I watched  as my mother took her father’s hands in hers, gently patted his hand as she spoke to him before we left for the evening.

It’s all those little things, the weeding of the garden the brushing of hair, the gentleness of holding her fathers hands in hers and countless other day-to-day activities.  Little things to be sure, but when I recall those moments in time I smile.  My mother’s hands- such strength, such life.

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