Well, I think this has been the longest time I have gone between posts! So much has happened in between December and now, and I am finally ready to play “catch up!” 😉 (I’m starting this writing on the night before Lindsay’s first day of kindergarten, so I might be a bit emotional, as well!)
In December, right before Christmas, my parents took our family and my brother’s family on a Disney Cruise! It really was the best time, and it is hard to say who enjoyed it the most! If you know Disney, you know they think of everything, and this was no exception! What’s not to love about being waited on hand and foot for a few days?! Lindsay enjoyed every minute of it, too, and I might have loved dressing her up in all the Disney outfits! 😉 Unfortunately, the boys think cruising ought to be a yearly tradition. I have sad news for them, unless they are planning on getting jobs in the near future!
I turned forty in January, and all of my boys made sure to make me feel as old as possible, by decorating the house with “caution” signs, and getting me a cane that squeaks. I still vividly remember my mom turning forty, so I’m not really sure how it happened to me so soon! 😉
In March, we celebrated birthdays, and we celebrated a life well-lived . On March 7, my grandmother, “Granny,” passed away unexpectedly. She was ninety years old, but I think a part of me thought she would outlive us all! I’ll share some of what I wrote to be read at her funeral, but first I want to remember the last time we saw her. We went to a restaurant to celebrate my sister-in-law’s birthday after church, on the Sunday before she died. It was a pretty perfect day. My boys and my nephew had the best time playing outside at the restaurant, and I noticed Granny just soaking it all in. She stayed at the table and entertained Lindsay, and we took her home afterwards. After she got in the front seat of our van, I noticed she was breathing strangely. I first thought she was laughing, but soon discovered she was trying to catch her breath. She seemed to be okay after awhile, and even joked around about wondering if she were going to outlive her dog, or vice versa. (By the way, he’s now living with us, and we call him “Great Uncle Beau.” )😂😂 I helped Granny up the stairs of my parents’ house and made sure she got in okay. Most importantly, I put her “take-home” box of banana pudding in the refrigerator for her to enjoy later. 😉😉
Fast forward two days, and I got a phone call from my mom late in the evening letting me know that she thought she’d “lost” Granny. A lot happened in between that call and when she peacefully went to heaven, but the following is some of what I wrote for her funeral:
“Always be kinder than you feel.” Those words are written on a huge print in my house, but if you know my Granny-these are the words she lived by. She had a gift for ALWAYS being kinder than she felt. She had a way of making you feel as though you were the most special, important person in the room. Most importantly, she was devoted to prayer. That was her answer for everything.
Granny LOVED our children. When I had Carter and Cason, she would come over to rock them, help feed them, iron clothes, vacuum my house-just whatever needed to be done. She loved to watch them as they’ve gotten older. She would get so “tickled” at some of the things they’d say and do. She had a special connection with Lindsay Ruth. I feel certain that when we learned of Lindsay’s diagnosis, Granny prayed more than anyone. Every Sunday at church, she would just sit and grin at her and her sweet brothers. I know she still is. Granny taught us all how to choose joy, no matter the circumstance.
When Mom called me Tuesday night, she said, “Laura, I think I might have lost Granny.” It didn’t register at first–I thought, “It’s late. Isn’t she usually asleep by now? Where did you lose her? Where have you looked? She couldn’t have gotten very far.” After all, she had seemed fine earlier in the day. Now that I know what she meant, I realize it’s not true at all. We didn’t lose her. She’s not lost. She’s exactly where she’s always longed to be. She’s rejoicing in heaven!
When Carter and Cason turned eleven on March 20, I think I still expected Granny to call and do her famous rendition of Happy Birthday! I am forever grateful, though, that they got to know her, and that she got to know and love Lindsay. Every time I would update this blog, Granny would have my mom print it out, so her “old eyes” could read it with her huge magnifying glass!
As we know all too well, life goes on. The boys “graduated” onto middle school in May, and Lindsay finished preschool. We spent much of our summer at the pool, which is quite possibly Lindsay’s favorite place! There, she can get out of her chair and just be a kid. She absolutely loves being in the water and splashing for hours. Each year as she gets a little older and grows a little more, she obviously gets a few more stares in her direction. I observed something very interesting at the pool this summer, though. While some children would just glance at her, look away, and go on with whatever they were playing, some would automatically sit down beside her and try to engage her. Mostly, I would just sit to the side and watch the interaction, only speaking up if I felt it necessary. Sometimes I might explain to them that they can talk to her, but she would not be able to answer them. On one occasion, a little girl asked me if it would be okay for her and her friend to splash Lindsay, because they noticed how much she likes it! I was just fascinated by how it comes naturally to some children to be inclusive, and that most really don’t care so much about what makes them different.
On the other hand, as she is getting older and getting more “stares,” I see how much it bothers her brothers. I’ve sort of had to learn to develop a tough “shell,” in order to not break down when I notice others, noticing her. A few times this summer, kids would just come right out and ask, “What’s wrong with her?” “Why can’t she walk/talk?” I usually explain that she is still learning, and that’s how she was made, but the boys sort of freeze if someone asks them. When we were putting Lindsay back in her wheelchair one day, a girl who was around the boys’ age asked Carter what was wrong with her, and why couldn’t she just stand up. I waited to see if he would answer, but saw the shocked look on his face and decided I should probably step in. I gave a short explanation to the girl, but Carter just couldn’t seem to let it go. He kept saying how rude it was for her to ask, etc. I explained to him that instead of looking at it that way, he could use it as an opportunity to educate others. Unfortunately, that won’t be the last time someone asks, and folks don’t always have the kindest way with words. 😕 Later that evening, Carter said, “I should have told that girl that nothing is wrong with Lindsay. She just wishes she had a sister that cute!” He’s also started saying that Lindsay has, “special abilities,” rather than “special needs.” I agree.
One of our last days of going to the pool this summer, a lady approached me and told me that she and her children had been watching me and the boys with Lindsay all last summer. She noticed how sweet they were with her and how they just did whatever needed to be done. She then told me that she had lost a baby after 8 weeks, some time ago, and has since adopted several children. She had sensed that God was calling her to adopt a child with special needs for quite some time. (The child she lost had been born with a very rare syndrome, as well.) She said after seeing us at the pool one day last year, she called her husband and told him that she was ready to begin the adoption process again. She and her kids had watched how much my boys love Lindsay, and they just felt that they could give that love to a special child. You can imagine the looks on our faces as she was relaying all of this to us. She then introduced us to her newly adopted daughter, who happens to have Down Syndrome. I mean, I didn’t even know what to say to her. To think that we were just carrying on with what we think is “normal,” and we had no clue what God was doing. We didn’t do anything. We were just at the right place at the right times. Don’t think for a second that He can’t take your everyday, “messy, normal,” life and do something beyond your comprehension with it. I’m telling you, my girl may not walk or talk, but God is using her story to reach many we may never even meet.
Probably my favorite thing about this summer was the “Tri My Best Triathlon,” that Lindsay participated in, with Carter and Cason as her kid buddies and Miss Kaeleigh, as her adult buddy. Cason saw a pamphlet advertising the event at Lindsay’s therapy clinic and brought it home to read. He kept saying that he and Carter should do the race with Lindsay, and I thought it would be a great opportunity for all three of them. It really was the neatest thing I’ve witnessed in as long as I can remember! Every participant had a buddy or two to assist them in completing the swim, bike, and run events. For Lindsay, the swim portion meant that Carter tied a raft around his waist, and pulled her in it, while Cason swam behind helping guide. The biking portion consisted of both boys taking turns pushing her in an adaptive tricycle. Finally, the running portion included the boys both running around the track, while pushing Lindsay in her wheelchair. The best part of the day, and the part I still get tears over every time, is when the three of them were about to cross the finish line. The boys had discussed prior to the race that they wanted to get Lindsay out, and assist her in actually walking across the finish line instead of pushing the wheelchair across. I have watched the video of the finish countless times, and every time I notice something different. While they were still running the track, the D.J. was playing the song, “We are Family.” As soon as they got Lindsay out to finish, the song, “All By Myself,” started playing. Oh my. I think time stood still for just a moment, while I watched my boys help Lindsay out of her chair. Carter made sure she stood up, and Cason got down on his knees, and literally took each of her ankles in his hands to “walk” them past the finish. Right as she crossed the line, Lindsay looked up and gave the biggest grin! It was as if she were so proud of what she’d just done, and I’m pretty sure it was the highlight of a lot of our lives.
A song I’ve been hearing frequently on the radio is called, “Life Changes.” It talks about how quickly things change, and how we can wake up one day and nothing is the same. We’ve had so many changes over the last year, and I know that will only continue. The biggest one I’m currently experiencing is that Lindsay is turning six and has already started kindergarten. When I went to take her in for her kindergarten assessment, it was almost comical. Carter and I were sitting in the hall, listening to her giggle her way through her meeting with her teachers. I looked around and noticed all of the other mothers that were anxiously waiting while their children were “performing” for their teachers. This time around kindergarten is much different than when I took my two boys six years ago. Most parents are hoping their children know all of their sight words and are already reading. I’m just hoping my daughter is loved and that the other children will be kind to her. Of course, I’ll be thrilled if she gains some new skills toward independence, but I’ll take “loved” and “accepted.”
We’re only a few days into kindergarten, but I can just tell that Lindsay is so happy! I wrote a little book that I went and read to her class about her in order to answer any questions they might have. My favorite question from a little boy after I had finished reading was, “Can she run?” Maybe not now, but there will come a day when everything that holds her back here on earth will disappear. I can only imagine!🙌🏻
I’m obviously going through a pretty huge adjustment period, but I know I’ll eventually get used to this new “normal.” I have been delivering groceries on the side for almost a year now, so hopefully, I’ll get to do that some more. It’s a fun job that allows me to do a little something for myself and meet new people! When you are so used to taking care of someone every second of the day, it feels really strange to all of a sudden not have every minute occupied! Thank you for continuing with us on this journey, as we learn and grow through so many of our life changes. And, Happy 6th birthday to the most beautiful little girl in the world!
Until next time,