autism, family, holidays, joy, leap of faith, Love, Morgan, risks and rewards, Uncategorized

Family Gatherings

“I am brave. I am bruised.  I am who I’m meant to be.  This is me.” – Lettie Lutz in The Greatest Showman

Reconnecting with family can be very joyful; going over old memories, catching up on hugs, sharing what’s new,…  but for Morgan, it can also bring a lot of anxiety.  A couple of the hallmarks of autism are the difficulties with social interaction and communication.  This is partly due to the inability to understand other people’s thoughts and feelings.

Not saying family is scary, but whenever any large group of relatives come together, there are numerous opportunities for things to go awry for the best of us.  For Morgan, “too many friends” for “too long”, with no understanding of when the shindig is going to wrap up,  can make her “all done” much earlier than the rest of us.  For this reason, in the early years, I became more and more weary of family gatherings.  Little by little, I backed off, encouraging everyone else to carry on without Morgan and Mom.

Now Morgan is 25.  Her cousins are grown and married, with kids of their own.  We’ve missed a lot of years.  Since her dad and his sisters all have summer birthdays, we decided to gather to celebrate.  This time, to relieve my anxiety, we called ahead with a game plan.  We had the conversation with family, letting them know that Morgan may have to come for a short time, and then take a break.  And It wouldn’t be because anyone did anything wrong.  It would just be the best way for everyone to have a good time.

   Peggy Jackie and Rudy.JPG Rudy and his sisters

Morgan meeting her new cousin, who lives in Canada now

We booked a hotel nearby, where Morgan and I could retreat when needed.  We really enjoyed seeing family again.  When she was “all done”, we left dad to relax and continue catching up with everyone.  We went for a swim, took walks, rides, and naps, and came back ready to visit some more.  She told me twice that weekend, “I doing a good job.  I’m trying to be brave.” 🙂 She did do well.  I’m thankful for how far she’s come.  I’m thankful for learning to drop the veil, and be brave enough to have the conversation, so we can just be ourselves.  It turned out to be a very enjoyable visit.

 

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy Vice and Family

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caregivers, faith, family, joy, Love, Uncategorized

Nothing Up Her Sleeve

“And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.” 1 John 4:16

When I was young, some of my favorite memories were spending time at my grandma’s house.  There was nothing extraordinary about the visits.  Every day was pretty much the same. She was either cooking, washing, cleaning, chasing my cousins and me, tending to my aunt Laura Mae, or ironing clothes for “customers”.

Grandma Edmonds was a “One Woman Show”.  She kept one of those big old family bibles open on her kitchen table.  I’d see her sit down from time to time to sift through it quietly.  Come to think of it, that was the only time I remember seeing her pause from her labor.  Day in and day out, that was her life.  Even with all the busyness, there was a peace in her house.  I loved thumbing through the pages of that old bible, looking at all the pictures, hearing her whistle old hymns from the kitchen, while she baked.   I felt safe.  I felt loved.  The song below was written about those memories.

Grandma Edmonds’ Daily Bread

    Grandma Edmonds' BibleFamily Bible 1 John 4

Pictured above – Grandma Edmonds’ Family Bible

Before all of us grandkids came along, Grandma Edmonds had raised my mom, and four other children, on her own.  Her daughter, Laura Mae, had physical and intellectual disabilities, due to spinal meningitis.  It was clear to see that caring for Laura Mae was a labor of love for my grandma.  I remember her speaking softly and sweetly to her, while she fed her.  She’d tell her how pretty she was when she combed her hair.  She’d gently rub her arms and legs to relax her muscles.  Laura Mae was safe.  Laura Mae was loved.

“There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, … We love God because He first loved us.”    1 John 4:18,19

Laura Mae ChairLaura Mae and Mamaw

My Aunt Laura Mae

Laura Mae Bed

From my grandma, I learned the value of every life.  I learned that I can do whatever I need to do, with joy.  I understand that nothing is accomplished by wishing, but prayer and little elbow grease can bring about some amazing outcomes.  There are no fairies, but there are plenty of angels among us.  The stories in that old bible are not fairytales.  They are practical, factual, powerful words of life.  There was no magic up my grandma’s sleeve.  Although, Love IS a miracle.

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy

 

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dance, family, joy, Uncategorized

Are We Having Fun Yet?

“When you get the chance to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance.” – Mark Sanders & Tia Sellers 

Allison gets her work ethic from her dad.  She’s seen him leave home before daylight, and come home after sunset all her life.  His dad did the same.  I admire their “sticktoitiveness”.  But there are times when the job is thankless, when no one is applauding.    That’s when the Mom in Me pleads with them, in order not to burn out, we have to have a balance.  When our world feels more like an endless ride on a roller coaster, after eating a footlong chile dog, we have to stop and get our footing.

Recently, I attended the WOW festival in Cookeville, and enjoyed seeing Allison dance again.

Allison Dance

I love my daughter.  I’m proud of all she’s accomplished, but I’m happiest for her when she’s happy.  I hope she continues to dance, physically and spiritually.

Sing your song picture

I hope she’ll always take the time to locate her joy.  And I hope I can talk her dad into a waltz or two.  😉

Daddy Daughter Dance

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy

 

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family, Uncategorized

A Jack of All Trades & A Master of Many

I’m not a jack of all trades; I’m a master of many. I don’t feel there is anything I can’t do if I want to. – Evel Knieval

This March, we’ll be celebrating Papaw’s 80th birthday.  I wouldn’t call him Evel Knievel, but in his lifetime, he has seen and done a little bit of everything.

Long before most household repairs and improvements required either a license or a permit, my dad had no problem getting the job done.  He was a machinist by trade, but he also served as our resident plumber, carpenter, electrician,… He may have had a unique approach to some things, but the end result was usually masterful.

When dad wasn’t working, he was busy inventing and creating things.  I remember him having projects going on in the backyard all the time.  He built a plane, a submarine,…  Not models, The Real Life-size Working Things.

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As a boy, he was flying planes before he was old enough to have a driver’s license.  He’s enjoyed deep sea diving, fishing, treasure hunting, and traveling.

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Now he volunteers full time with Meals on Wheels, and is passionate about taking care of “his people”.  He’s also a bit of a poet and a painter. I don’t think there’s much he hasn’t done, or couldn’t do. But I’m most grateful for his Papaw skills. My girls are as different as night and day, and somehow he has managed to be up to the tasks.

Love you Papaw!  Happy 80th Birthday!!

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy Vice

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family, Uncategorized

A Cardinal, A Squirrel, And a Wake Up Call

“Call your mother. Tell her you love her. Remember, you’re the only person who knows what her heart sounds like from the inside.” ~Rachel Wolchin

Recently, I was on the phone with my mom.  I was in the middle of telling her something I thought was important at the time, and she stopped me to let me know she saw a cardinal and a squirrel on the ground near the bird feeder.  🙂

I love phone calls with my mom. I know there are always going to be a few conversation detours. I hear about her latest trip to the store, if there were any good deals, how friends are doing, and what they’re up to. She’ll tell me which chores she’s gotten done, and how much more there still is to do. During flower season, she keeps me updated on what’s been planted, repotted, and how much rain is in the rain gauge.

I enjoy our Friday morning visits over a cup of coffee, while Morgan chimes in on almost every sentence.  We laugh, shrug, and shake our heads, rarely completing a thought.  We end our visits with a hug, a kiss on the cheek, and a promise to call again soon.

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We celebrate my mom’s 78th birthday this year, and I’m realizing just how important these conversations are, whether they’re about something I need to tell her, or just about a cardinal and a squirrel.  I love you Mom.  I’m blessed to have you here.  Happy Birthday!

 

 

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy

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autism, caregivers, Morgan, Uncategorized

Social Graces and Hidden Disabilities

“Parents don’t make mistakes because they don’t care, but because they care so deeply.” – Berry Brazelton

As a parent of a young woman on the autism spectrum, I’m realizing there’s a fine line between accommodating and crippling Morgan. I am forever tripping over that line. The Judgers only trip me more. The Getters keep me trying.

You see, there are two Morgans.  The one I see at home is confident and assured, able to express her wants and needs most of the time, able to create, and even crack a dry joke.

Then there is the Morgan out in public.  The one that tears at my heart, because she’s so anxious about “Too Many Friends”, uncomfortable places, not enough schedule, too much schedule,… She has two reactions to the stress of public gatherings.  One is to loudly announce her discontent to everyone, and the other is to completely shut down.

A while back, Morgan participated in an exhibition basketball game.  Things were just a little noisy and chaotic.  She squeezed her eyes shut, and lowered her head to disappear.  I watched from a distance as peers passed her by, moving on to others who met them with smiles.  Morgan’s self isolation continues to cost her so many opportunities.  Whenever this happens, everything in me wants to jump in and rescue her (and I have on several occasions), but I realize there’s going to be a time when I’m no longer able to be that link of understanding between her and the world.  In order to make it out there, she will have to somehow find it within herself to reach back to those who reach out to her.  Daily prayers go up for her social graces, and others’ understanding.

Thankfully, we had a successful event recently, which gave me a little renewed hope.  Morgan was asked to pass out programs for a community gathering with Borderless Arts Tennessee.  She was given an active roll, and rose to the occasion.  She also sat along side friends to do a little creative activity.  Later, when she announced she was “Tired and All Done”, friends gave a knowing smile.  Morgan was asked to help present a couple of awards, and continued to hang with a little encouragement.  She even managed a smile for the camera, in the middle of her protests. 😉

I. Just. LOVE. the Getters, those who truly understand, and I’m most thankful for the Knowers, like Dr. Temple Grandin, Emelyne Bingham, and other amazing women on the spectrum for reminding me to continue to challenge Morgan.

In my parenting experience, I’ve had many proud moments, and some very humbling ones. When our children are flying high, we can be tempted to pat ourselves on the back, thinking we’ve got it all together.  In those times of pride, shame on me if I’m ever a Judger of another parent, who’s loving their child the best way they know how.  “But for the grace…”

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy

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autism, caregivers, faith, family, Morgan, Uncategorized

Pinning Down the Practice of Living Unrehearsed

“Hope for the best.  Expect the worst.  Life is a play.  We’re unrehearsed.” – Mel Brooks

While looking through old jewelry to find Morgan some hat pins, I came across this.  It’s my old Girl Scouts pin.

Girl Scout Pin

“Always Be Prepared”.  I took that motto seriously.  To this day, I am forever over planning, over thinking, and running over everything that threatens to get in the way of my plans.  But no matter how I attempt to cover all the bases, life with autism continues to throw me curves.  As much as I’d love to see Morgan’s ducks line up my way, she has a production of her own in mind.  In God’s sovereignty and sense of humor, I believe He has enlisted Morgan’s assistance to keep me on my heels, and my knees. 😉 I am slowly beginning to realize He does His best work when I’m off balance, and unable to be “too much” help.

So how do I do this?  How do I find His balance for me, that red line, of where my responsibility ends, and trusting begins?  Life is a LIVE performance.  We don’t get an encore, so I desperately want to get it right.  As the parent of a forever child, the struggle is REAL.  My older daughter, Allison, texted me this photo yesterday of some wall art she purchased for her living room.  God’s timing, a good reminder of where to begin again.
Be Still and Know

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contrary to my nature, I am making a conscious effort to once again be still.  I will halt my mind’s endless rehearsal of all of life’s possible outcomes.   Instead, I will sit quietly, earnestly turning my focus back to The Director, on Whom my hope relies.

PS – I had to smile when I saw this other tiny treasure.  It’s a skating pin I received for winning a race at Hall’s Skating Rink, more than half a century ago.  Even then, slowing down was not my specialty.  😉 Always learning.

Skating Pin

Until Next Time,

Be Still and Know The Hope!

Tammy

 

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