Statistics And A Week Off

I’m currently in the middle of taking “Applied Healthcare Statistics” as part of my bachelor studies. Being off from work all week you would think I buckled down and tackled the class with a vengeance. Nope…I had good intentions but good intentions only go so far.

I had a great week off, I slept in some days (I don’t sleep past 8am; don’t ask) did some major cleaning out of my closet and Samantha’s room and organized my under the bed storage. Oh and I went with Lelly to help her pick out her first major adult purchase. She’s decided to not dorm again after this semester is over and wanted to replace her twin size mattress with a full size mattress. The sales woman was great and we had a fun time picking out the perfect mattress for her.

This morning I hit the Sal Val and scored an incredible Fendi bag. I knew what it was the minute they put it out. It was hanging up behind the counter and I asked the sale girl if I could see it. Found all the marks to tell me it was authentic and kept it close by my side until I checked out. I wanted to skip to my car after!

So getting back to statistics. I suppose the party is over and I need to get back to my class. It’s not an easy class. I have never heard one person say they found it easy so that makes me feel better to find the class a bit challenging. I find I need to read the material and then take notes and then read over my notes. This is all online. Then there are practice tests after each module. Some tests I totally bomb on and that’s ok, I don’t beat myself up over that. I just keep taking practice tests until I feel confident that I’ve mastered that section and then move forward. The college I am attending is great with creating a sense of community and they really encourage communication. I have a mentor. She’s been great and very supportive. And my instructor encourages me to set up phone appointments with her to go over work that I have questions about. I am happy and impressed with the support they offer.

Monday will come soon enough and it will be back to work. It’s all good, I miss (most of) my co workers. It’s funny because at work everyone counts down the weeks and days until the next break, then everyone says big goodbyes to each other when the break is upon us. It’s nice, really. You’re with the same people day in day out for so many hours a day. You can’t help but get close. You don’t get close to everybody of course, there’s some people you can’t wait to take some time away from. Eh, it’s all good.

Friends who Become Family

I read recently this quote, “Friends are family you pick yourself.” It’s so true. My husband, myself and our children have been very fortunate to know what it’s like to have friends that we’ve picked to be part of our family.

I have a best friend that I’ve known since we were 17 years old. Considering that we both turn 50 this year that’s a long freaking time to know someone. Way back when we were teens we were very close and then our lives took different turns. We lost touch for a little while; until I ran into her mother one evening. Her mom updated me and said I should give my friend a call. I don’t remember who called who first but we reconnected and I’m so glad we did. Due to busy lives (and who isn’t busy these days?) we don’t talk as often as we would like, but when we pick up the phone or text we fill each other in and it’s as if no time has passed at all.

I have a soul sister who lives in Wisconsin and we met when my son was 6 years old. He’s now 23. Seventeen years… unbelievable. We’ve been there for each other even though geographical distance might make that seem impossible; for us it’s a mere inconvenience, something we’ve been able to work around. She supports me and I support her, through the good, the bad and the ugly.

There are also very close friends who my husband and I have known since high school who live nearby. Friends we go to dinner with on a regular basis and those who house and pet sit for us when we go away on vacation. That is not friendship that is family. People you trust to be in your home when you’re not there. A friend who takes a 2 hour car ride with you both ways (and stops to shoe shop on the way back) so you don’t have to go alone because that’s what friends do and that’s how much that friend loves you and you would do the same for them if given the chance. That’s beyond your typical friendship that’s family.

My family has been incredibly blessed. It’s more than what those non blood family members have done for us and us for them. But also the emotional support we give each other unconditionally. The no judgement zone that exists with such relationships. That’s not to say differences of opinions never come up; they do but because you’re family you get over them.

Treasure and pray for all your family members. They’re all in your life for a reason. God places these people in your life to love and to give you even more family than you thought you had.

There‚Äôs Always a Way

When Thomas lived at home I would bring him to church, I would bring all the kids to church. They were young enough to attend what was called “Kidz church” and it was held in the gym. The staff knew Thomas was special needs and would keep the older 3 together and it was really helpful to me. Samantha would go to a program for 3-4 yr olds. This went on for a couple of years until Thomas was too old to attend that program and he would sit with Tommy and Alyssa and I during the traditional service. He would talk; a lot. And he didn’t use a “church voice.” So most Sunday’s at church were interesting with him in attendance. No one ever commented or said anything to us. My church is pretty accommodating of people with special needs.

After Thomas started attending residential school I continued to attend church with the girls. Thomas, being away at school did not attend church anymore. When him and I were together I would ask him if he believed in Jesus and he would always say yes and smile. I would tell him that Jesus loves him and that he died for him and Thomas wouldn’t say anything but he would smile.

During one home visit Thomas told me he sings about God. I froze and said, “What? What do you mean?” Thomas said that the staff at school puts on music about God and he sings to it. I almost fell over; in a good way. I called the school and asked to speak to a staff member during the evening time. I asked them if they play worship music, that Thomas told me they did. The person on the other end of the phone was very nervous and answered, “Yes, we put music on for the kids…”. I quickly said I know it’s Christian music and it’s ok! That we are Christian and I was glad they were playing worship music with Thomas! God found a way to make His presence known even when I couldn’t be there to take Thomas to church. They were having “church” right there; His presence was right there.

When Thomas first moved to his group home here I took him to church with me. It was a scenario I often daydreamed of when he was away at residential. That when he came to live here we would attend church together every Sunday and we would bond and it would be great. Well it didn’t quite work out that way. Thomas talked during the message even louder than when he was younger. He would also complain loudly that he needed a tissue for his nose. One Sunday when I didn’t have a tissue a woman sitting behind us gently tapped my shoulder; holding a tissue. I wanted to hug her. After a few weeks of this I stopped bringing Thomas to church. I was only getting aggravated. He wasn’t disappointed that I stopped bringing him and even said he didn’t want to go when I asked him.

The other night after dinner, Alyssa and Sam and Samantha and I were playing a game. Thomas was walking around and started singing. It was sweet, he wasn’t saying any particular words just singing to his own tune. Then he put both arms up in the air and we all stopped and said, “What are you doing?” Thomas answered, “Jesus, it’s Jesus!” He was worshipping by himself in my house. How great is that? Thomas then said that one of the staff at his house worships with him. I love this. God finds a way, when you think there isn’t a way he uses people who don’t even realize they’re being used to let His love shine through. Thomas is reminded regularly that he is a child of God, that God is to be worshipped and that we sing praise to him. I know who the staff member is who is guiding my son to God. God makes a way.

My Thomas

Just about every Sunday we have our son Thomas over for dinner. Sometimes when I pick him up around mid afternoon we’ll go shopping or if he needs it get him a haircut. This past Sunday he needed a haircut so that’s what we did. The young man who cut his hair was probably not much older than Thomas. He was very polite, patient and just all around good. I was impressed. Some days it’s not easy to give Thomas a haircut and we only get him buzzed, Thomas doesn’t want anything on top like a flip on top. Marc, the name of the barber not only buzzed him, he also shaved Thomas. And then he gave us his card so we could make an appointment next time if we wanted. The shop is on Morningstar Road across from the McDonalds if anyone local is interested.

It’s no secret that Thomas lives in a group home with 7 other male residents about 10 minutes from our house. There are times I wish he still lived at home, like now. Thomas has been going through a med reduction. The nurse Peggy at the group home was convinced that he was on too much medication and a few months ago the psychiatrist started reducing and changing the times of Thomas’ medications. I was quite wary at first, he was on those meds for a reason. But Peggy persisted and gave solid rationales and I said ok. Well my son is doing great! He’s so pleasant to be around and his vocabulary has increased. Thomas is using words in the proper context that he never used before. An example is him asking me if I “enjoyed my dinner.” Thomas never used the word “enjoy” before in his life. Little things like that make you so happy. And him being so pleasant to be around…well you wish things were different. Like that he was living with us. There’s no way we would give up his group home placement; I just wish things could have been so much more typical when it comes to him.

But all things happen for a reason and only God knows the why’s and why not’s to His grand plan of events. I’ll wonder if I’ll ask my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ questions about Thomas when the day comes that we are face to face. Or will I suddenly gain appreciation and understanding of this life and see how all the pieces fit? Will I even care to ask since being in the presence of the Great I Am will surely be ever so sweet and rewarding and beautiful.

I don’t think I would change anything about Thomas even if I could. I used say I would change him not for me but for him. That Thomas’ life would be easier. But who’s to say that it would be? Who’s to say what Thomas would have been like if he were a typical person. Perhaps Thomas is just the way he’s always supposed to have been.

Thomas is made in God’s image the same as any of us. And God made Thomas; Thomas the same way he made Lelly and Alyssa and Samantha and all of us they way we are. Thomas has many gifts that I know were given to him by the Father so that his life wouldn’t be so hard. Thomas is very resilient, doesn’t mind blood draws and doctors visits and understands when you are being sarcastic. He’s well liked, sweet and all around a nice person. I remember when Thomas was around 10, a social worker at his school told me that Thomas was very well liked by his peers there. That “Thomas is a nice kid; you can just tell and the other kids see that and want to be around him.” I was so happy to hear that. You know your kid and to hear an unsolicited compliment especially when things aren’t ideal totally means the world to you.

Seeing Thomas respond so well to the med reduction makes me feel like we came out the other side. Tommy and I see the difference in him and it’s a wonderful feeling to enjoy being with him. One day at a time.

2 Years

My Dad’s been gone 2 years now. In some ways it feels like he died yesterday and it other ways it seems like he’s been gone longer. I miss him, I really miss him. In ways I never thought I would miss him. I miss telling him things that he would appreciate. Like how it took me all summer to learn how to ride a motorcycle and pass my road test. He would have gotten a big kick out of that. And telling him about work and the people here. Both students and co workers. I come in contact with very interesting and often entertaining people. When I work the after-school program I often talk to the custodian who takes care of the second floor. He is a very colorful smart character. My dad would have loved to hear about him.

I would love to tell my dad that I love my job, and I’m back in school. I never thought those two things would ever happen and he knew that. I know he knows all things about my life but I would have loved to tell him in person and have him be here.

I miss my dads sense of humor. He loved to laugh, be with us and to tell stories of his life. If you were to tell him something that happened to you he could often relate and had a story to tell in return. Nothing brought a smile to his face faster than me telling him something my kids were doing. I remember one time some years ago I had my dad over for lunch when Lelly was like 4yrs old. She insisted on squeezing the mustard on her sandwich. I couldn’t convince her other wise. Of course there was a ton of mustard all over the place after she was done. My dad still brought that up years later and he still laughed.

My husband recently bought a new motorcycle and had it custom pinstriped. It came out unbelievably gorgeous. On the back of his bike he had the guy write “In memory” of his dad and mine. My dad would have loved that. Seriously.

There’s not a Saturday that I go thrifting that I miss telling him about the people I meet and talk to and my great finds of course. He loved to tell me how his mother went to the thrift shop when he was growing up and about the things she found. When I would score a great deal he would exclaim, “It was a shoppers sky!” He really made me laugh and totally understood my love of the thrift.

Two years and I still cry when I write about him. The mark of a great person.

A Fellow Mom

One of Lelly’s friend’s mother, Lauren passed away early this morning. I was friendly with her, our children went to the same grammar school and we would be invited to barbecue parties back in the day. She was a very nice person. An honest person and she was a great mom to her 3 children. A great mom who didn’t get enough time with those children.

Lelly informed me that Lauren passed away while I was in Shoprite grocery shopping. I felt so so sad. It really hit close to home. Lauren had been ill for the past 3 years or so and Lelly would keep us updated on her condition because she was in and out of the hospital quite a bit.

I’m so sorry and sad that Lauren passed away. That her children have to go through the rest of their childhood and adulthood without their mom. It’s truly unfair. However I know she is with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. She has passed over to heaven. That’s what I find comfort in. She’s no longer in any kind of pain, she’s up and about and doing whatever she wants to do. I remember after my father died I read a quote from the late Billy Graham. “We take our last breath on earth and our first breath in heaven.” It’s an amazing image to picture. I imagine my dad and Lauren taking that first breath in heaven and being so full of life, healthy and robust and free of pain.