Mincemeat – reposted!

We have a rule in our house: We are the nicest to each other because we should be.

From time to time I reach down, pull out my worn out soap-box, step up and preach to my children about the people out “there” in the world we live in. The people you meet who would willingly punch you in the throat to get ahead. “Let those persons have at it” I tell them, in the end you won’t want to know them anyway. While choosing how you interact with other people, remember to always consider your own family first. We will always be stuck with each other, get used to it, so be nice. I then require them to re-commit to the “team”. The family “team” who WILL ACT CIVILLY, TREAT EACH OTHER WITH RESPECT, AND REMEMBER TO USE THEIR MANNERS WITH EACH OTHER! “What?!!” “Why are we having this same conversation again……MOM!” My teen-aged boys cry out in unison. “Well, let me go down my current list of reasons why in sequential order.”

– Telling your autistic (but not even close to helpless) brother that the magenta colored golf shirt he picked out for our vacation to San Francisco will make him look “gay”, is unacceptable. Gay people wear purple and straight people wear purple. Don’t be judgey of anyone.

– Snapping at each other (semi-forcefully) while folding laundry over which channel to watch on the television is complete lunacy. On that perfect day the window was open and the neighbors heard you bickering like holler monkeys. Not cool.

– Punishing your parents for wanting to take you to lunch after shopping as a family JUST because you couldn’t agree on a restaurant after 25 minutes is unacceptable. It’s called deferring to each other from time to time, gentleman. Go look it up.

– Launching air squadrons when either of you enter the kitchen just to protect your soda, ice cream or (insert here) from the other one this summer will not continue. And the Nerf gun your Dad brought home? I buried it in my garden.

– Remember, the dogs are family too. If you let them out, you wait for them to come back in. Standing on the deck, again bellowing like a holler monkey, wearing only boxer shorts and a t-shirt is not okay. You are hurting their feelings yelling at them in that tone – and use patience!
Sometimes they need a little privacy too.

Lastly, in general, the snapper-fish answers to anyone who asks a question will end. Automatically responding “no” is lame. Please try harder in the future to craft your answers and use your words, please. As punishment, each takes a turn going all day without referring to themselves in first person. Think about that, all day without starting a sentence with the word “I”. The mental fatigue will be epic. But you will be fine. “Are we good now?”. “YES MOTHER!”

I retired my soapbox for now – a little wary……..knowing full well that the potential to be submarined by my two children and just as insolent husband is lurking around any corner. Seriously, is turnabout always fair play? Maybe, maybe not.

Oh man, I am doomed. ~ Wendy Frye

“Counsel woven into the fabric of real life is wisdom.” Walter Benjamin

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Passed

To look forward to the opportunities to be chronicled starting with the initiation of a new year, it seems sensible to look back – first. I had forgotten and needed to re-learn how to measure success a long, long time ago. While recovering a child on the autism spectrum, the days, weeks, months, and years all fly by. Terrified we would miss the “finish date”, that notion where critical brain development is truncated by age – which signaled the end of the road. Even with a son who is now an adult on the spectrum, there is still that little “bit-o-panic” that nips at the heinie….a silent clock that ticks only in the back of the mind.

Tick.

Tock.

But wait!

Stop!

Stand still. Reminisce, go back through pictures (painful or not), now review/backtrack the calendar. Where were we then? Where were we while trying to figure it all out in the haze of life jacked up in physician appointments, therapies, special education, familial scorn, awkward glances, outright ridicule, asshole “friends”, working too much for shallow souled people and places, plus the other assorted diatribe that really didn’t matter. It sure piled up.

Now breathe.

Quantify the big and little changes from the last year (and prior years). Sweep off to uncover the foundation that has already been built to work from. Give credit, recognize true supports, cut superficiality and relationships that compete for any energy that’s less than positive. Stop trying to payoff neglect or abuse – their is no tender available. Quit competing, this is not a race. This is a life.

Now move!

Expand your sense of excitement. Consider the endless possibilities. Practice flexibility. Embrace a true career calling. Release your abilities. To relish the freedom…..

All in a New Year! ~ Wendy Frye

“To achieve, you need thought. You have to know what you are doing and that’s real power.” ~ Ayn Rand

Resolve

Considering resolutions for the coming New Year has a lot more meaning, or so it seems. Stepping back, taking care of my now adult son on the Autism Spectrum, I’ve been given a golden opportunity. The opportunity to take back my life too – refine my own “how I wanna live” goals – and move forward into a new beginning. Oh sure, eat right, exercise, breathe, payoff bills, and all that rot remains tattooed to the list. But this go around, on a philosophical level, will be the changes it takes to live how I wanna LIVE.

This time, I resolve to……:

Love with all I have,
Respect myself,
Be creative,
Start a venture, and succeed,
Work smart,
Leave negativity behind (including negative people)
Volunteer,
Keep family a priority,
Forgive those people who have worked against me, mine or ours (seriously, even the ones who say they are a friend),
Stay positive,
Become a role model,
Expand my garden, literally and figuratively
Create abundance,
Reach out to others who need a hand,
Get to know my neighbors,
Dig up the old, wonderful relationships I had to leave behind early on dealing with Autism in my home (I miss some people!)
Be grateful for having enough,
Live without regrets.

This coming years resolutions doesn’t start with the new calendar, nope, it starts right now. With the holiday festivities starting today – what better time for a new beginning. Seriously, we all made it through the Mayan end of times, didn’t we? Yes, yes we did……

Cheers! ~ Wendy Frye

“Nobody can bring you peace but yourself” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Missed Adventure

Sometimes, and you know when it happens, the Universe hands you your backside and you decide, with all the dignity you can muster, you must make a choice.

This happened, again, in our family the other day. Our oldest, diagnosed Autistic, graduated high school with honors – and we were set to celebrate. BIG! A vacation, a little time carved out for each other, traveling to a strange and wonderful place together. A time to explore the possibilities that the future has to hold. San Francisco! A haven for the artist within our oldest, and the dynamic venues available to our youngest – who’s thirst for knowledge will never be quenched.

Plans were drawn up, tickets bought and at the last moment, mayhem. Our dog sitter didn’t show up. It was at the last minute we realized how vulnerable the two little white dogs we love so fiercely had meant everything to us. The slippery slope of quick change for our oldest can make or break any adventure – and no amount of planning could so quickly derail all our efforts to take a break as a family and adverted the disaster that loomed Sunday morning.

She just didn’t show up. An agenda aside of our own, we never realized how a vindictive wife of my husbands friend could so easily change our fates. How her callous disregard for our sons victory dance to San Fran, after a long school career and the regaled graduation of our eldest. We trusted this person, who had known our family for 10 years, and had cut and styled or sons hair from the time he couldn’t cope with the sound of clippers in our home, the very person who just didn’t show up.

We proverbially woke up, shifted admirably, and I dropped off the three most important men in my life at the airport. At the break of dawn, there we were, plans blown up – and surprisingly the subsequent damage to our sons dream vacation was minimizing as the minutes ticked by.

What an alien feeling coming home, alone, to the dogs who were snubbed by the woman they saw only two nights ago, nuzzled and loved on her as they do us. A quick woe is me post on Facebook netted several phone calls from real friends willing to come over and salvage our plans.

No, we had already made the on the spot decision to send my husband solo with the boys. A male bonding adventure, complete with municipal traveling, arriving at the wrong hotel, with low blood sugared sons competing for security with the man they know as their father. He was just as alone as I, in a strange place – pulling up his big boy pants, he is now on point, determined to show his sons the time of their lives……..

My other mother, Cynthia, called me to talk it out. “The Universe is telling me something here.” , I say. “Yes, and everything happens for a reason.” She replied. We laughed out loud at how my husband went to the wrong hotel after I told him every day for 2 months that it was the Hyatt ON the Pier. (Who knew there were TWO Hyatt’s in San Francisco!) Really, they will be fine, and now – after two phone calls on day two, they are having a great time, without me – and that is the best news, ever!

I was disappointed for a while. But you know, navigating the lives of the members of my family so throughly and for so long nets me a little me time to call my own, too. It is worth what we are out for my plane fare and cost of a hotel bed for this, this forced bonding time for the boys.

Chasing the dogs back to bed from the front room window, where they keep watch for the rest of the family, kept me up most of the night. But alas, I had a long lunch with my mother in law today, one of only a hand full of times we’ve had 3 minutes to string together for each other. We went shopping, nixing the mall for the salvage stores and having a delightful bite at the local bistro. It was priceless spending time with her…..and I promised to do a better job in the future.

An era has come to an end. My two boys – they are not the babies I borne or the little boys I worried over for so long and so intently, especially the eldest with Autism. No, they are men of the world now. And their father? He is making the mutual memories with them to call his own with the two young men he helped craft over the years. Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful!

So right now? I’m going to eat Fritos and string cheese for dinner, chase the dogs off “Daddy’s Chair” and wait for the next phone call from my family. Spending time in boxer shorts, cruising the internet and Facebook has been delectable. Can’t wait to hear about the mis-adventures and experiences they have shared together – alone in a big city – without me, the navigator of the family.

A long, long time ago, my very close friend Jenny told me every year for Mother’s Day she spent 24 delectable hours alone at a local hotel with the explicit orders to her family that she was not to be disturbed. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES was she to be disturbed, and that meant blood too. It was her time to recharge – the mother of three children that includes twins all under the age of two years old, living under the roof of a single wide mobile home trailer. All the while raising them all at the same time. Her husband honored her wishes and she found her center, once a year – and now, I get it. Alone time is divine, in small doses actually therapeutic. OMG Jenn, I get it.

Thank you Universe – this time to myself is welcome. The hand dealt to my husband, alone with his boys also, again very welcome. Now please, move along to the next family, hand them theirs so they learn the lesson of solitude and sharing the responsibilities of life – and please, leave a little more time for us, the ones who have learned and honor your wishes. Because ultimately, all we have are our memories, and in the end? Its the time well spent, together, and apart – that is most remembered by all.

~ Wendy Frye

“Fathering makes a man, whatever his standing in the eyes of the world, feel strong and good and important, just as he makes his child feel loved and valued.” ~ Frank Pittman

Relations

When your family (immediate and extended) receives a diagnosis of “Autism” (seriously it doesn’t even BEGIN to matter where on the spectrum) ALL things change. The changes evolve in daily living, future plans and especially in the way one relates to the world.

Within the mindset we CHOOSE when our son was diagnosed 15 years or so ago, the mindset to heal and support his pursuit back to well, most of our superficial relationships fell off a cliff. Our extended families remained, and we stood still, for the most part, in “social time”.

Moving forward to today, when our boys (the astronaut and his heroic brother) are healthier and more mature, we are beginning to breathe again. Still we live in a certain and special framework, but are beginning to live a little more out loud. Life is good. We know it, and live it. Life is good.

Today, I just know that Zuckerberg got it right. The mighty, mighty Facebook really is AMAZING. I have to be one of the last people in the world who held out, never had the “time”, didn’t have the “gumption”, and wanted my “privacy”. Whatever. WOW! It is because of Facebook that I am inspired to write this blog entry. Since my social life fell off the cliff, it is a little simpler to look back at the relationships that really matter – and have been valid all these years since our “autism” diagnosis so long ago.

Initially, I had a handful of people to add to my “friends” list, sincerely they are the most important in my life.

For instance:

Janice, my first “other mother”, who nurtured me spiritually, told me OUT LOUD how cute I was and supported my friendship with her youngest son, Trent. Trent, my very first friend, who I re-connected with on Facebook a few months ago – he was and IS a superior educator. When I was in kindergarten and he was in 1st grade, it was Trent who took the time to tutor me in fractions. Yes, I was able to understand fractional math at the age of 5. I will never forget that moment – after I worked so hard in my bedroom to spell and write my name – that Trent went on to demonstrate how much more there is to know and learn. My first friend, Trent Ling, has gone on to surpass his education from Duke University to further educate the world. He shines brightest in the pictures of himself and his beautiful family traveling all over this world, and I am so proud to know him and someday I hope to meet up again with him and his family.

Trent’s family friend, Mrs. Shelley, was best friends with my now “other mother” Cynthia. Mrs. Shelley drove me, at the age of 5 or 6 years of age, between where Trent lived and where I live now. Mrs. Shelley, who was best friends with Cynthia, (my next other mother) knew I was so alone in this new place, wanted Cynthia’s kids to know me, too. What a boon! My other mother’s daughter, Jenny and I have been friends from that time to now. Cynthia’s youngest daughter, Laina, son Damon and I all still friends to share and celebrate family events. Thank you Barbara….I honor you here and thank you for your kindness and help when I was so young……again, I thank you.

Last night, Jenny, my long time friend, posted a picture of her Dad, James, on Facebook. It was his birthday, and she was reminiscing how long he had been gone (over 18 years) – I was so moved seeing his picture that I cried. I never cry….it is not in my soul or nature to do so since my son was diagnosed Autistic. Talking to my husband tonight, telling him how undone I was about the post of Jenny’s Father, my “other father”, reminded me to be grateful and thankful for the relationships I have, have had – and will always have in my life. Those enriching relationships where we will take a bullet for our friend – surpassing those who we would hold up as a human shield when fired upon.

Thank you, Janice, Trent, Cynthia, Barbara, Jennifer, Laina and Damon. I honor you all, here. Again – it really is within the relationships we have that we grow to be the people we are. I again, thank you all…… ~ Wendy Frye

“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” ~ Proverbs 22:6

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

Snip

Our favorite photo of our eldest son, aged 13 months, is the one where he is being propped up by his Dad after his first big boy haircut. Splendid moment shared with the gal who’s styled my husbands hair for over 10 years.

Too few years later, when my Mother wanted a shot of her grandkids, all of them together, one for her memory box. Off to KMart, all the kids posed for the camera. The photo of our youngest, just a baby, held by my niece is precious beyond belief. What a beautiful boy, and a striking young lady. My Mom was very pleased.

Our oldest, the one on the autism spectrum, only gave the photographer one shot. Still enveloped, in the basement are the copies – that shot reflects the painful truth – he was officially gone. His eyes reflected the void that consumed our beautiful boy. He checked out, only to return, on his own terms in small amounts over the many years up to now.

Turn on an electric razor, spray water on his head, talk too loud or fast while barbering the oldest triggered the panicked meltdown of the little boy who had lost all control of his environment. Sensory issues with kids on the autism spectrum impede their lives doing most or anything typical. Bath time, toilet training, brushing teeth, combing hair, all of it a living hell on their systems – and the family.

Enter Linda, my new friend and a shining light to our family circle. Linda and her husband Charlie, along with our friends Troy & Barb and (later) their kids all get together at our house every few weeks. We call the meetings “Haircut Parties”. Evolving from a tiny cry for help for my son to a new co-worker – I happened upon Linda professionally cutting hair of a salesman, in the service department of the Mercedes Benz dealership where we both worked. She happily agreed to be of help.

She came to our home. Rolled out her gear on the kitchen counter, pulled up the kitchen chair and invited our special needs son to jump up. She cooed, persisted, and ever so patiently worked her magic over him. She is one beautiful soul. Our boy liked her enough that night to accomplish the only other big boy haircut he’d had in over 2 years. Using only her scissors, it was with the patience and love he felt from her that got him to sit still long enough, to gain the trust of this stranger, letting her finish the job. Oh my, he looked very handsome – we quietly celebrated with smiles and a beer.

It’s been 12 years and we still meet – catching up for dinner and haircuts in our own timely manner. We’ve had several guests over the years, however, the core group remains. Charlie, Linda’s husband has become one of my husbands very closest friends. We all went through fertility treatments with Barb and Troy, their first blessed child that come along was Cole. The twins, Trent and Turner, arriving a little later to complete their family. Growing from babies to little boys. It has been exceptional to know them all.

I never know what to tell our friends to bring to share for haircut night dinners. The menu shifts from moment to moment, depending on what is happening in our lives the very day we scheduled the date. But the rule? It’s understood – come to our house, drop your stress at the door, pull up a chair, grab a drink, play with the kids, tease the dogs, and forget about everything else…we are here to celebrate. Celebrate the life we are living with special friends, good food, cold drinks and the knowledge that regardless of the rest, these moments – the fun and banter – really are what matters most in our world.

We honor you, Linda, Charlie, Troy, Barb and your boys……thanks for being our friends and understanding our beautiful boys. ~ Wendy Frye

“Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.”
~Albert Camus

Earl

Awwww, Annie. I didn’t know, wasn’t thinking, and honestly didn’t realize how hard you would take it last night. You were so happy to see me, “Hooray! Mommy’s home! I can relax! Hello, hello, hello!!” Sniff….”??????”

But it’s true, his name is Earl. He and his buddy, Murphy, are such good boys. Their Mom, my friend who styles my hair, she’s a self-confessed animal hoarder Not true, but she does have her fair share of family pets. Healthy, happy mini-farm full with critters and pets. Rural paradise.

He’s a blond Annie – with big, sultry brown eyes. Not like your black ones – striking against your white, fluffy fur – alert with the goings on in your life. No, his eyes are of the wise man, the dog who patrols the house, checks on his Mom from time to time to get a kind word, belly pet and meet her guests. Remind you of anyone?

His sidekick, he’s the skittish one. But together? They are so huggable, lovable and sweet – what was I to do? Pals, like you and the Lillster. Other people need pets too, big girl. And the kitty? Contrary to any other I’ve met – this one actively sought out my lap to be crooned and groomed.

You were instantly (intensely) curious about the blend of scents I brought back with me last night. Into YOUR home no less, how could I? It didn’t take your sniffer very long to process the subtle nuances – right before I saw you slump. Absolutely crushed. Totally betrayed that one of your own people, the one you battle with for the Alpha slot everyday, betrayed you, Lilly, and your boys.

I didn’t know, Annie. But, you are the responsible one of our pair of pups. Last night you took it upon yourself to be the brave one, slept in the closet with my pants, the clothing tainted by the stench of potential intruders to your life, threatening you enough, prompting your family clan to act like the eldest son of lore. You needed to protect your family.

Had to have been a rough night for you, tossing and turning. I pray you found a few minutes of rest, my dear. It’s true, you never EVER know, those trousers could have jumped on the bed at any minute and taken your spot by Daddy. The stress, it had to have been monumental.

Please, don’t tell Lilly, but you are our favorite. Must be the first child thing….we have made every mistake, blundered every training, given every treat, to ultimately screw you up the most. It’s not intentional girl – but destiny. We love The Lilly, too…don’t fret – but didn’t you notice something? She didn’t really care about Earl. No, it was about her and her chest pets last night.

The slacks have been removed from the closet, washed, rinsed, dried, ironed and put away. That’s your youngest charge, always protective of his girls and their feelings.

And the next time I see Earl? That date is set for 7 weeks from today, when my friend will again brighten my hair to make me presentable to the outside world. Earl will be there, kitty and Murphy, too.

You’ll be fine, my little Antoinette. I’ll give Earl, Murphy and the cat some pets that night. You will recognize the scents later, and remember – my pants didn’t take your throat, they were subdued in the closet. You will be just fine. Are you listening to me girl? Hey, are you shaping that bone into a shank? That’s pretty sharp over there, “Honey!”, where did the dog find that bone? Annie come! Annie sit! Annie, listen to me, don’t run away from me….ANNIE!?!

She’s The Annie, Annie Bannanie, and she completes us. ~ Wendy Frye

“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.”
Roger Caras