Thursday, January 28, 2016

A Friendship Forged By Elevator Rides

When our family moved to Michigan over 14 years ago, one of the very first things we did was join a church. We are blessed to be part of such a great faith community. About a year and a half ago, a gal that I knew, but not really, really well, (Mrs. F) approached us after Mass. She was telling our family how her older daughter had worked over the summer with special needs children. A few days later, she sent me this message:

"Cathy, I don't think I was very eloquent because I hadn't thought out exactly what I wanted to say. But I was thinking about you all summer. I guess what i wanted to tell you was how much I admire you and your husband. Dom is your son and I know you would do anything for him, just as you do for Lauren and your stepson. But still, you are so incredibly patient and loving...and just amazing. You are lucky to have Dom in your life...but Dom is also a very blessed little boy. That is really what I wanted to say."

Wow, I thought she was very eloquent! Such kind and supportive words. For about the past two years, we have used an elevator ride as a "reward" for Dominic behaving well in church. There have been a handful of times where he didn't get a ride because he acted up and he was NOT happy. Looking forward to an elevator ride after church has been a HUGE incentive for him. My husband, Lauren or I used to accompany Dominic, until one day I asked Mrs. F if she would like to ride with him. Now, she is his number one choice for those elevator rides.  She told me recently,

"I'm honored to be someone that Dominic is comfortable with and wants to share his special treat with. He is an awesome young man. I enjoy those elevator rides, too!!"

The definition of a friendship according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary is, "a friendly feeling or attitude - kindness or help given to someone." It has been really cool to watch Mrs. F and Dominic become "buddies." I appreciate the time she has taken to not just to get to know Dominic, but our entire family. We both have kids in college and what a great support she has been to me. Thank you Mrs. F from the bottom of my heart.

Saturday, January 23, 2016


Dominic getting diagnosed with Epilepsy last year by a pediatric neurologist was not anything I could have ever predicted. After hearing from more than person that Autism and seizures going together is not an unusual thing came as a HUGE shock to me. Dominic having the fourth seizure AFTER having the anti-seizure medication increased after the third seizure was very discouraging. When I saw my doctor for a physical in December and I told her that for the past few months prior to the appointment I had felt exhausted all the time even with several hours of sleep a night, she gave me a prescription for an anti-depressant. I was thinking to myself, good grief, I'm not depressed?!?!  I'm just tired!!!  But, I have to say, it's only been a month, and I definitely feel much more "balanced." The constant stress and worrying about whether Dominic was going to have another seizure had really begun to take a toll on me, both mentally and physically. Each of the four seizures have been very different in both the intensity and duration. The neurologist suggested upping the medication again after the fourth seizure and so far, so good! Being a caregiver for special needs children and adults is exhausting and constant. You have a whole different layer of worries. But, you also celebrate every accomplishment no matter how big or small. I feel like breaking out the New Year's Eve horns and marching around my house every day Dominic doesn't have a seizure.

I was having full blown conversations with Lauren when she was 18 months old. I was ecstatic this past Thursday because Dominic told me, "Can I ride the school bus?" Those full, spontaneous and complete sentences are not that easy to come by. Lately at home, Dominic has been "scripting" from old Barney videos. Darn that purple dinosaur!! Potty training Lauren was very easy for the most part. For Dominic, it took seven years. Getting his eye contact for more than 10 seconds is cause for a party! Back in December, we had a gal with Down Syndrome making her First Holy Communion at our Special Needs Mass for the disability ministry. When I was chatting with her mom, I was so excited for her daughter, I could barely contain myself. I told her, "it's almost like it's my daughter making her First Holy Communion!" Yes, that most certainly was a time for celebrating!!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Why I Gave $3.00 to the Man on the Corner

When I first got out of high school, I worked for a handful of years in downtown Washington, DC. I used to see quite a few men and women living on the streets. One morning, coming off the subway and riding the escalator to the street level, I remember very vividly a homeless gentleman saying to me, "do you have a cigarette?" I didn't say anything and kept walking. He started following me down the street shouting, "didn't you HEAR me? I asked you for a cigarette!" I turned around, looked at him and said, "I don't smoke." His personality suddenly changed and he apologized for yelling at me. Since moving here to the Midwest, I rarely see someone holding a sign saying they need money, food or a job. Shortly before Christmas, the hubby was asking me what I wanted for a gift. I told him I already have everything I need. Yesterday, when I was on my way to a meeting for the disability ministry, while waiting at a red light, I saw a gentleman probably about my age, holding up a sign that said, "hungry." I only had $3.00 on me. I thought to myself, I could ignore him, but it was so incredibly frigid yesterday that I rolled down my window and handed the money to him. You would have thought I was giving him a million dollars. He was so grateful. I hope later on in his day, he went down the street and got out of the cold and bought himself a cup of coffee. Who am I to judge whether he was honest or not? My feeling was that if he was standing on a street corner when it was so cold, he wasn't doing it out of choice, but out of  necessity. Maybe he had a small child that needed formula or some diapers. Hard to know. These are the people on the "fringes of society." As I sit in my house this morning writing this post, hearing my heat just click on, I'm extremely grateful and thankful for having food on the table and a roof over my head.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

It Starts the "Conversation"

A t-shirt to me is like a walking "billboard."  It spreads a "message." When Dominic's teacher was ordering "Autism Awareness," shirts a while back, some of my family and friends ordered one.


I especially like the message on the front - "Autism Awareness - Accept - Understand - Love." This morning, I did a quick Internet search of "Funny Autism T-Shirts." While most of them were acceptable, I came across a few I would not consider acceptable, such as, "I Have Autism, What's Your Excuse?" and "Hey, Keep Staring at Me and You Just Might Cure My Autism, Then We Can Work on YOUR Social Skills." Oh, my. Never in a million years would I wear a shirt with those kinds of messages - it immediately puts the other person on the defensive!! When my brother wore his shirt around where he lives, he had someone come up to him and they started talking about Autism, it "started the conversation." Pretty darn cool, don't you think?

Welcome to "Holland"

Have you ever heard of the "Welcome to Holland" story? I had heard of it, but never read it until about a week ago. It is wr...