Saturday, February 14, 2015

Coming Out Of His Shell (A Thank You To My Husband Dan and My Mom)

Yesterday was a big day in our family. My mom has sold the house that she and my dad lived in (too many sad memories to live there without him by her side) and she bought a fabulous new house with an open floor plan, high ceilings and it's only 3 years old. Having lived in a 1930's house for so long, moving to a nice new house is a good fresh start for her.

Yesterday was moving day. Dan and Thomas jumped in like pros and worked hard to get as many of my mom's things moved to the new house so she could start making it feel like home. The bigger pleasure of the day, though, was seeing the Thomas that emerged from it all. He spent the entire day with Dan--something I wasn't sure if it would go all that well--and the two of them worked together like the best team ever and after a slow start, Thomas found his strength and his groove and jumped in wholeheartedly into a very manly role of lifting heavy furniture and trusting his dad to help him balance the loads as they worked together with the big stuff.

One of the big moments came when the satellite TV installer came to do his work and Dan took Thomas with him out to meet the man. He first introduced himself and then he said,

"And I would like you to meet MY SON Thomas."

You know, yes, Thomas is his son. Dan has raised him practically his whole life but somehow something gets lost in all of the complications of life and I rarely get to see this kind of thing. It's a beautiful thing. Dan considers Thomas his son and nowhere was that more evident than yesterday. I'll admit I was hesitant to leave the two of them alone but when I showed up at the new house after hours away from them, I could see that they had become a team, true father and son. Even better after having talked with Dan yesterday about Thomas's cognitive limitations, Dan worked beautifully with them and was patient even when Thomas forgot to bring him a tool a couple of times because he got distracted moving other objects. For the first time in a long time I felt safe leaving the two of them alone and I found myself backing away from a lot of the moments they shared so that they could solidify their relationship.

My being away most of the day also helped my mom and Thomas bond as grandma and grandson. My mom is not a conventional grandma. She's goofy, she tells it like it is and in a good way her boundaries are pretty lax. All of this makes for a fun relationship between Thomas and his grandma. The two of them were inseparable during parts of the day and I caught the two of them sharing hug after hug, Thomas often comforting my mom in her tears and sadness about leaving the home behind she once lived in with her husband, my dad. Yesterday Thomas became the most expressive, most loving young man even coming to me several times for hugs. I had told him the other day that I had seen on the Today Show that studies have been done and people need something like 5 or 6 hugs a day that last 6-10 seconds in order to cement a bond and release whatever feel good hormone that is released in the brain. At one point Thomas came to me for a hug and he said,

"I'm trying to get my six hugs in for the day."

I held him so tightly willing my love to reach between our hearts and heal him as much as is possible.
Then at one point he came to me and he told me that he forgot to take his morning meds. I kept checking in with him all day to see where his mind was and finally he came to me and said that he had had a paranoid thought. He told me that this one he was going to write down and put in the buckets that Dr. K. made him. Remember the buckets? In one he is supposed to write on one side of a 3x5 card the "schizophrenic thought" and on the other side he's supposed to write a challenge for it. We joked together how the buckets could use a card since he had yet to put one in because he's been stable. We both felt bad that Dr. K. had lovingly built these buckets and this plan for Thomas and then Thomas got stable and the schizophrenic thoughts went away. I expect Thomas will carry his bucket to his next session and share the thought with Dr. K. The whole thing, though, was really rather cute because we both, strangely enough, were kind of happy that there was a schizophrenic thought to put in those empty buckets that reside on his bedroom floor. One thing was evident though is that if Thomas forgets his meds, this illness roars back to life in a matter of hours. Imagine if he went a day without them. Not something I care to entertain that much myself.

In the end, at the end of moving day, Thomas got a new computer chair, the one that had belonged to his grandpa and he got a TV for his room. He was very excited. My mom also slipped him $100 for all of his work and Thomas came home to me with plans already in place for the money.

Yesterday I watched my son blossom. He became talkative, expressive, funny, loving, helpful, strong both physically and mentally and he accomplished something he could be proud of. I loved that young man that came home to me last night and I am so happy that despite missing his meds and his illness sneaking back in a little bit, he had fun both with his dad as father and son and with my mom as goofy grandma and grandson.

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