Category Archives: Not About Autism

I Love You. Drive Carefully.

drive carefully

This is an essay I wrote for my students.  At the end of each year, I printed it out onto card stock bookmarks and gave them to my classes on the last day of school.  

“I love you.  Drive carefully.”  These are the words etched on a cheap key ring that my Granny put into my Christmas stocking more than 20 years ago.  It was one of those $1.99 bargains that can be purchased from cheap mail-order catalogs.  At 16, I thought it was corny and probably rolled my eyes, but I dutifully attached it to my key ring.  Years went by, and it somehow made its way into the kitchen junk drawer.

A few years after my grandmother died, I was rifling through that kitchen drawer when I came across the now-broken key ring.  Now, having young people in my life that I care about, I realized the enormity of the statement.  I love you.  Drive carefully.

It wasn’t a reminder to use my turn signals or to stay one car length for every 10 miles per hour.  It wasn’t just about driving.  It was a plea:  “Please be safe.  I love you, and I cannot bear for anything to happen to you.  Yes, live your life.  You are growing up and behind the wheel now.  I cannot always be there to protect you.  So, please be careful.  You are precious to me.”

I took that key ring and put it on a ribbon.  I hang it on my rear view mirror now as a reminder to me that the way I live my life has an effect on others.  Just because I am not feeling overly careful one day, it does not give me the right to be foolish with my life.  There are others who care about me, need me, and would be hurt deeply if I were hurt or hurt others.  Every now and then, I look at that key ring and smile.  It is a constant reminder.

The school year has ended, and you are now leaving my little classroom.  However, know that as you go, you have left someone whom you have touched with your life – someone who cares very much about you.  Your face and smile tug on my heartstrings.  I want you to lead a happy, healthy, and successful life.  I want you to have all the wonderful things you dream of.

But, unfortunately, sometimes we make rash and foolish decisions.  We choose to follow those who do not have our best interests at heart.  We get mad and roar away in a car.  We choose what is easy — rather than what is right.  And we pay for those moments with our futures — and sometimes our lives.

As you leave here today, please remember:

I love you.  Drive carefully.

 

Pranking Autistic Pre-schoolers and Other Ill-Advised Pursuits

Bronwyn, my 5 year-old, has discovered YouTube.  For the most part, this is a good thing.  She watches kids’ music videos, children’s stories, and monster makeup tutorials made by other kids.  She enjoys these “tatorials” so much that I can hear her “filming” her own videos, speaking directly to her audience as she discusses how to do such things as washing one’s own hair, counting to 100 by 5’s, and so forth.  It’s cute, but I fear she is going to ask me for her own channel soon.  No, she won’t be getting one.

Recently, she asked if she could watch some little girl “pranking” her family members.  The pranks were innocent enough, so I allowed it.  Big mistake.  Now she is stalking our home, lying in wait for some way to prank us all.  (You should have seen her delight when her daddy discovered the salt in his morning cup of coffee.)  Really, it’s been kind of cute watching her tap into her imagination, although we did have to have a discussion about funny vs. mean pranks. 

You probably have guessed where this is going.  Yes, my little stinker wants Callum to join in the fun.  So I explained to her that her little brother probably wasn’t going to appreciate being pranked and that we should all refrain from doing so.  Being a little Choleric, she of course ignored my advice and set about pranking Callum.  It didn’t go well.  He thought it was funny when she jumped out at him from behind a door, but that’s where the hilarity ended.  Hiding his candy, letting the water out of his bathtub, and touching ice to the back of his neck were all spectacular disappointments as well.  (Which earned her repeated trips to time out in her room.)  So I’m going to go out on a limb here and state emphatically that playing practical jokes on autistic preschoolers is ill-advised.  Somebody alert the media. 

I must say that I was impressed with Callum’s handling of it all.  He may not have much language, but he has communication.  And, boy, did he communicate.  He yelled, growled his displeasure, and – understandably for any long-suffering little brother – gave her a little shove.  A clear case of self-defense, so he escaped prosecution. 

True Story – “How a Hog Pen Saved Me from Death”

As for my daughter’s love of practical jokes, I blame my husband.  She inherited it from him – along with his nose, a suspected case of ADHD, and a decidedly grumpy morning demeanor.  (It has been suggested to me by her teachers that I have her tested for gifted.   Let’s just attribute her staggering intellect to me, shall we?)  I’m more like Callum.  I don’t like surprises.  I have sensory issues.  And don’t even think about messing with my food.  Nope, I don’t like being on the receiving end of a practical joke at all, though I confess to having orchestrated a few really good ones.  (The best one nearly got me killed.)

But you know what I love?  The fact that my daughter loves her little brother so much that she constantly tries to find ways to entertain him.  Her solutions – at 5 years-old – leave much to be desired.  But her little spirit is willing, and – for the most part – so is his. 

How I look forward to seeing the trouble these little monsters get into together.  J

 

Siblings are the people we practice on, the people who teach us about fairness and cooperation and kindness and caring, quite often the hard way.

– Pamela Dugdale

 

 

 

Breathing Room: On Tiny Houses

Now I know the feeling.

All across the country right now, on morning shows and news sites, the tiny house movement is all the rage.  It’s a cool concept.  Folks sick of chasing the ever-increasing size of the American dream re-evaluate their needs and downsize their homes.  The idea is to take quality materials, some ingenuity and efficiency in design, and construct a home less than 800 square feet or so.  Tiny house proponents point out that a person can own their own home for around $10,000 – give or take a few for size.  Tree hugger types think it’s pretty groovy, as tiny home dwellers reduce their carbon footprints and have to find new and often green ways of doing things. 

I think all this is great.  Really, I do.  At least in theory – and for somebody else.  You see, I happen to know from experience that a tiny house is not for me. 

Four years ago, my family went through some tough times.   We had just had our first child, following an awful pregnancy.  I had hyperemesis my entire pregnancy (and the one that followed).  This meant that I was out of work a lot.  I was hospitalized a couple of times, went through some expensive testing, and still incurred the typical costs of a normal delivery and hospital stay.  My husband was laid off from his job, and money got tight.  When the larger home we were renting became a struggle to afford, we made the decision to move into my very small rental home.  I’d lived in it before – when I was single.  We knew it would be a bit of a sacrifice to downsize from a three bedroom/two bath to a two bedroom/one bath, but we went for it anyway.  We packed up a bunch of our stuff, put it into storage, and moved in.  We intended it to be for a year.  But autism therapy, the economy, and further health problems intervened, and we eventually made the decision to live off of my teacher’s salary alone and put my husband through nursing school.  One year stretched to four. 

Now I do not want to give the impression that I was ungrateful to have a roof over my head.  We knew it was a blessing to have the option to live somewhere rent/mortgage free.  Really.   And it was okay for awhile.  Our daughter was just 5 months old, and she didn’t take up much room then.  That is, until 15 months later when she was ambulatory and her baby brother came along.  By the time he starting walking too, we began to sympathize with sardines.  Tiny house lovers can do and live as they wish.  I’m glad they’re happy, and I know it’s great for some folks.  But I’m here to tell you, less than 800 square feet is not a lot of room for a family of four. 

We tried getting inventive.  We closed in the back part of our car port and created a combination pantry, storage, and communal closet.  We installed floor to ceiling shelves in our bedroom closets.  And we even installed floor to ceiling shelves on one wall in the kids’ room.  We used underbed storage.  Space saver bags.  We even pulled up a trailer bed and decided to de-junk our lives of anything we hadn’t touched in a year.   I kept saying that we just needed to think more like NASA – to think small, outside of the box, and to use every inch of vertical space that we could. 

But I hadn’t considered something that those smart folks at NASA do.  They actually take into consideration the psychological effects of cramming so many people together in a small space.  They know it’s stressful.  They have teams of psychologists who plan for this stuff.  Theorizing what might happen in a similar scenario on futuristic trips to Mars and such.  They don’t underestimate the potential impact.

One would think that it is easier to keep a tiny house clean.  But it’s not.  When everything you have is right there, then everything you have is right there.  Underfoot.  Making you slip, trip, and curse.  Stubbing your toe on every pass.  You open the single medicine cabinet in the house and carefully reach for a bottle in the back – only to have them all come spilling off the shelf.  You attempt to cook dinner and end up being snippy with anyone who dares to enter the kitchen — because there simply isn’t enough room.  You can no longer enjoy the crafts and hobbies you used to, because there is not enough horizontal space to spread them out.  It seems that every time you turn around, somebody is looking for something that cannot be found amidst all the other stuff that has no place to call its home.  The walls close in, tempers rise, and children bounce off the walls.  And you want to be anywhere else.  But going elsewhere always costs money.  The money you didn’t have enough of to begin with. 

But, like every other challenge in life, your circumstances become your reality.  And you just…deal.  We honestly forgot what it was like to have space.  To have room to organize things in a logical and accessible way.  To not be surrounded every minute of every day with everything we owned.  Yes, we were definitely looking forward to my husband graduating nursing school so that we could move.  But I know we didn’t really grasp just how much stress our tiny house was contributing to our lives. 

Until a week ago.  A week ago, we finished remodeling work on my father’s home and moved in.  And it was…heaven.  Everything has a place.  Unsightly things are all tucked away.  And I know where everything is.  Countertops are clear.  The floors are safe to traverse.  My children are basking in the joy of their own spaces.  It’s by no means a large house.  Just a simple three bedroom, two bath home with an open, combined kitchen/dining/living room.  But we have big closets and ample storage.  And we can now actually invite people over to visit.  There is room for them to sit down.  We feel like we can breathe again.  And I am just now realizing how very little air we really had just a couple of weeks ago. 

This house my dad left me is a blessing in so many ways –which is so messed up when I really think about how I got it.  Of course, I know it is what he wanted.  Every parent hopes to leave something to their children.  I just have such mixed feelings sometimes about enjoying it.  But I tell myself that is just likely part of my grieving process and try to enjoy it anyway.  Daddy was a practical man, and he would tell me wallowing in guilt won’t help anything.  I’m trying to keep that in mind.  I’m trying to focus instead on this blessing and the relief it provides to my already over-stressed family.  And I’m mostly just smiling about the obvious delight my children are taking in their new home.  They’re happy. 

So I guess the only thing for me to do is to try to be happy as well.  For I really do believe that happiness is mostly a choice.  But, like every choice, the battle between head and heart is a hard one, now isn’t it?

On Father’s Day: Eulogy for My Father

On this Father’s Day, a month after the passing of my dad, I wanted to write something in tribute to him.  (It doesn’t have anything to do with autism. Here’s what I wrote about my dad and autism.)  And then realized I already had just a month ago – his eulogy.  Here it is:

Many years ago, I found an anonymous little wisdom essay originally published in a 1916 Old Farmers Almanac.  I loved it.  I clipped it out, saved it in a scrapbook, and read it many times over the years – to the point of having it nearly memorized.  And I know why it spoke to me – it described perfectly my father.  It reads:

“The Friend”

A friend is a person who is “for you,” always, under any suspicion.  He never investigates you. When charges are made against you, he does not ask proof. He asks the accuser to clear out.  Anybody may stand by you when you are right; a friend stands by you even when you are wrong.  He likes you just as you are. He does not want to alter you.  Whatever kind of coat you are wearing suits him. Whether you have on a dress suit or a hickory shirt with no collar, he thinks it’s fine.  He likes your moods, and enjoys your pessimism as much as your optimism.  He likes your success.  And your failure endears you to him the more.  He is never jealous.  He wants nothing from you, except that you be yourself.  He is the one being with whom you can feel SAFE. With him you can utter your heart, its badness and its goodness. You don’t have to be careful.  In his presence you can be indiscreet; which means you can rest.  You give to him without reluctance and borrow from him without embarrassment.  When you are vigorous and spirited you like to spend your days with him; when you are in trouble you want to tell him; when you are sick you want to see him; when you are dying you want him near.  Friendship is the most admirable, amazing, and rare article among human beings.  It is said the highest known form of friendship is that of the dog to his master. You are in luck if you can find one man or one woman on earth who has that kind of affection for you and fidelity to you. For if you can live fifty years and find one absolute friend you are fortunate indeed. For of the thousands of human creatures that crawl the earth, few are such stuff as friends are made of.

 It may seem strange that I am reading about friendship while speaking about my father.  No, my father was not one of those parents guilty of shirking being a parent in favor of being his child’s pal.  He was definitely a father, but, for all the reasons described in that essay, he was also the greatest friend I will ever have.

Over the past couple of weeks, so many of you – sitting here today – have called, written, or come by to tell me just that.  Eyes bright, voices rough with emotion, and sharing story after story of what a remarkable friend you knew him to be.

The thing that I liked best about my father was his ability to cultivate the most eclectic, yet loyal and happy friendships.  He didn’t care how well his friends were dressed or where or if they attended church.  He wasn’t the least bit concerned with their wealth, professional success, or level of education – merely pleased for them if they were doing well.   He cared only about character, wit, and a spirit of adventure in those whom he chose to befriend.  And, despite his widely known political views, several of his very favorite liberals are sitting here today, probably remembering some amusing and spirited debates.

Spread out across this church are many people I know a lot about.  For, if my dad mentioned someone, he would tell you a story or share his view of what he really thought about them.  Some of you right now might be thinking, “Uh oh”.  But you have no cause for worry.  Because he just didn’t have bad things to say about people.   I’m sure he held the secrets of many people here today, but he held them to himself.  He was, like the essay said, as faithful as a dog to those whom he called his friends.

For being such an analytical man, he rarely analyzed those he knew.  Whenever someone would apologize for some imagined offense, he would laugh and say, “You don’t ever have to worry about offending me.  I’m so unobservant, I likely won’t have noticed.”  It was true.  He wouldn’t have noticed.  But not because he was unobservant.  I think we all know just how quick his mind was.  But, unlike many of us, he simply didn’t choose to look for slights from others.  Even if those slights involved glazed and wandering eyes during one of his thrilling yet unabridged tales of Allied naval victories.

No, he wasn’t one to take offense.  Yet he was such a humble person that he also didn’t look for praise.  When told of something nice someone said about him, he was always somewhat astonished he crossed their mind in the first place.  I promise you, he never dreamed of the outpouring of fond memories and heartfelt sentiments so many of you have expressed over the past several days.  He never imagined the high esteem in which so many of you held him.  I know he would have been completely surprised and quite moved.

Yes, my dad was a beloved character all right – and one we liked to tease mercilessly.  Mainly because his playful spirit so enjoyed that teasing he would turn pink and belly laugh.  From his always-convenient ankle-strapped mini-Derringer to his ever-ready bottles of homemade datil pepper sauce, it can be safely said there will never be another quite like him.  As my dear friend Jen so aptly described his loss, “A wonderful man has left us.  A grand Southern gentleman, an intellectual, a thoughtful and wry wit, and a deeply loved man. The world is less today.”

I could stand here and speak all day about my Daddy – his stories, humor, philosophies, and kindnesses.  I could tell you of all the people in recent days who have poured out their hearts about what a fine man he was, how true a friend he was to them, and how much they respected him.  But, rather than hold you nice folks hostage, I will sum up everything I am feeling right now to this:

There are no doubt thousands of little girls, both young and old, the world over who hold their daddies to be men among men.  But I have had the honor and extraordinary experience of having so many others… agree.  I am so very proud to have been his daughter.

I’m Doing: On the Loss of My Father

I’ve been avoiding you.  Up until now, I really couldn’t stand the thought of addressing in words what I think or feel about anything.

When I taught writing, I used to have my students visualize a stage in front of a full audience.  I told them to look and see who was in the audience.  To question why the audience members came to listen to them.  And to try to come up with a way to grab and maintain the audience’s attention.  It’s how I have always written.

But four weeks ago, an empty seat appeared – front and center – in my audience.  I lost my favorite subscriber and my biggest fan – my dad.  For the last few weeks, I have visited my dashboard with plans to write.  But when I step out onto my mental stage, I just keep seeing that empty seat.  And the words don’t come.

Since the death of my father, I have been frequently asked by many people how I’m doing.  Several times a day.  No, I don’t resent the question or think it’s stupid.  It’s genuine concern.

But I find that, despite my standard response of “I’m doing alright, thanks”, I am struck by the realization that I really have no idea how I’m doing.  The past six weeks are a bit of a blur.  For me, it’s still the end of April, and I seem to have a lot of trouble fixing the correct date in my head.   June something.

I spent two weeks in a zone of automaticity – ICU, eat, sleep, repeat.   And, because my father’s chances for a full recovery looked so good, tears were not acceptable.  It was extremely important to me that he understood how well he was doing — which he was.  I knew he needed strength, so that’s what he got.

And then the second stroke attacked.

I had been home for a little over three hours on my stepsister’s night shift at the hospital, when I got the call to return to Gainesville.  A little over an hour later, I arrived and was informed of the gravity of the situation.  There were a couple of last-ditch efforts, tests, results, etc.  But I knew long before the doctors finally stated it that he was gone.  He would never have wanted to be kept alive artificially, so we declined to keep him on life support.  He died peacefully two hours later.

I cried all that day.  From the first realization in the wee hours of the morning until he passed that night. I hadn’t shed a single tear until then.  Daddy and I used to joke that there was never a need to fall apart until it becomes absolutely necessary.  But I fell apart that night alright.  The whole cycle of life struck me so hard.  I thought of how much my grandmother loved her little boy.  How much I loved her little boy as my father.  What his death will steal from my children.  How easily we roll and overlap from child to parent to child again.

The hardest thing I’ve ever had to do was let go of his hand.

As we stepped out of the hospital a few minutes later, it began to pour –which struck me as oddly appropriate.  Like maybe the sky was crying too.  And I went home to learn how to no longer be my daddy’s little girl.

The past month has been another blur.  Flowers, cards, photos, music, out-of-town mourners, the visitation, writing his eulogy, the funeral.  Policies, accounts, closing his practice, probate.  The decision to return to work for the last couple of weeks of school.  I’ll admit – the thought of taking a personal leave was mighty tempting.

I have lost loved ones before, but I have never experienced a grief like this.  It’s profound.  Despite legally being an adult  for twenty years, there was a part of me that was still somebody’s little girl.  There was still somebody on the planet who had to take me in should I need shelter.  Somebody to bail me out if I got in a mess.

Now there is no one left to take care of me — but me.  Suddenly, every decision I make will come from my own analysis.  I no longer have the wisdom of my father, something I relied upon more than I realized.  I’m 38.  And, though it sounds crazy, I feel like a grown-up for the first time.   Feeling my mortality and a loss of innocence.

Through all of this, I have made a discovery.  I am more my father’s daughter than I even knew.  People looked at me strangely throughout the week of the funeral.  At the visitation, the service, and the reception.  People kept remarking about how “pulled together” I was, how I could still laugh and make jokes, and how they were amazed I could deliver the eulogy without crying — on the outside.  And it brought me back to when my father lost my stepmother to cancer.  I remember him going about the business of carrying on after her death.  Him going through the motions, but private in his life-altering grief.  I see him in me.  And I am realizing more each day how much of what makes me tick is inherited from him and his approach to life.  I loved him dearly.  But I liked him even more.   How I’m going to miss him liking me.

Instead of answering how I’m doing, I should just start saying, “I’m doing.”  Which is exactly what he would tell me to do.  Just keep doing.  Get up every day.  Go to work.  Take care of what is necessary.  Go to dinner with good friends.   Laugh with your children.  See a movie.  Until it isn’t such an effort to move about.  If you do otherwise, you’ll just sit and rust.  A concept my dad would never approve of.

(He used to tell people he would never retire.  Even if he just kept a handful of clients and worked one day a week.  He maintained that if you retire, you can never go on vacation.)

So, here I am stepping out on my stage again.  And, instead of avoiding the empty seat in the front row, I’m going to try to visualize him sitting in it still.  Still encouraging me in my decisions.  Still proud of me.  Still the greatest friend I’ll ever have.

And hope that he is still subscribing from far away.

I’m Okay: Autopilot Engaged


Disclaimer:  This is a thoroughly depressing, self-absorbed post, written in the ICU.  Read at your own risk.

I’m going to do what I said I didn’t really want to do and write a post about something other than autism. This is not to say that I don’t enjoy writing about other things.  I do and have.  It’s just that I’ve really tried to hold firm to that blogging guideline of defining your blog and sticking to it.  But something has happened that has removed autism from my mental train completely.  And it’s all bottled up inside my head with nowhere to escape but here.

Twelve days ago, I received an anxious call from my father’s secretary.  Apparently, the guy who mows his lawn saw an ambulance carry him away.  Having a terrifying clue what had happened (he had a stroke 10 years ago), I got my husband to drive me to the hospital and found my dad in the emergency department with stroke symptoms.  In short time, a CT scan revealed a very large hemorrhagic stroke.  A LifeFlight chopper was called, and we took off for Shands – where he had been accepted to their NeuroIntensive Care Unit.  I didn’t go further than a hotel a couple of miles up the road for 8 days.  A week into the stroke — though doing amazingly well neurologically — he developed some breathing complications related to just being in the ICU and has been completely sedated and on a ventilator for several days now.  All predictions from his neurosurgical team are that this is sort of par for the course for ICU.  And they have repeatedly stressed how great of shape he is really in – no apparent neurological or cognitive damage.  Most people in his should would be dead or in a coma.  He is very, very lucky.

But it hasn’t been an easy ride.  Each day there is some new test, new tube, or new worry.  First and foremost – pressure on the brain. Then there is a period of danger called a vasospasm window, the time period patients are at risk for what are kind of aftershock strokes.  Blood pressure crisis one day, oxygenation the next.  Fever.  Among several other concerns.  If I hear two steps forward one step back one more time I’ll scream.  But it is all too true and patience is the only option available.

I’ve seen some awful things he has had to endure over the past few days.  I’ve ridden in elevators with entirely too many sick children. I’ve met some very nice folks in the ICU waiting room, shared our stories and family member’s conditions, and seen their heartbreak as they made their final goodbyes.  I’ve been so very sad for them — and so very relieved I wasn’t in their shoes.  Daddy’s condition is, of course, quite serious, but he has apparently escaped permanent damage.  It looks like we will get to take our loved one home.  All of him.

I’ve watched people handle it all so differently as well.  The angry types — who demand entry everywhere and are furious when doctors cannot answer the unanswerable.  The dramatic types – who seem to thrive just a bit too much on an unfolding crisis.  The manager types – who talk loudly, take detailed notes while demanding the correct the correct spelling of every name, and attempt to conduct the emergency to their own satisfaction.  The wailers – whom you really should limit visiting the sick person, lest he think he’s dying.  The jokers – who are so uncomfortable with grief they use inappropriate humor in an attempt to deflect it.  And the doers – who immediately begin making contact lists, researching, making plans, signing paperwork, etc., with the express purpose of delaying the inevitable emotional crash sure to follow by just keeping busy.

That’s me.  I’m a doer.  An emotional autopilot.  I know I’m not the only one, as I’ve met others like me.  I’ve been acting as the family spokesperson – complete with a medical update email, investigating hotels, discussing rehab options.  But I’m starting to get the idea that I have a particularly bad case of keeping busy.  Over the past few days, I’ve noticed several people looking at me strangely.  I’m getting the idea that they are wondering what is wrong with me, why I’m not crying, when I’m going to fall apart.  I confess that I am wondering myself.

Because, I really could use a good cry.  The problem is that it is all bottled up in uncertainty.  I keep telling everyone who expresses concern that I will fall apart when it is called for or it’s over and that neither of those apply right now.  From experience, I know the difference.

Five years ago, pancreatic cancer – a cruel and often hopeless disease – robbed me of my stepmother.  A cheerful and devoted mother, grandmother, teacher, and friend, who dearly loved my daddy, was taken from us in just 5 months.  It was without hope from the beginning, and I began silently grieving from the start.  The last days of her life were pure hell – watching such a bright and beloved light fade from our world, leaving us all in devastation of her loss.  I had never known it possible to cry as hard as I did.  To this day, there are sights, sounds, and moments that take me right back to those dark hours.  I’ve never been the same.  There isn’t a single day that I don’t miss her presence and insight – especially now that I have children and a special needs child in particular.  I just know she would have been an amazing support for me and a wonderful grandmother to him.

But this is different.  We’ve got all kinds of hope here.  But all kinds of suffering.  Worries.  Progress and setbacks.  Fear of the unknown.  Steadfast determination to remain positive.  Nagging doubts.  Relief.  Anxiety.  It isn’t grief.  But it’s still a total and overwhelming assault upon one’s emotions.   And deepest of all those emotions is the helplessness of watching someone I love suffer.  It’s like the whole world is in limbo.  (Oh, wait.  Maybe this sounds like dealing with an autism diagnosis for your child after all…)

I feel just like a lost little kid in a big crowd, hoping my daddy will come find me and take me home.

Only I’m a mother now.  I have small children who need my stability – even when I’m not feeling it myself.  My little girl is very aware of how much I’ve been gone and keeps drawing pictures “for you Mama”.  And Callum seems out of sorts as well – a little grumpy and way more snuggly.  (Of course, I have been going home as much as I can and switching off with my step-sister and a couple of others. I swear I’m not abandoning my children.)  My dad, were he not sedated at the moment, would fuss at me to go away and just pick him up from the hospital if he makes it.  But you just can’t do that with the kind of dad who has rightly earned the name Daddy, now can you?  He is, after all, Autism Grandparent of the Year. :)

So, yes, I’m okay.  At least on the Official Press Release Statement.  In a few weeks, when we get him out of the rehab hospital and back to being himself, I’ll reconsider a nervous breakdown.  Oh, wait.  I have to work for a living, be a wife, be a mother.  Nix the breakdown.  I’ll just have to settle for a visit with my doctor and the possible publication of some whiny blog posts.  Darn those celebrities.  Don’t you envy them their psychiatric options?

A quote about fathers and daughters I love:

“…I’ve made it my business to observe fathers and daughters. And I’ve seen some incredible, beautiful things. Like the little girl who’s not very cute – her teeth are funny, and her hair doesn’t grow right, and she’s got on thick glasses – but her father holds her hand and walks with her like she’s a tiny angel that no one can touch. He gives her the best gift a woman can get in this world: protection. And the little girl learns to trust the man in her life. And all the things that the world expects from women – to be beautiful, to soothe the troubled spirit, heal the sick, care for the dying, send the greeting card, bake the cake – all of those things become the way we pay the father back for protecting us…” 
― Adriana TrigianiBig Stone Gap

Update:  The day following this posting, my father suffered a second, more devastating stroke.  He passed away peacefully.