Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Living At Home Forever

After posting what I did yesterday I had a conversation with my mom. She is down in Arizona with her boyfriend and has followed Thomas's progress from there. She didn't know about the latest issue with Thomas's cognitive deficits but based on everything else we had dealt with with Thomas over the last couple of years she had some thoughts.

First of all she said that she and her boyfriend, Leighton, had discussed taking Thomas on small adventures. Leighton owns a boat and we're situated on a river and reservoir and Leighton wants to take Thomas out on the boat this summer. He invited the whole family because he understands how Thomas might not want to do this alone, just him and Thomas. Both my mom and I thought this would be fun for him and I opted out of the trip because I thought it would be fun for him to do something without me in his shadow.

Then Leighton talked about taking Thomas fishing. Leighton is an avid fly fisherman and he and my mom made tentative plans to take Thomas beginning with a small trip to a local pond just to do it for fun. Last summer when my mom and Leighton went fly fishing Thomas expressed a great interest in it and I told my mom yesterday that that was something Thomas would love to do eventually. I did ask my mom, however, to explain to Leighton that he would have to be VERY patient with Thomas because I know learning to fly fish takes patience and skill. Leighton promised that everything he did with Thomas he would do with patience and caring.

I have written about Leighton before but let me say this. He's a pretty gruff, tell-it-like-it-is man. He gets right down to business, pulls no punches and gets the job done. On the surface he sounds like the very last person Thomas needs in his life but underneath all of that hard exterior is a man who is growing to care a great deal about Thomas and want to help him grow into a man. To Leighton's credit, he has no reason to want to do these things as he is not married to my mom and is not related to Thomas. He has every reason not to get involved but because he loves my mom he is also finding himself caring a great deal about Thomas. This man is quickly becoming a grandfather figure to Thomas and for that I couldn't be happier.

As I write what I'm about to write, I am glad that Dan, my husband, is out walking the dog. I write this in sort of a secret way because the truth of the matter is, he is just not the father figure that Thomas has deserved his whole life with. That's not to say that Dan isn't good to Thomas but fishing trips and boat rides are things a father would do and are the things Dan would never do. Because of that, Leighton stepping up in the way he says he wants to, makes me happy because finally Thomas may have a life with a man in it who wants to help Thomas experience the world in new ways. Every little thing that Leighton might do with Thomas is something more that will add to Thomas's life experiences. I am all for that because I want Thomas to LIVE while he can, while he's stable, while--as long as Leighton is patient with him--he can learn new skills. I want Thomas to have a life outside of his little bedroom and computer and tablet. He DESERVES that, I think even more so because he has schizophrenia and it makes his life so small.

Then my mom and I had "the talk". This is also written in "secret" without Dan around because what she and I talked about was this:

Both she and I don't see that Thomas will ever move away from home. That's not to say that he won't learn independence (like making hamburger helper for example) but the skills it takes to live on his own, the emotional strength, the clear thought processes, and the fact that he could forget his meds or become unstable at some point alone in an apartment, all of them are things Thomas doesn't have and both my mom and I aren't sure he ever will. That's not to say he won't improve, I don't want to leave you with the impression that I have given up, however I am a realist and definitely for the foreseeable future Thomas is going to stay right where he is. The secret here from my husband, though, is that will mean a marriage where we will never be alone just he and I. He would hate knowing he's been sentenced to that. I, personally, don't see it as a sentence, I see it as reality. It will be up to him and to the both of us to find ways to keep our marriage fresh by relying on my mom to care for Thomas while he and I go away on a vacation or just go out to dinner.

The last couple of days have been reality checks for me and I have begun shifting my view of things in a different direction. It's one I have thought I'd be headed to in the past but had let go because Thomas became stable but I see now, with the cognitive deficits and the other challenges Thomas faces, that it will be a long time before I'm packing boxes for Thomas to move from this house to one of his own.

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