Wiz

One absolutely spectacular benefit working within the banking industry is a certain pretend holiday, Columbus Day. Oh yeah, falling on a Monday in October while the kids are back in school, husbands at work….Columbus Day HAS to be the best, employer paid holiday EVER known in the United Sates of America.

A couple of years ago, while employed with a local credit union, another Columbus Day came along. The time was ripe. My son on the Spectrum had shown me twice the venue he wanted to visit. His younger brother, an absolute super-hero, was good with the idea. So, we sprang it on him. Booked an overnight flight to Vegas (Baby!) to visit the unknown-to-most Pinball Hall of Fame!

You know the song, Pinball Wizard. Well, the guy with late onset autism, he relates. The self proclaimed “gamer” regressed, technologically speaking, into loving pinball. So hey, just try finding an operating machine thats not in a dive bar or other establishment that discourages a 16 year old young man from living his passion. Not easy, any day of the week. But try we did. So with his research and discovery of the “Hall” lie the path that will lead us to pinball Nirvana.

Om. (Clang Clang!)

Within fifteen minutes of our arrival to Vegas, we were surrounded by two hundred plus pinball machines. All workable and playable, spanning from the oldest to the latest, WOW! Can you say sensory overload? “MOM!” “I need a quarter!” was the last I heard from him for the eight hour shift.

It really was my idea of idyllic, a wonderful way to spend a weekend with my son. Besides the “Hall” we went to the art showing at the Bellagio, ate crappy pizza, had dinner for breakfast and pillaged the arcade at our hotel resort.

Returning home exhausted at 2:00 in the morning, I drug it to work the next day and managed to play off that I hadn’t slept in 24 hours. Arriving home, ready to collapse, my eldest son yells for my attention from the basement. He’d found it, a new Nirvana – the Coin Operated Museum in San Francisco!

“When can we go!” ~ James Frye

“If some people didn’t tell you, you’d never know they’d been away on a vacation.” ~ Kin Hubbard

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Evensong

My boy’s grandmother passed before I met their father.  We sometimes wonder what our lives would be like if she were here, living and knowing her grandsons.  Her eldest grandson, the one who’s been called autistic, who bucks that status quo every day, and her youngest – the most dignified wise-ass you will ever meet.

I hear stories about her and what life was like before, with her in this world.  The wonderful story that involves a woman living with a cancer diagnosis for 17 years longer than predicted, and her sense of fun and humor that sustained their days and extended her life. 

I can only imagine how wonderful it would be if she were here, sharing in our belief that this life is a good life, regardless of our supposed “challenges”.  She would likely remind us, with our without words, that every day is a good day when you wake up, open your eyes to see the morning, get out of bed with legs that stand and allow you to walk downstairs to greet your family.  Your family, the same people you see every day that cares about you and your welfare.

She would have to laugh out loud at her sons antics with her grandsons – like today…. our oldest son chooses not to answer the phone when my husband called to check up on him.  So, when he finally got through to our autistic son who stayed home from school, he disciplined him for the indiscretion.  It wasn’t too much later our son called my husband back on his cell phone.  Yeah, sounds like the eldest decided to call his dad out for his own lack of phone manners and rudeness that laced his worried voice.  His father’s poor behavior cost him hamburgers and a vanilla shake for dinner.  I don’t think grandma would take this exchange for granted knowing how far that grandson has come to make that call. 

Our two little white dogs would have tickled her funny bone.  They are her son’s girls, mark my words.  If she could watch him carry them around in his arms, just like he did our boys when they were babies, cradled and safe from harm.  She too had a little poodle dog, named Snoop.  My husband laments that dog to this day for being so crabby with everyone but his mother. 

My late mother in law was a kindergarten teacher.  Her son followed in her footsteps and has carved a career out of teaching elementary aged kids their ABC’s and 123’s.  Sometimes I meet past colleagues and students of hers while working in a local teacher’s credit union.  When I ask if they knew her I am always told how radiant of a person she was and how deeply missed she has been.  Just last week, an old friend of the family shared the story of her “jelly buddy” that popped out of her swim suit top while they were having drinks in the hot tub.  Always, I’m told, she armored up with humor regardless of how she felt. 

I know she would be as proud of her youngest grandson as we are for wanting to follow in his families’ footsteps and be the next generation to work as a professional educator.  He’s working to be a history professor, and we believe he will be one of the very best.  His sharp wit and improve style of humor adds that certain something to every conversation.  I hope she wouldn’t be too worried that he has had to grow up so fast and seems unnaturally responsible for his age.  We know he’s got his wild streak….he is just clever enough to wear his invisibility cloak at the right times, in all the right places.

 While my husband misses her, sometimes intensely, my kids and I miss the idea of her.  I don’t think she’s too far away – I believe she’s right here, with us.  She sits with us at the dinner table, laughs at her son’s quick witted jokes, watches her grandchildren grow and prepare for their future endeavors, and finally – she believes, just like we do, that life is a gift worth living.  ~ Wendy Frye

“Life consists not in holding good cards but in playing those you hold well.” ~ Josh Billings

The Artist’s Statement!

Our oldest son was diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum 15 years ago and will graduate this year. He is a bonafide artist……This is his professional statement to the world. Enjoy!

THE ARTIST’S
STATEMENT

word – n
…a unit of language, consisting of one or more spoken sounds or their written representations, that functions as a principal carrier of meaning.

ON THIS PLANET, MOST PEOPLE COMMUNICATE WITH WORDS. MANY, MANY WORDS ALL STITCHED TOGETHER; RICH WITH EMBEDDED OVERTONES THAT TINTS OUR MIND WITH EMOTIONS AND FEELINGS. WHAT OF THE MEANING OF ALL THE WORDS? ALL THOSE WORDS WHICH ARE TO BE INTREPRETED BY THE LISTENER TO EVOKE AN UNDERSTANDING OF ANOTHERS EMOTIONS AND FEELINGS? TOGETHER, THOSE WORDS CAN COLOR ANYTHING, EVERYTHING OR NOTHING.

LIKEWISE ON THIS PLANET, JAMES FRYE, COMMUNICATES HIS FEELINGS AS A YOUNG MAN ON THE AUTISM SPECTRUM THROUGH HIS ARTWORK.

THE WORK OF JAMES FRYE IS UNIQUELY HIS OWN AND HIS OWN UNIQUELY. HIS PRIDE REFLECTS DIRECTLY UPON HIS PURPOSE HERE AND IS THE VERY REASON WHY HE CREATES ORIGINAL ARTWORK TO SHARE WITH THE WORLD – COMMUNICATING HIS FEELINGS UNLIKE ANY WORDS CAN EXPRESS.

Art, at its simplest, is a form of communication. As most forms of communication have an intent or goal directed toward another individual, this is a motivated purpose.​

JAMES FRYE HAS DECLARED HIMSELF TO BE “AN ARTIST!” WOULDN’T IT BE SOMETHING TO JUST KNOW WHAT YOUR LIFE WORK WILL BE BEFORE YOU GRADUATE FROM HIGH SCHOOL? WOULDN’T IT HAVE BEEN SOMETHING MORE TO KNOW HOW YOU WOULD BE LEAVING YOUR BOLDEST THUMBPRINT ON THE WORLD SO YOUNG?

YOU SEE, JAMES FRYE, “THE ARTIST!” WAS DIAGNOSED ON THE AUTISM SPECTRUM AT THE AGE OF 3 ½. JAMES WAS BASICALLY NON-VERBAL UNTIL AFTER THE AGE OF 6 YEARS OLD. JAMES HAS WORKED VERY, VERY HARD OVER THE YEARS TO OVERCOME HIS LINGUISTIC COMMUNICATION DISABILITY.

JAMES PAINTS WITH ACRYLLIC PAINTS IN AN ABSTRACTED STYLE AND SOMETIMES FORMS SYMBOLS WITHIN THE HARD LINES THAT ARE UP FOR INTREPRETATION. HE DRAWS AND SKETCHES HIS HANDS AND THEN FORMS STRINGS OF THESE SYMBOLS ACROSS THE PAGES. HE IS ALSO A VERY TALENTED CERAMIC ARTIST THROWING POTS AND WORKING THE CLAY BY HAND TO MAKE SOME VERY INTERESTING WORKS OF ART.

WITH HIS ART JAMES MOVES BEYOND HIS COMMUNICATION LIMITIONS – HE NAMES HIS PIECES VERY THOUGHTFULLY SUCH AS; “SQUIGGLY LINES & BRAIN CELLS”, “FRACTUAL FACES”, “SADNESS OF MEMORIES”, “RUSSIAN GEOMETRY OF NUTRITION” AND “PEACE MORE”. IT IS WITHIN THESE TITLES, WHERE THE WORDS ARE, THAT IS THE PLACE WHEREIN THE ARTIST COMMUNICATES.

The Turning Point….

To remember the actual calendar date, you know, the chronological order of things printed out on pretty paper that records the events of our lives? Couldn’t and wouldn’t happen during what we call “The Lost Decade”.

So busy, so intense, (on any given day) that if my husband or I was hungry, we’d maybe pour a bowl of cereal. Typical enough, right? Well, how it worked in our house was that perhaps three days later we would again notice the bowl of cereal on the counter, exactly where we placed it, still full and uneaten. “Hey, I was hungry!” String a few of these days together, you create weeks, weeks create months and the months form years. Crazy. Hectic. Stressful. Ours.

I awoke, one exceptionally beautiful, bright morning, at 7:00 a.m. It was right after hearing the local steel plant whistle signaling the beginning of another workday. I drew in a sharp, deep breath and cried. I finally cried. I cried with the deepest sense of relief a soul can draw from. I took this breath straight from the bottom of the well of feelings we humans been given – straight from the maker of us all. I wept from the joyous realization that we, and by “we” I mean my family of four, turned the corner.

This day was one singular day when a sense of dire panic wasn’t buried in a headache behind the eyes. Tension you say? Like no other on earth. When the muscles between your shoulder blades fuse into one mass, so much tension your neck doesn’t exactly swivel like the young guys on the beach when a beautiful girl walks past. Nope, it’s past useless to pray for a good nights sleep and I stopped praying long before the night that led to this wonderful morning.

The blessed night before this wonderful morning when bittersweet Morpheus drew me down, down, and further down to the core of the place where a new beginning dwelt. A vivid dream starting from the bottom of the earth, under miles of dirt and debris, black with the void.

Early on in this dream, I was moving up, slowly. So very slowly, I was allowed to observe each earthen layer. It was as if I was being projected from the very middle of our earth all mortals call home – but it was different, personal, and not collective recollection.

Each layer represented every insult, expensive procedure, “fantasy of recovery”, damage and destruction inflicted, pain, and perjury that was dealt to our oldest son, we took it on as a family. It was the very essence of these “things” I was being projected through.

With understanding came increased speed – and seemingly in seconds – impossible speed – to suddenly break through the crust and land on the soiled surface we walk upon each and every day. I had arrived at this sight in my minds eye, this glorious sight, the very vision that instantly filled my lungs with the breath to cry in deep and utter relief.

On the surface, what did I see? Indescribable turquoise skies sitting on top of white washed, clay houses. I knew there had been a war in this village. A long battle involving egos, apathy and confusion. Foundations were cracked, walls had holes, rubble filled the streets. There was to be a rebuilding process. I was filled with HOPE – enough hope to begin forming a launchpad for the astronaut we’ve managed to juggle all the years during “The Lost Decade.”

“Within the neuronal valley of our souls dwells hope. Believing in hope is the catalyst for change. And it is true, just like the Beatles song, All You Need is Love.” ~Wendy Frye