2021 marks almost two full years of this frickin pandemic. Coincidentally, December 19, 2021 also marks our 21st airline flight with our guys! This is quite monumental for 2 guys with Fragile X that never flew before 2016!
As we celebrate Christmas in Cancun, I find myself reflecting on the two years we've faced, like everyone in the world, and my emotions flow first toward sadness.
I'm sad that we've known 5 young men who lost their will to live during this dark time, including our Nephew.
I'm sad that the small-but-full world our boys live in day-to-day grew even smaller. For some with disabilities, it's been zero quality of life in this world.
I'm sad that I am not able to physically hug so many people that are important to me.
I can't wallow in that mind-set, obviously, so I choose to focus on the thousands of blessings I have to be thankful for, especially the people....the Angels. The Angels who are always there to help us, even in minute ways.
There's the Secretary at the church where Jake works, Miss Tammy, who often takes time to give him a full-page "print" of Mister Rogers, which he proudly and gently carries home.
There's the waitress at Chili's that is truly a part of our family now, Miss Jen. She finds time to text me every Wednesday to make sure we are coming for a visit so she can have our usual table, drinks at the ready, all prepped and saved.
There's one of Jake's favorite people and hair stylist, Lisa, who adoringly chats in "Jake-speak" every time he gets his haircut (4 weeks on the dot), and ends his visit with a hoodie hug.
Or, Joe's barber, Eddie, who makes him feel like Norm from "Cheers" every month, yelling along with all the guys in the shop, "Joe!!" Then, knuckle bumps all around.
There are numerous friends and neighbors that we have clung to during this time in an effort to assume some semblance of a new normal. We've shared numerous meals and delightful company together.
Our dear friends Tim and Kathi are always a soft place to land no matter what the situation, making travel especially adventurous.
Of course, we have the biggest daily blessing of all in our Daniel and Amanda who keep a watch over the guys like their own siblings. There is no possible way to equate their commitment in words.
The folks at the Ace where Joe has worked for going on 13 years, are amazingly dedicated to making him feel useful and loved.
If you've been kind enough to follow our whacky, quirky stories for any amount of time, you know we celebrate Christmas in a most unconventional way. We never wait until December 25th to open presents. The anxiety and lack of sleep for our guys would be insurmountable. Thankfully, I have the luxury of adjusting our visual calendar any way I like (devious Mom that I am).
This year I kindly asked Santa to grant me a favor....I asked him to come while we were at dinner on Friday, December 17th, and amazingly he did!!
Now, understand, thinking up new gift ideas for Jake (32), and Joe (30) is NOT easy. But, in other ways it's a breeze. After years of sleuthing and mystery solving, we figured out that what they really want in the mix are some consistent items like new sweat pants and DVDs. So, we buy those and then try to come up with one or two surprise items. This is where it gets complicated, but sometimes we hit the mark.
Five years ago we bought Joe a replica of an old pay phone for his room. If you want to see a vision of joy, come over any morning and take part in a call to 1 of 4 of his favorite restaurants! I printed out a "speed dial" menu, for example, 1 for Chili's, 2 for Red Robin, etc. He picks up the receiver, dials 2, then yells my name to come and participate by giving the verbal food order. I usually do one round and then remind him that we are "all done", then redirect (again, mean Mommy).
Many years ago, we secretly pocketed a Chili's menu and brought it home. After daily perusing by Joe, I finally had to laminate it to save it. We still have it many years later, and it's still a part of our daily routine. Joe grabs it from it's special spot on my desk at least 10 times a day, waving it in my face with a pleading look. So, I had a brilliant idea... surprise him with a menu from his beloved Red Robin!
I could go to the restaurant and ask nicely....but I had an Angel. Jake and Joe's friend, Katherine has worked at our local Red Robin for years, so I asked if she (with the help of her Momma, Pam) could get us one? A Christmas wish was granted.
Joe tore through his familiar fare then pulled out the menu from the gift bag. I wish I had been better prepared to capture the moment, but..... you know the story. So, here we are, 2 hours later, still holding tight on that menu...that free menu.....that ultimate gift menu. All granted by way of an Angel.
Each year, as parents, we learn the incredible value of the things money can't buy, and we are constantly reminded that Angels are all around us.
|Joe all goo-goo-eyed with his menu|
|Attempt #1 of the ultimate family photo|
|Attempt #2 of the ultimate family photo|