Ty Advances at Four

Not every day is a good day for Ty, it can’t be. It isn’t for any of us. But his life has rolled out different than just about anyone I have ever known.  He came into this world like so many other little boys, naked and screaming.

I can still remember standing at the nursery window with my son and his uncles, my daughter-in-law’s brothers, one being his middle name, Ryan.  As we watched at the window, moments after his birth, his chest was caving in and out as he yelled.  We  could see his rib cage expanding with each scream. We knew the newest member of our family was going to be a strong contributor who would make his presence known.   Little did we know, at the time, he would be so silent.

I had never known anyone autistic. My children were both fairly normal. I guess a better term for them is children with no special needs. I still can’t say I know how it feels to be a parent to a special needs child, only to being a grandmother to one.  I am a strong supporter to my children, and am now very cognizant of this topic and very supportive of the cause. I wish had been more in tune sooner. I waited till it was a reality for our family and only then became informed.  I took the same road with cancer.

 I think we are all like that somewhat.  Only when we are directly touched do we step up to the issues that seem insurmountable and take them on headfirst.  Sad though that we tend to wait to get involved when our involvement, confronting issues, helps things change.  We need to be more proactive as a society and as Christians.

Ty has only been around for four short years.  In that time frame, he has shown me that
every day that goes by there are signs of hope.  His growth, over the years, astounds me. He has gone from being a reclusive boy who never smiled to what you will see in the video. He is coming out of his shell. He is learning to interact with the world and with people.  He is a reminder that people can change, minds can be touched even when it involves neurology that we don’t completely understand. Given enough energy, love, repetition and support, battles can be won and Ty is winning them.

I still don’t understand why him. Why my grandson had to be chosen to have autism.  I no longer question God over this and no longer pray for it to go away overnight. I believe he will continue to fight his way over the hurdles. I know God has Ty in his sight, has a plan and Ty is living it.  We are part of that plan, all of us, his family and perhaps all of you, reading and watching this. I wonder what part you play?  He is one small boy but God created him to have an impact.   Little by little he is making strides towards some imaginary finish line to continue a race and continue making advances.

As Ty hit his four year old birthday, we all were amazed looking back at last year’s birthday to see the growth and development from the last 365 days. No longer is he a boy who flees to his own bedroom when company comes over.  He now will interact more with the world than before, is hitting a growth spurt and continues on the learning curve.  

I recently heard my dear Rebekah question herself, “I wonder sometimes in my zest to have him be the best he can be if I push my son into too much therapy.”  I told her, “You are only guilty of loving your son as much as you can possibly can. Amen God gave Ty to you!”


Treasured Little Moments

It seems like so far this year, Jim and I have experienced more than our share of deaths.  We also had to deal with the one year anniversary of my step-son's death. Jim’s only son’s died in March of 2012.  Sometimes it seems like yesterday and other times, it seems like a lifetime ago.

 I wish I had kept one of his voice messages on our recorder  so we could listen to him, every now and then.  Those days when we miss him the most, it'd be nice to hear his voice.   Occasionally, Dan will appear in Jim's dreams. I am somewhat envious as he hears his son calling or talking to him.   I guess that's Dan's way of letting Jim know his spirit is alive and well.  Little moments in the middle of the night, priceless. 

Death should renew our commitment to experience the little things in life more fully.   It is too easy to get caught up in the drama of life and forget to literally smell the coffee, roses  or whatever smell that pleases your senses. 

I heard this song, years ago, by Brad Paisley when it first was released. I thought it was just another love song. Now when I hear it, I realize it is much more than a love song. It is a song about life. It is applicable to us all. 

The song that follows is about living in the moment, the present.  Don't waste time thinking about yesterday or tomorrow; enjoy right now, where you are at, who you are, and who are with.  You are living God's plan, you just may not know it! Rejoice in the day, it will be gone in the blink of an eye.  Be grateful for who you are, God made you the way he wanted you to be.  The little things you have been given are special and are sacred blessings, enjoy them, treasure them.  You are blessed to be here. You will be blessed when you leave. 

My video is simple to this beautiful song.  Simple images.  Simply photos of little moments  of life.  Photo shots that I live for that everyone can relate to if you just switch out the faces in the video for loved ones you know. 

  Take the time to focus on your Little Moments and treasure them. They are indeed what make life beautiful!


The Smell Off Charley


I really thought there was nothing that could ever happen to Charley that would make me want to distance myself from my wonderful four legged friend. I mean, I love my yellow lab unconditionally. It was his charging my chest that helped me locate my tumor in my chest directly leading to a discovery of breast cancer just five short years ago. It saved my life.  He was one of the centers of my life, or so I thought.

That was until two weeks ago. ….

Jim took Charley, our lovable, exuberant household pet for his nightly after-dinner walk. Mind you, this is the same dog that took third place in dog training when all the other dogs failed to show up the day of testing.  If they had bothered to, there is no doubt that he would have tested in last place. I think it is safe to say, ‘Come’ means “Walk this way” and not “Run away from me.” Also, “Stay” does not mean he is allowed to go sniff all the other dogs’ behinds freely and aimlessly.  But this is Charley’s translation. He makes up his whole language and follows it not ours or the trainers! But in spite of those mishaps, all in all, he did amazingly well on command for the test.  Oh there were a few uncalled for barks here and there, but overall, we could not have been prouder.  The other two dogs did distract him some but that is not entirely his fault.  And our trainers could not have been happier to see us leave with Charley in tow.  I guess they just don’t understand big labs that love people as much as we do. 

Jim walked Charley all the way to the end of our street up the hill where one neighbor has bushes lining the entire front yard of his property.  Charley began tugging furiously on the lead.   This was not a true cause for concern.  What dog is not anxious to smell the ground and check out what critters have been there previously.  However, when Jim noticed what he first thought was a cat, and then noticed a distinct pattern of a white stripe running up its back, he pulled on Charley’s lead quite strongly to yank him back out of the bushes.  This was to not alarm Mr. Skunk.

Fumes arose looking a lot like the cloud from Linus’s blanket.  Jim wishfully thought Charley was not nailed too bad by the spray too badly because he had pulled Charley back out of the bushes in time when the smell came but how much had hit the dog, remained to be seen, or should I say, smelled.

As he approached our house with Charley, the smell picked up in intensity. Walking in the front door, it smelled like Mr. Skunk had come along the path with him and walked right in the door making himself at home as Charley’s shadow.   Into the tub went Charley immediately to be scoured.  Jim attempted to hold his breath while bathing as the ventilation in the bathroom is not enough to compensate for the overpowering smell coming off Charley.  He felt even Charley looked queasy off his smell.  He washed Charley multiple times, losing count but doing whatever he could to overpower the horrendous smell.

Jim put a call into me at work so as to notify me that there was not a dead skunk in our garage. He said I would smell one when I pulled in that evening but the smell would actually be coming from our home.  I suppose I should have felt relieve knowing there was no dead animal on our premises but the thought of that smell in the home was not at all inviting!

 When I pulled in the driveway, for some reason, the door was not properly closed all the way and Charley slipped out.  Before I could get a hold of his leash, he was gone. He shot across the subdivision, in the darkness of night, and took off wondering around the encircling farmland.  He was met with yells of “Charley come back” and “You want some cheese?”  And naturally he did what he always does, flat out ignores the pleas to return, preferring to keep us running after him.  Except this time, it was too dark for us to follow.

We were quite worried he would get hit by a car as he is not road savvy but could not do a thing but wait and pray he didn't get hit, did not go far and would wander back home.  We heard dogs in the area making a large racket  Partially, no doubt because a dog was running around free on their property. We were sure also because of his odor! We prayed he would make it home and safe but could not do much but stay on our plan to continue trying to irrigate the smell from our house.  What a horrible night.

Within a half hour, there was a sound at the garage door. I, as of yet, had not been in close proximity of Charley since his encounter with the skunk and somehow knew it was him. Now was my first hello.   I went to the door to let him in, opened it and about fell backward.  Phew, was the smell disgusting!   It was real easy to be upset with him for running away and almost upset he had returned. I suggested to him he go lay down in the farthest corner of the house, far away from me!  And surprisingly, he understood and listened, after downing a water dish in his usual style, drooling half of it over the kitchen floor.

Later that night, he jumped on our bed. To make up for running away, he put his head up by me.  I about gagged.  He had gotten sprayed directly by his head since that was closer to the bushes so it was the most intense area with the smell. Hence, I preferred, if anything, odd as it sounds, his rear-end be facing me. So I did what any woman would do that finds skunk disgusting, I went upstairs to another bedroom, closed the door tightly, lit a strong smelling candle and laid down for a good night sleep! 

Since that time, we have washed Charley with peroxide, tomatoes, and a mixture of baking soda with Dawn and peroxide, mixed with doggie shampoo.  You name the combination and we have tried it. About the time we think the smell might possibly be gone, it rains in middle Tennessee. Doggone it; every time he gets wet, we are confronted with that skunk smell again. They say dogs have incredible noses and can smell smells from far away. I wonder what he thinks of the odor he emits on those days? Does it nauseate him like it does me?   It has helped alleviate my appetite on rainy days for sure! 

I know he feels unloved a lot lately but I can’t help it. I find it hard to love someone so smelly.  It is like an unkempt person with bad personal hygiene.  Only with Charley, this skunk smell is worse.  We have been burning candles like we are having seances in our house. Anyone who wants to donate to the cause, yet we will accept candle donations!   But please do not report us to the local fire department. We do keep Charley’s tail out of reach of the candles burning.

My sister read recently that a skunk smell on a dog can last up to a year.  I pray that this is not the case with Charley.  If it is, I feel certain we are going to be looking for a doggie psychologist to help Charley deal with doggie neglect feelings.  I may love him unconditionally but I will not give him TLC unconditionally if he can’t get back to just smelling like a damn dog!