Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Sassy Aspie Mom turns 2!

Sassy Aspie Mom turned 2 last week. It is hard to believe that it has been two years since I sat down at my desk with my lap top in front of me and a cup of hot tea in hand. I had no idea what was going to end up on the screen. .

It had been a really stressful few months. We had moved; I knew very few people; and Hunter's hormones had reached an all-time high. Things were bad. My life was crazy! I didn't know how to handle his attitude. He didn't know how to deal with his emotions. Our family had come to a few crossroads, and I was at my breaking point. My husband sweetly said to me, "Why don't you start writing..." The rest is history.

As I sat at that desk, staring at the computer, I knew I needed to write for my sanity. I needed to get my feelings out; like therapy, an escape, a release of negative energy. What I didn't realize was that it would ignite a passion in me. It would get my creative juices flowing. It would give me something of my own.

Writing has truly been a blessing in my life, but the best gift has been the feedback from other parents. Many parents have thanked me for being so open and honest about our journey. Some have reached out because their child has been newly diagnosed or just to post positive comments. Other Autism Parent Bloggers have been welcoming and encouraging to me along the way. It has truly been an amazing experience!

When I began writing this blog, I wasn't aware of how wonderful my new adventure would be. I only knew how alone I felt. It never occurred to me that others were feeling the same way. Now I know. Now I get that the one common bond that unites Autism moms, dad, brothers and sisters, is that we often feel isolated. We want to be surrounded by others who truly get it. It is wonderful to be understood, supported and inspired by those who are living in the trenches every day!

I certainly don't have all the answers. Most days I don't have any answers at all! I'm just a mom doing the very best I can. Some days I succeed and other days I fail miserably. I don't know what's around the corner for "Sassy Aspie Mom," but I can't wait to find out. My hope is that it makes a few people feel a little less alone, and on days when things are tough, it gives hope.


Saturday, March 28, 2015

She believed in me...

My Grandmother died the morning of Wednesday, March 11th. The entire day was surreal.  I knew it was coming. It was no surprise, yet it was hard to believe she was gone. All that was left were years of memories.
Within the hour of her passing, I began making phone calls for her final arrangements. Hunter was on spring break and was still sleeping when I received the call about her death. When he heard me on the phone discussing flowers, he looked at me with a confused stare. I slowly took the phone from my ear and said, “I’m so sorry sweetie, Mama passed away this morning.” His response was, “Are you kidding me?” I gently said, “No.” He stared at me blankly, as if he didn’t know how to react. Then, he started asking me about our plans. He wanted to know days and times for our travels and what we would be doing when we got there.  He feels more in control when he know the timing of our plans for everything including dinner, ballgames, and weekend events, so I guess this was his way of gaining control of the situation. Then, he went on with his day, but stayed very quiet and introverted. 

I spent the rest of the day on the phone trying to get everything perfectly organized for her funeral, which was my way of taking control of the situation. It was the only way I could emotionally deal with it all.
My hubby left work early to pick up Grant from school. When Grant got home, I sat next to him on the sofa and told him Mama had passed away. He seemed unsure of himself, like he didn’t know if it was okay to cry or if he was supposed to cry or whether he needed to comfort me, so I told him it was okay to cry…he did, as I held him.
The rest of the day and next few day before we left for home were odd. We would all have moments of quiet sadness and moments of laughter. We were busy trying to get everything ready for the trip. Laundry, phone calls and last minute shopping were welcomed distractions from the harsh reality.
On the way home, I tried to write some words about my Grandmother. In my heart, I felt like I needed to write her eulogy. I needed to be the one to speak about this woman who was so special to me. My Grandmother and I had always been very close. I was her only grandchild and I looked up to her. People always told me I was the “apple of her eye”.  I was definitely a complete pain in her ass. We were both stubborn. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Our relationship was a unique blend of love, respect and a complete battle of wills.

My Grandmother loved me. I never had any doubts, but she would not hesitate to call me out. I could say anything to her. She made me demand more from myself because she demanded it from me.  She believed in me completely and always reminded me that I could be anything I wanted. She taught me the value of hard work and that respect is earned. 

The thing that has struck me most about my Grandmother’s passing is the realization of how much her belief in me shaped my life. I didn’t really realize how much it bolstered my self-confidence and helped me to dream big, until she was gone. Now, I know the importance of doing the same thing for my boys. I know the importance of making sure they know that I believe in them;  I believe they can do great things in life; I believe they can set this world on fire. Hopefully, they will believe it too!

My Grandmother is gone. Those words are unbelievably hard for me to type. However, the life lessons she taught me are here, and will live forever in my heart. They are the principles that guide me daily. They are gifts that will live on because I am teaching those same ideas to my boys, and hopefully they will pass them onto their children.  Losing her is hard, but it is because of everything she taught me that I’ll be okay in this life without her.


With overwhelming love and respect, I spoke these words at my Grandmother’s funeral on March 17,th:
I have been struggling for the past few days to find the perfect words to say about my Grandmother. It is so hard to describe what a person means to you when they are so intricately woven into your being. How do you put those feelings into words?
My husband said, just say what you have always told me. Tell them about your relationship with her; that you were with her almost every weekend growing up; how she taught you to do your best, speak your mind and always be honest.
Suddenly, I knew what to say…This woman I called “Mama” was not the baking cookies, sewing quilts kind of Grandmother. No, those were not her things. She was the drinking coffee, playing cards kind of Grandmother. She was hard working and a little hard headed but I learned so much from her.
Before I could write, she taught me how to use a typewriter. When I was in high school, she bought me a Franklin planner and showed me the importance of staying organized. I still use my planner every day and would be lost without it. From her, I learned the importance of reading and that surrounding yourself with great girlfriends will get you through almost anything in life. Most importantly, she told me I could be anything I wanted to be, and I believed it, because she believed in me.
My Grandmother was a tough nut to crack. Life wasn’t always easy for her, but she had an amazing resilience. She never complained. Instead, she just kept trudging through life with amazing strength and courage, living without regrets or apologies.
The weekend before she passed away, I held her hand and promised her I would be fine. I told her if she was too tired, she could let go because she had given me the tools I needed to be okay in this life. Then, I brought her hand up to my lips and softly kissed it…as I took her hand away, I felt a gentle tug as she brought my hand to her lips and gently kissed me back.
To tell you about my Grandmother means reflecting upon myself, because underneath it all, I am my Grandmother’s granddaughter, and for that I will be forever thankful.







Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Being thankful for the wonderful gift her life has been to this world.

The past few weeks have been tough. I got a call on Valentine’s Day that my Grandmother’s time was limited. It’s funny how drastic life’s ups and downs can be; how quickly things can change from one minute to another; how much one phone call or conversation can change your entire world.              
Being a parent is a tough job, and it is made even tougher by moments of sorrow. The idea of telling your kiddos something that will break their hearts seems unnatural. We spend our entire lives protecting them from pain, and during these times, there is no choice but to hurt them.
The day I found out about my grandmother, I sat both boys down and my heart raced as I explained, “Mama’s body is tired and she is telling us that she is done. Her life has been long and full…” They seemed to understand the best they could. I marveled at how differently they reacted.

 Hunter (my 14 year-old with Asperger's Syndrome) said, “Well, I’m not surprised, I have been expecting this for a long time.” He said it in a way that showed his sadness and pain, but he was very direct with his words. I assured him that feeling that way was perfectly fine because he had probably been preparing himself.

Grant (my NT 9 year-old) began to analyze what this would mean in his life (he is definitely my son)! He began to speak about how this would be the first death of someone he loved and how he would always remember it. He was very sad and confused about his emotions. I just held him, unsure what words could help in that moment.

When you are losing a loved one, your heart has to decide how to deal with the pain. You have to really contemplate what you can do to find peace. Living fourteen hours away from my Grandmother,  I had to do a lot of soul searching about whether I needed to make the trip to see her one last time. I finally made the decision that I would only feel right if I saw her again. It was going to cause lots of travel headaches and school conflicts, but I needed to get home. It was the only way to have peace in my heart.

I wanted to give the boys the option to see her one last time. I figured they were old enough to make that decision for themselves. I told them there was no right or wrong decision, but they had the option to go home and see her one last time.  I was so proud of both of them. They immediately told me how they felt.
Hunter immediately said, “I don’t want to see her again. I don’t want to remember her that way.” I totally understood how he felt. I had the same fear. I was so impressed with his ability to be in touch with his feelings and express his emotions.
Grant emphatically said, “I want to see her!!!” I knew he felt the same way I did. His heartstrings were being pulled. He needed the closure.

We began making the travel arrangements. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate. The snow just started falling and it seemed like it would never stop. We decided we had to put our travels off for a week.
By this time, my Grandmother was losing weight at a rapid pace and her eating had severely declined. I called and told her we were coming home to see her. She didn’t seem to understand much of what I was saying, but when I told her I was coming home, she weakly said, “when”. I knew in my heart that she was waiting on me. I called her several days that week to assure her that I would be home soon. Each time, she would ask how long until I would be home.

Finally, I made it home. I walked into her room. She lifted her head slightly to look at me, but no words were spoken. I sat down on the bed next to her. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I said my final goodbyes. I held her thin, fragile hand and tried my best to smile through the tears. I had no way of knowing for sure that she knew what I was saying. I just knew with every last bit of my soul that I had to get it all out, for me and for what was left of my Grandmother’s spirit.
I softly spoke to her, “I love you and I’m so sorry you have to go through this. You are an amazingly strong woman and I know this is not what you want. I just want you to know that I’ll be okay. I will be okay because you taught me how to be strong. I don’t want to lose you for selfish reasons, but I love you too much to see you like this. I just want you to know that if you are too tired, it’s okay."

I brought her hand up to my lips and softly kissed it…as I took her hand away from my mouth, I felt her gentle tug as she brought my hand to her mouth and gently kissed me back.
Losing her is hard, but I know she would expect me to hold it all together. I am trying to focus on the positive memories we have shared and focus on the wonderful gift her life has been to this world.