Birthday Video for Ty Click here to View
As more and more children get diagnosed with autism, the field opens up to continuedhypothesizes of what causes it and the best ways to treat it. These include the practical to the outrageous. I am astounded by the reactions of the public, in particular by those untouched by the diagnoses directly. And I must admit, frankly I was in that class as of 4 years ago. That was until the advent of my darling grandson Ty Ryan’s diagnosis in 2011. Now, as he celebrates tomorrow his sixth birthday, May 29th, we honor not only his birth but his advances with his therapy.
Herein lies a boy whose parents were told he would never speak. And yet, one day I will never forget, his mother proudly called me to tell me she had placed him in his car seat. As she was driving down the road and dodging traffic, she clearly heard him say Mommy, not once but twice.
This is a boy, who though autistic children are often times incredibly difficult if not impossible to potty train at a reasonable age, has been trained at an appropriate age.
Most autistic children will not make eye contact with strangers. Ty will most definitely do this and in addition to smiling says hello when prompted.
The list goes on and on of accomplishments of this astounding little boy. I think it is due to parents that are steadfast in their devotion to pushing him the extra mile, getting him the best therapists and also getting great therapy. And I also believe he is gifted.
The last but the single most important element in this soon to be six year old’s life is the presence of God. He is surrounded, at all times by Christians, friends that believe in the power of prayer. They believe in prayers for him, his family and for praying for continued progress on his journey. His milestones show that the prayers and faith are working. Also we all know that due diligence and positivity matter.
As a grandmother of one of these very special chosen children of God, please no longer ask me what is wrong with my grandson. Refrain from asking me if my children did something to provoke this condition I find this question offensive actually. God makes things in life happen for a reason. I did nothing to provoke cancer and they did nothing to create the condition of autism. Let us celebrate his life!
Do not look at my grandson with anything but joy. Do not reflect on him sadly. He enjoys his life and so should you. Children pick up on others perceptions of them. It is wrong to label him anything but a child.
If you see me, my children or anyone else struggling to control a smaller child, do not stare, nor be judgmental. Kindly look away. You are not always aware of the child’s condition, what the parameters are.
I recall being at the Zoo Easter Hunt in line to enter the event and my grandson was upset. Everyone in the line was staring at him. This does nothing to aid the situation, not for him or any child for that matter. What is the purpose of staring? It simply embarrasses the child and he is receptive to feelings also. Please don’t embarrass autistic children; they have feelings just like everyone else. Give them their privacy when they are uncomfortable.
I am in awe of the progress Ty has made and of all the hurdles he has climbed. It feels like he is continuing to defy the odds set before him. Please continue to pray that better forms of therapy will arise and more research dollars are funded to continue the effort for this special population. May the next 6 years of young Ty’s life be even better than the first 6!
Your proud beaming Grandma
Birthday Video for Ty Click here to View
Birthday Video for Ty Click here to View
Losing a child is something one never really gets over. When a child is brought into your home, whether is it biologically, through adoption or foster care, it is a full-time 24/7 job. The ultimate goal is trying to make that child turn into the best parts of you. Your hope is that, as they develop, they can bypass some of the mistakes that you made along the way so as not to stumble as much and get quite as many bruises. Unfortunately, many children are resistant to listen and do not appreciate unasked for advice!
It is hard to stand back and watch them fall but life has taught most parents that loving is also letting go. Sure, when they are little, parents can jump right in with both feet. But as they age, more restraint must be used to hold back with intervening. This is one of the hardest parts of parenting and it causes more alienation in relationships than just about anything. Watching children fail is not only hard but hurtful, especially if a parent thinks they could have helped prevent it. But each individual has a right to learn to make those choices, right or wrong, on their own. Those lessons, the hard knock kind, may stick with them the longest.
Being a grandparent is another phase of development for many adults. This is the time in life to let go of the worrisome parts of being a parent and embrace simply the child. The only requirement, so to speak, is loving a child for who they are, where they are and not having to try to contain them much. It is a joyful time as the responsibilities fall to everyone else in their life but the grandparents. It is kind of like being a Disneyland parent in a divorce! Discipline is only needed if they are a threat to themselves or someone else. Other than that, simply stand back and enjoy the life before you in those eyes.
In my husband’s case, he has lost his son prematurely, when his son was only in his thirties. I, for the longest time, had no idea how painful this was, losing your only child ashis son was my stepson. I had gotten to know my stepson as he was an adult. As time has gone by, the pain has become more apparent to me, what it feels like to lose a child that has been an integral part of your life. But seeing that tear in his eye, that comes up without any warning, has been hard. Not knowing how to help him deal with the pain has been particularly difficult for me. But I have seen him learn how to move beyond the pain and once again, embrace his life.
One of the best healers of his pain of the loss of his son was his grandson. Not long after losing his son, my husband lost the ability to see another grandson he cared deeply about also. That served as a secondary blow that set him back one more time just like the death of his son. Very few realized the impact it had on him but it was similar to another death in his life. He loved that child like his own son. But as loving as God is, he provides.
Our other grandson Jake, who lives in the same town we do, Nashville, all the sudden started drawing incredibly close to his grandpa Jim. It was almost spontaneous that this started to occur, with the loss of one grandson in his life the other one stepped right up to the plate and became extremely attached to him.
Jim is so far from Michigan, where his son lived, that he seldom gets to see or hear from his son’s children who both live there. So here comes Jake, with a personality larger than life and the uncanny ability to brighten up even the sourest adult in a room. And yet, he is not as embraceable as some children, preferring to be his own little man, all at the age of 4! Yet, when it comes to his Grandpa Jim, he wants to be held, embraced and yes even loved on. Only God knows what lies ahead for Jake but it is bound to be something everyone will be talking about, in a positive light!And oh, something he will want his Grandpa to be proud of!
Jim and Jake have been developing a special kind of bond, the kind of bond you hear about in a song. Their admiration of each other, for different reasons, is beautiful to see. No one can replace Jim’s lost son nor the grandchildren he doesn’t get to see but his grandson Jake is helping fill a void. There is a light in Jim’s eye, a loss of that tear these days and a lift in his step. Most of this is due to his grandson Jake. God has found a to bring into his life a blessed little boy who gives unconditionally to his grandpa. And in return these isn’t much Jim wouldn’t do for his grandson.
I am always amazed when I see God’s plan rolling out so perfectly. Standing graveside at Jim’s son burial, it didn’t seem that way. Other issues that have arose over the past year certainly didn’t leave either of us feeling blessed either. But we both do believe in the power of prayer. Also, sacrifice pays off in the end.
My husband’s prayer and sacrifices he has made all his life is being rewarded by a little boy named Jake, a gift from God. Someone who expects nothing out of Jim but to be near him and his attention from time to time all wrapped in a little boy! It is something that was amiss in Jim also, a piece of his heart.
With that in mind, I made a video that is a reminder of the joy one child can bring to a parent that has lost their child, to a grandparent who don’t see their grandkids and anyone else who is just hurting due to a miscarriage or some other tragedy. May Jake’s smile and his bond with his Grandpa Jim lighten your load and make it clearly visible that God does send signs you are loved! It just takes believing in a power greater than you. Click for Video of Grandpa Jim & Jake
Some general insights follow from me, things that I have noted during the course of my adult life. Naturally these are merely thoughts, my opinions and they are, yes, like that other thing we all have!.
Just a word of warning to those of you that don’t know it yet but social media stays on social media. And for some folks, that scares the hell out of them. Political careers can and are ruined by this media. Ironic that Bill Clinton served controversy over smoking pot and kinky sex in the White House and politicians now go down for even less. But even in our everyday life, people are always forming opinions and thus attitudes about us. But I do find, those that truly care about us realize that we are not what we feel, we are what we do with it. Expressing views is simply that.
With that in mind, I feel certain some folks will agree with some of my observations:
- Churches should use (home-made!) Italian bread for communion verses scanning
- The volume of commercials should be the set at the same level as TV shows, verses so many decibels higher. How annoying is it to watch something live, turn the volume down on the ads and then have the show start back up and you miss the opening lines?
- For those that feel everyone should not have medical insurance, here is a thought. Go without it for 1-2 years, in particular when you have health issues and try to pay those bills and get service from health care providers. Then express your views about life without it.
- People that drink coffee should no, I don’t do drugs. Because they do! Addiction to coffee is strong. And I must say a wonderful drug!
- People that stare at misbehaving children in public apparently aren’t aware this does not help the situation at all. I propose the following: each one be photographed at a store for a week or so. Then each store interested in this experiment post a large board in the front of the store so everyone can see, kind of like a WANTED poster. On it would be placed the pictures of the gawkers with a label on top that reads Warning: These customers enjoy watching parents struggling with their children.
- Women need to pack for one trip like their male counterparts. Pretend they are visiting a nudist colony and when they do go outside of the colony, there is no need for clothes to match. And then perhaps the packing standard might change for women and men will see what we frequently see on vacation!
- Doctors need to sit in their waiting rooms at least once a year on a booked afternoon appointment. And then, they must be docked pay for being gone so long
- There is no such thing as childproof furniture. This particular type of false advertising should be tested by preschoolers in the store it is sold to proof the legitimacy.
- Instead of Wife Swap, to make it much more interesting and controversial, it should be Teenager Swap. The teenagers used should be the variety we all label ‘not-fun’ types as we all know what a killjoy they can be. Now that would be an interesting show. Let’s see how other parents deal with your troublesome child and also find out if you are part of the problem.
- Long lines at the cash register should result in a standard discount for customers. Why not? Is it our fault that not enough employees were scheduled and does ourshopped at a competitor!
- The list of potential side effects on drugs reads like a laundry list for the mentally insane to consider taking. With this in mind, are some of these made up? Once the list gets rolling on TV, it affects virtually every human body system there is, including breathing.
- Reality shows should not be scripted so we can determine just how boring and dysfunctional these folks truly are. Let’s set the standard on these shows as realistic so we aren't promoting unreal expectations and having our young people idolize fake personalities and celebrities.
- Customer services reps should be empowered to create and present solutions verses roadblocks. We don’t sit on hold for half an hour to be told nothing can be done.
- Women with 5-6 children+ should be allowed to have more than one husband. There are only 24 hours in a day and each child deserves attention from a male counterpart. Note, the reverse should not be allowed. Men have no need for more than one wife in this instance. We all know why!
- I will not be in an Older Woman’s Beauty Pageant or competing for Ms. Popularity so yes, I realize my views aren't shared by some. And that is okay, we are all unique and find our own way of dealing with life’s intricacies.
Your approach defines you as a person. You can spend your life cursing.
But the other option to me, is laughing and letting life be.
Live in the moment as much as you can.
And know that others aren't always willing to bend.
Remember your control is limited to you; there is little you can do.
You can’t change others; brush it off with an Oh Brother!
Move on, it’s not your trial, accept what is and crack a smile!
Others will see you enjoying your life,
And you will set an example for others to strife.
You never know when it will be the last time to see someone. Life is funny that way. One day you are a part of someone’s life and then, overnight, you are not. The goodbye,was a farewell in this lifetime.
It is very sad when it is someone you love and care about. And yet, none of us control others, none of us get to say when good bye is said. I am not sure if it sadder when it is due to death or by someone else’s choice. Knowing someone you care about is out there but you aren't seeing them, sharing in their laughter, can be gut-wrenching.
I suppose it is true that we all have our crosses to bear. It is not possible that we get to choose what those are. We are simply called to accept God’s plan, even if it does mean we will endure pain. Somehow our faith in that should ease our grief.
If that last encounter was a kiss, an embrace, ah, that should warm the heart more. But for many, it simply makes the grief even more real, even more hurtful. Loving someone, anyone, friend, family or child and no longer being an active part of their life is hurtful. For many, it is as if they must go on with life while a piece of their heart has been chiseled out and can’t be replaced by anyone.
Tears can flow, holidays roll by, but the love of another human being, unconditional love, doesn't go away. If someone you have helped nurture and/or fostered a close loving relationship with no longer sees you, at some level, it must register that they too, deep inside their soul, miss you too. That memory, that connection you had, is something the heart, the subconscious does not forget.
But it is hard to walk away with and move forward without having those days when, out of the corner of your eye, you feel a tear begin to slip down the side of your face. The next thing you know, there is a thunderstorm inside you that bursts open and the cry is more than just a thought a tissue can quickly clear away. It is something, call it a Kodak moment, that can't be erased. And you don't want it gone.
It is amazing how resilient we are, to be able to endure the pain of a loss of someone dear to us and still find the strength to go on with our lives. We must and accept life is certainly about change. Acceptance of life with other people’s conditions on yours can be challenging . But reality is life is painful. Life is not always happy endings. We can’t control what others think or do and what they act on. We can only control ourselves. That alone we have to use to create our own sense of peace.
God is there. Through the loss, the tears, when the 'missing' becomes overpowering, God is holding your hand assuring you that you are not forgotten. He lets us know your shared memories mattered, that it was not all for not. He feels the pain and cries along with us at our hurt.
If you are hurting and have lost someone you love, the ability to be an active part of their life, know that you are not alone. If the last occasion was voices raised in anger, know that anger does subside over time. Eventually your shared moments will surface. You may be long gone but those memories, those times together, cannot be erased. That someone will miss you and so will others connected with that person that are no longer a part of your world.
Raise your head after you weep and know God is crying too. May you be graced enough that your last encounter was holding that person close, perhaps in your arms. May the last words you uttered have been an endearment saying I love you and will miss you. And know, without a shadow of a doubt, its better to have loved, nurtured and cared for someone dearly than to have missed the opportunity to have impacted someone’s life. And, for you, the one with the heavy heart, far better that your special someone got the chance to deeply touch yours.
Missing your little face,
And your sweet embrace,
The sound of your giggle,
When you start to wiggle.
Knowing as you grow,
The memories may start to go.
And praying as they do,
You'll feel I am out here always loving you.
Is silence golden? Well, silence can be deafening when someone wants to speak of something that touched their life dearly and those around them do not want to listen. If the universe intersects some people in a negative way, they would just as soon not hear the voices that need and should be heard. They would rather be shrouded in ignorance than know the truth. This self-protection from that which is not pleasant but is someone else’s reality does more harm than good. It is a missed opportunity for growth and learning.
Everyone’s voice matters. Even those with a song that is full of sorrow deserves to be sung, deserves to be heard. It should not fall on deaf ears; it should be listened to with compassion. We are all called to be servants of God. Being a Christian, living in his likeness means opening ourselves up to some painful discussions now and then.
The disciplines had to be filled with grief at what they saw Jesus endure. They each had come to know him, one on one, and had some conviction he might be the chosen one. Yet, his words were filled with not only hope but of justice. He urged others to care for their brothers. This request involves being supportive of those in need, those hurting and those who need more than a passing glance. That, at times, could be painful and it was for the disciples.
It is unfathomable to speak of living a life of Christianity and following the Church by simply attending. It is not enough to simply take care of your own immediate family’s needs in your home. No, God intended us to be gateways between him and others in many ways and not all ways are an easy path. Some involve sacrifice. Yet, those hurting in our country are met too quickly with condemnation for their misgivings, be it having committed a crime in their life, being abused, being disabled, or being chronically or mentally ill. These conditions are often treated as if they are contagious. Be wary of these folks for they will pass it on!
Steps are needed to show Christianity, not lines from the Bible nor dressing up every Sunday. One should not speak of living a good life if that life does not involve helping others. What is good about a life that serves no one else?
People in need deserve disciplines. They deserve loved ones and friends that are there for them, that listen, that accept, care and respect their story. Just because it has dips and bends along the way does not make it any less magnificent. Listening is learning and to the other person it can be the ultimate healing.
I suppose the end all question in this blog is are you able to be a healer? Do you have the ability to love others unconditionally? Can you allow others a voice to be heard without judgment on your part and gain respect for their experiences, though they are different than yours?
Silence is not golden for a child of abuse. It is not calming either when you have been raped or no one believes you. Someone chronically ill still needs to be heard; though their voice may be pained it still matters. And you listening has the power to help ease the pain. Infact, listening can be one of the most uplifting things you can do for others.
Thus, the silence resounds. It seems to be a prevailing attitude in society, even among families and friends. People are ignored, not responded to and put by the wayside as if they are not worthy simply because their life is different. They choose to distance themselves from those with negative experiences in life and then, never have to concern themselves with being part of the solution. They are willing to accept the loss of growth because that growth will come with some pain, some tears, and some potential heartache.
Talking to several folks over the past several months has given me a great insight to others perceptions of silence. I have seen tears, heard shouts and read profanity. All of this because of someone who endured or is enduring misfortune and the very people, family or friend they thought would be there is not. They became a non-priority. The loss of support is painful, sometimes as painful as the original issue at heart.
Know that your silence can hurt. In the worst case scenario, it can kill. You can walk away with no misgiving, no guilt, at least for the moment. But is there a price you pay, we all pay, for your silence? Are you impeding the growth of those around you when they need you the most? Could the best lessons in life be learned through the very folks you are shutting out? I could make a case for yes, they are. Your silence is deafening but by not listening, you are stunting your own growth. And they, God willing, will continue to grow.
Silence can be rigid and unforgiving and black instead of golden.
Special thank you to a few recent friendships that had a great deal of input and influence in this blog. You all know who you are! I am blessed to have you in my life. Those that choose to have you in theirs are as well. Those that don't, I think we can all agree, this blog is reflective of them.
Autism is so prevalent!
Just recently, we all know the situation in Baltimore has created what the community feels warrants large protests in the street. I was glad to see this mirrored in other cities. What happens in one city can easily happen in others, even if there wasn't proof that it is already. It was also refreshing to see how many white colored and other minorities joined in these walks, as they should. Prejudice and labeling is an insult to us all. Would these other races be as involved if the issue were not so highly publicized? I don’t know the answer but I think it is worth contemplating.
I remember years ago when I had watched a television expose on sex trafficking. It followed prominent American men going to Thailand for services. In watching the show in my comfortable home in Nashville, Tennessee and seeing young girls around the age of 10-12 offering men blow jobs for a dollar or two for food while they lived in horrid conditions, my mind was blown away. Hearing about this topic is one thing, seeing it in action is another thing. It is so abhorrent I felt compelled to do something.
I went to work the next day and told several women I worked with about it. One woman, in particular, was married to a preacher of a Pentecostal church. When I told her I wanted to do something to make a difference, she recommended I find another cause as that one was too far out of reach for me to make a difference. Well, saying no to those children was heart-breaking as I could not get the image out of my head.
I made a commitment, from then on in Sept. 2010 I was going to say a prayer every day on my way to work that by Christmas something would happen and at least some of those girls would get out of there. I said the same prayer every day with such conviction asking God to please help those people on the news show that were committed to that mission, getting girls out of sex slavery, to make a big break. Then it happened. The first week of Dec. I was driving to work listening to the news. I had just finished my prayer and it came on. A huge rescue attempt had been made and was successful and a roundup of girls had been made that had been held in sex slavery! Our government released a statement saying it was one of the largest numbers of children they had gotten out of this situation. I believe prayer does make a difference!
We all have our concerns in life with issues that affect our lives more directly. As a breast cancer survivor, I am fervently in support of the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides
against Breast Cancer. I currently, during the season, help with the
social media. I participate in other areas for this event too wanting it, each
year, to be bigger and more successful in donations and awareness than the
next. Though I do not see my involvement
as self-serving, I do see it as a natural evolvement.
|Debbie Thomas, Director of Strides & myself, 2014, media specialist|
It is important to support areas that are outside of our comfort zone. I admire those that do more than pray, those that do more than read about it. But doing anything is better than doing nothing! The issues are plentiful, animals being endangered, people having rare forms of illness, children dying from lack of healthcare, gay rights.
Care enough to be motivated to understand the issue and why it indirectly affects you. People need each other to get involved and make a stand. The idea that gay people can get medical insurance from companies as a partner but in states are not allowed to marry seems so contradictory. Do we really want our money spent on fighting over this issue when there are issues out there causing quality of life? I have a grandchild that could use a service dog, a friend that could use medical assistance, families in major cities that could use money spent on police reform.
There is a line between being concerned and being consumed. With all of the stress in our lives, no one needs to take on added stress. However, helping a brother is something we are all called to do. To expect the world to help you in your hour of need when your life has been played out serving no one but your own needs and wants is hypocritical. I urge you to find the time. Even if it is simply to become knowledgeable about some of the issues we are facing. Hopefully, with that understanding, you will be more than willing to take a few moments out of your life to try to make a difference. Stepping up feels good and is more rewarding than sitting down.