Off the Mat: Sandwich Generation

Eclipsed

Full moon shines through the camper van window, directly onto my face. I take advantage, risk the click of the door waking my guys. Upon arrival, we’d scoped the lay of the land: bathrooms, camp store, path to the beach. I head toward the latter, no need for a flashlight in the moonlight.

And have the beach to myself, so far as I know. Talk about a once in a lifetime opportunity! I sit. Listen. Think. Stretch some. Breathe. Notice. The movement behind me is my own shadow. I cast a moon shadow. Yes, it followed me, just like in the old song.

Weeks later… Read the rest of this entry »

The Good Life: The Importance of the Journey

The Good Life: A Year of Thoughtful Seasons by Sarah Mattison Buhl

Preparedness Meets Opportunity

My dad arrived at the Hartford airport five days ago from Wisconsin. This is no small thing for a man who abhors spending money and relishes the well-worn comfort of his only home of the past 46 years. Dad is 76, and a true gentle-man from a bygone era. He wears a black fedora when he goes to church or a funeral. He looks a little like Frank Sinatra. What makes his 1,000 mile trip even more herculean is that he cannot speak. A stroke wiped out his ability to write or communicate his thoughts with any of his former eloquence seven years ago, shortly after my mom died. His fate is both lucky and cruel; His intellect is intact, and he still has a head for numbers, but his words are locked in a room for which the key has been lost.  Read the rest of this entry »

Grandpa in the House: A Wheel Coming Full Circle on Celebrating the Holidays

Childhood Memories Impacts A Family’s Festive Season

Around the age of 10, I began to use the holidays as an excuse to bring out my parent’s wedding china from its usual home in the cupboard.

Holidays were the loneliest days of my childhood. I knew from books and movies that families and friends often came together on holidays, seated at large tables, eating homemade meals, sharing time with loved ones from near and far. The festive feel of the season seemed to rely on a change in daily routine and seeing other people.

In my family we saw each other – my mom, my dad and me, the same as any other day. We did eat a special meal, a canned version of traditional menu items, easy to heat up and clean up from. We sat at the same table we always ate at, half of it cluttered with piles of stuff. No attempt at setting the table happened at my house unless I made the attempt myself. Read the rest of this entry »

Grandpa in the House: Defining “Weirdness”

Grandpa is Different.

We all have repetitive behaviors that we do to fill pauses in our day – twirling our hair, cracking our knuckles, tapping our feet, humming the latest pop song. But individuals on the Autism spectrum can do these types of behaviors more often and with more intensity. It’s called stimming.

When does “weird” happen?  I was called this often as a kid.  I dressed badly, was painfully shy, and my hair was a tangled uncombed mop.  My social skills were lacking until my late teenage years.  By then I was spending more time with peers than with my parents.  I learned from my friends how to be less weird.

But when do kids start to identify others as weird?

My son is not there yet.  I love his preschooler’s open mind.  He is completely accepting of others and differences.  It does not occur to him that others are doing something socially wrong by doing whatever comes naturally to them.  It is just what they do.

He has no clue that Grandpa is different from other grandparents.  What differences he can pick up on are based solely on age.  He knows that Grandpa is old, my husband and I are “medium” and he is young.  Grandpa has certain needs because he is old.

Except, Grandpa has always been like this. Read the rest of this entry »

Grandpa in the House: Asperger’s Personality Drives a Collector’s Desire

There’s a Museum in My Mailbox

Mail management becomes a challenge when the collector goes on-line and clicks!

Last weekend was one of those not so fun weekends, the kind taken up by household chores. Or specifically, one household chore: installing our new mailbox. This mailbox is not any old correspondence receptacle. It is the largest approved by the US Postal Service. Its purchase required visits to two big box home improvement stores, hours brainstorming and installing it onto a post it was too big for, and hours digging in the wet dirt on the side of a road. The digging part was my son’s favorite. It was a tad less fun for my husband.

We’d been asking my dad to buy a new mailbox for months. I even sent him a link to it online – twice. My husband assured him that he would install it. I explained that our small town post office was rarely open when I was driving by. My husband reminded him that it would be a huge help to me if he would buy the larger box. He never bought it. So we did. Read the rest of this entry »

Grandpa in the House: Stuck in Intergenerational Traffic

The Family Car: AKA Chauffeuring Dad While My Son is Losing It

Traffic lights- not so much the main issue anymore.

“I wish we did not have to drive so long. Can we turn around, that way, west, and go home?” My four year old is pointing behind us, back towards our house. I am impressed by his sense of direction but my joy in his new found skill is short lived. We have a shopping trip to do. We have been in the car for five minutes and he is already ready to go home. This does not bode well.

I imagine most parents with young children dread the “shopping trip.” Before becoming a parent, I was convinced that the strangers I witnessed dragging their screaming children through a store were doing something wrong. Surely they should not be subjecting their child – or the rest of us shoppers – to such torture. Read the rest of this entry »

Grandpa in the House: Parenting in a Multigenerational Home

Windows to the Past…and When to Close Them

“But the windows…the windows strike a nerve that reaches back decades.”

This past August’s cool autumnal nights resurrected a family dilemma that I had hoped would be delayed at least a month longer – the problem of the open window. I assume I am like many New Englanders in that I like my windows open, at least a crack, until the first frost. Winter is already so long and the idea of saying goodbye to fresh air in August makes me want to weep.  Though honestly, weep is an understatement – it makes me downright furious.

My father, due to his advanced age and to his sensitivity issues, cannot stand being cold.  If a cool night is predicted I will be reminded countless times in my day that the windows need to be shut that evening. I will be given the precise temperature drop to be expected the moment I walk into the kitchen in the morning.  I will be reminded that he cannot shut our windows himself due to his weakening arms. I will passive aggressively ignore these comments in hopes they will stop.  They will not. Read the rest of this entry »

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