Taking the Scenic Route

After the Memorial, at his Dad’s house

31st October 2008

After the Memorial, at his Dad’s house

I didn’t take any photos of the Memorial Service because it just feels odd to me to take pictures in a church…weird, I know. The service was totally appropriate and very uplifting, and the service was largely a celebration of Jim’s faith and his affect on those around him.

One thing that stood out to me was watching Jennifer’s mom, sitting next to her. She is quite old…I think in her late 90s, and was just widowed this last spring. I can’t imagine having to watch your daughter go through the same thing when the pain of your own loss is still that fresh.

On a rather funny note, we got lost going there. Twice. It was the one location we had been to several times before and yet, we still managed to miss the turnoffs. Zach, who is frustratingly polite driving most of the time, actually got honked at twice pushing his way into traffic trying to get there. We had to laugh. In direct contrast to Zach, his dad’s aggressive driving was legendary. He seemed to enjoy making passengers squirm and was honked at regularly. Frankly, we were amazed he died of natural causes and not a car wreck. We figured the honkers had his dad’s eyes twinkling with his amused smirk in heaven. lol.

After the service, we went out to his Dad’s house, about a half an hour into the Hill Country near a big lake. The area sort of reminded me of the Sand Hills that are South and East of Hutchinson, and my Maternal grandparent’s home place. Well, except that there were gates here, but they weren’t to keep the cattle in. lol.

Zane and Zach took a long walk around the property to really look at what Jim had done. Jim had designed a myriad of intertwining paths and “rivers” of rock. Zane wanted to walk the maze of rocks and so he and Zach spent a good amount of time just enjoying the intricacies of the landscaping. Zane picked a rock out that he really liked and brought it home with him. It sits in a place of honor in his room. Here he is showing it to the camera.

The pool was just beautiful and the center of the action for much of the day. Jim designed every aspect of it.

The tree he was planting. When we were at the viewing one of their neighbors came over and planted it so that nobody would have to come home to it still being undone. What a thoughtful neighbor.

On the side table next to his chair in the bedroom.

Landscaping binds the generations together in Zach’s family. A lot of Zach’s memories of his dad growing up are going with him and doing landscaping. His grandpa also did a lot of gardening, grew an orchard, and was always working with the landscaping with Zach too. This yard was a challenge to him because he had never worked in this kind of environment. I think it is easy to see he was a master, and his yard was his masterpiece.

I overheard somebody say that firepit was the first thing he built when he started landscaping this property. It is at the back of the property and opens out to wild land. It is so peaceful sitting out there.

Most of Jim’s grandkids were there that day, so we gathered them up and tried to get a picture. The first pictures are before Rocco was brought into the picture. Sloan is the only one I see missing. (in one of my previous posts, she is the one in the raspberry stripped Hannah Andersson dress, going down the slide)

From left to right: Zane, Zora, Soren, Tirzah, Noah, Brenna. In front later is Rocco.

posted in Autistic Life, Death, Extended Family, Papo (Z's Dad) & Grammie, San Antonio, Zach | Comments Off

31st October 2008

Evening at the Riverwalk with Family

A much needed night out! Everyone staying at the hotel (Jim’s sisters and their families and us) decided a night at the Riverwalk would be good. All of us are from out of town so we don’t get the opportunity to go down there very often.

The kids were antsy waiting for food, so I ended up taking a walk with Zora while we waited. Along the way she saw two girls playing with lightsabers, and she was really excited to watch, pointing and exclaiming ” ‘tar wowts’ ” (star wars) over and over again. A few minutes later, we came across the vender selling the lightsabers. I didn’t have any money on me so we went back to see if Zach wanted to get them for the kids. Well, it didn’t take long and Zach came back with lightsabers for both of the kids.

After we were done eating, we were still standing around talking near the table and noticed that there was a dance floor with rainbow disco lights swirling around the floor. We decided the kids would love it and went in, and immediately Zane looked euphoric and was dancing all over the place, with Zora enthusiastically joining in. Some of the adults joined in too and we laughed and danced and had so much fun. Then the manager came and kicked us out. lol. Apparently, you can’t even enter the building if you are under 21, so we had to leave. Leave it to the rowdy family to get kicked out of a bar. (totally worth it, by the way)

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31st October 2008

Family Luncheon at Jennifer’s Brother’s Estate

I love going out to their estate. It is so peaceful and comfortable there, and they have always worked to make it a place where people can really relax. It was a great atmosphere to sit and chat and share stories and memories.

I think the playground area is new, at least in the last 5 years or so. The kids just loved it. It also made life a lot easier for parents because it kept the kids in the same general area (particularly Zane, who tends to wander off if he gets bored or overwhelmed).

They had a local restaurant cater, and had all the ribs, brisket, and some poultry and all the sides. There was enough selection that I was able to eat some of it, which was really nice. Later on, the kids all had an ice cream treat too.

All of the kids were nice and played together well. It made me wish we lived closer.

Zora and Brenna really hit it off. (Hayden & Amber’s younger girl, about a year and a half older than Zora) Brenna seemed to love being the older girl and telling Zora how to do stuff. I saw them holding hands for a while too. They both have strong personalities and seemed a good match. Zora also seemed to get along with the boys running around. My rough and tumble little girl.

Zane and Tirza (Hayden & Amber’s oldest, six months younger than Zane) seemed to make a connection too. Zane even pushed Tirza on a swing. (which made me really excited…attempting to join in play like that is a huge deal) Tirza commented to her mom that Zane must not have realized she knew how to pump her legs, but she let him push her anyway…she is such a kind hearted kid. She seemed to “get” Zane more than a lot of people do.

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31st October 2008

The Burial

Today, Zora was going with us and Zane was being dropped off at the church. If you are in San Antonio, the Community Bible Church has a great Special Needs ministry, and they are the ones who watched Zane during the burial. The next day, when we pulled into the parking lot for the Memorial, Zane happily asked from the back seat if he was going “back to the school?”. A sure sign of approval.  I am not a conservative, by any stretch of the imagination, but the church seemed like a great church if that is your style of worship.  We were there a few years ago, and the growth is astonishing.  I heard someplace that they are now the 17th largest church in the nation.

At the hotel, ready to go

Anyway, we dropped Zane off at the church and took Zora with us to the burial.  Kirsten’s (Zach’s step-sister) in-laws volunteered to watch over Zora and Rocco during the service.  The other kids were all either attending, or still in school. 

I have never been to a military burial, so it was a new experience.  I have also never been a person in the “sitting” area before.  I hope it is a long, long time before I “get” to have that experience again. 

They started with three gunshots, one for service, one for honor, and one for something else….I can’t remember what right now.  One thing, without a doubt, even though you are expecting it, it is very startling.  It very effectively jumpstarts the tears.  Then they followed with a beautiful playing of Taps. 

When they folded the flag, I couldn’t help but think of all of the wives/mothers/fathers/husbands that have watched the same thing for their loved one.  Including my natural grandfather.  And when they knelt down in front of Jennifer, and told her the flag was from the president in appreciation of her sacrifice, I was choking back tears, not only for Jim, but knowing my grandmother stood there as a new widow with a preschooler and infant, and was told the same words.  The feeling of it all being greater than this one death was overwhelming.  I will never be able to watch a military burial on TV the same way.  The solomn and magestic ritual of it all was so powerful.

The service was ended with a short message, then a hymn (I can’t recall which one it was off the top of my head, but it was familiar enough for me to get most of the verses without benefit of the lyrics, which I somehow missed when they were handing them out).  The service was concluded with a beautiful doxology, lead by Jennifer’s extended family.  (a very musical family, blessed with beautiful voices)

After the service one of Zach’s cousins told him that they often let family members keep the shells spent during the gun salute, so Zach went over and gathered some for himself and his siblings and gave it to them.

It was hard, but as Zach said, it was harder the night before.  I initially asked him if was harder because he had to talk to people, and he said that it was harder because it was the last time he would ever see his father’s face, and his father’s hands.  It was harder because that is when he said good-bye to him.  I agree.  It was sad, and final, but the night before was harder for me too.  Looking around that day, I think the same was true for a lot of people.

The feeling standing there, after the service, was so odd.  It was a beautiful sunny day and the kids were playing and laughing amongst the gravestones and along the road near the pavilion.  Such a contrast to see them with the coffin off in the background and the adults gathered into little groups, all in dark clothes.  For Zora, it was the first time she was around kids in days, and met some of her cousins.  (she met the other cousins at the estate later, when they got out of school).

There were a few people with cameras there.  Me taking a picture of Lauren taking a picture of Mead taking a picture of Wright (I think)  I know there was at least one other photographer and now I am wondering if she was standing behind me.

And a group picture.  This is Jim’s sisters and their husbands, and all of the cousins (in Zach’s generation) except Jim’s girls. (Kirsten & Amanda)   In the front, from the left:  Cady, Mead, Sandy, and Joyce.  In the back:  Wright, Bob, Zach, Dan, Lauren, and Hayden

We were able to be there precicely an hour, and then they started kicking us out.  We went to pick up Zane, who was not totally convinced he should have to leave, and went out to Jennifer’s brother’s estate for the family meal and social time.

posted in Autistic Life, Death, Extended Family, Papo (Z's Dad) & Grammie | 2 Comments

30th October 2008

Thursday night, after the viewing

We went back to the hotel to change Zane out of his formal clothes. When we walked in, I felt so bad for the sitter. She was used to San Antonio temperatures, and we had cranked the A/C because we were sweating when we were trying to get ready. She was freezing under her stack of blankets. We talked with her a while, and she said she would come to the memorial service to watch the kids again.

After she left, we tried to connect with family to see where people were eating, but couldn’t get in touch with anybody. We headed out and saw a “Macaroni Grill” just a few doors down from the hotel and remembered that we used to love eating there in Wichita (before they closed) so it seemed like a good place to stop. We didn’t have any toys with us, but with butcher paper and crayons, we could entertain the kids pretty easily.

It was good to sit peacefully after the whirlwind we had been through. Zach wanted to sit in between the kids and draw for/with them. It was so sweet. The server was great, and by the end of the meal, we were all happy and full.

With the several servers we had met at the viewing, we couldn’t help but wonder if there were servers here who knew him. It was along the route between home and work and it was Italian Food. I’d bet that he had at least been there. lol.

posted in San Antonio, The Kids, Zach | Comments Off

30th October 2008

The Viewing

We barely had time to shower before Zach had to leave for the viewing and the babysitter came for the kids. Kirsten had a friend and babysitter that was finishing up a Special Ed degree and had a special interest in autism, and she was happy to help out. She was great. She couldn’t get there until after the family viewing was to begin, so Zach went ahead with one of his siblings, and I stayed behind getting Zane and myself ready and waited for her. The plan was to leave Zora with her, while I took Zane for long enough to see the body, and maybe a little longer if he wanted to, then bring him back to the hotel to play with Zora and the sitter, and I would return to the viewing to be with Zach.

I was still finishing up when she came, and helped get Zane dressed as I gave directions. I realized when I was giving directions that I never left the kids with anybody besides my mom, but I was too worn out and stressed to really let that thought settle much.

We went to the viewing. It was the first time I had seen a lot of the family. Zane did pretty well, under the circumstances. He was a little sensory seeking…leaning, pulling out to swing when we held his hand, but overall, did really well.

We slowly made our way to the front, and eventually, I had Zach take him up to see Papo, with me holding his other hand. We showed him Papo, and that he wasn’t breathing, and that he wasn’t moving, and that he felt cold and reitterated that it was because his body was broken, but his inside alive part was with Jesus in heaven and was happy. We stayed as long as he wanted to stay and just held him. When he started getting antsy, we asked if he wanted to go, and he did.

As we walked away from the casket, he started tearing up. We sat down in a pew with him and asked him “What is wrong?” (we weren’t sure if it was too high of level question, so we waited a bit for him to answer before rephrasing) He finally said “I sad” We asked “What makes you sad?” (“what” is easier for him than “why”). He mumbled “Grampapa-Papo”. We asked “Why does Papo make you sad?” He said “Papo is Dead”. He got it. What a bittersweet momment. It was important for him to understand, and I was relieved that he got it, but so overwhelmingly sad at the same time. We hugged him, and then asked if he wanted to go back to the hotel to play nintendo and the babysitter and Zora, or if he wanted to stay here with us. He wanted to stay, much to our amazement. Minutes later, he fell asleep. Almost passed out he fell asleep so hard. He was all twisted up like a pretzel and when I tried to untangle him, he twisted back up again, so we just left him on the bench to sleep and stayed within visual range of him the rest of the evening. He woke up, almost crying, three times, I stepped back over to him, hugged him and reassured him, and he passed back out again. He stayed that way until we got him up to leave.

As anybody who has ever met both Zach and his Dad knows, Zach looks astonishingly like his dad. We even heard Jennifer (the widow), comment, in reference to Jim’s body, that “Zach looks more like Jim than Jim does” and it was true. I don’t know what the deal was, but you really had to look to see Jim because the make-up or something was a bit off. You could see him, and you could kind of see his father (Zach’s grandpa) in him, but it really didn’t look like him as much as one would expect.

One result of the resemblance is that Zach had people coming up to him who didn’t know him, but instantly knew he was Jim’s son. A few of them didn’t realize he wasn’t the “doctor” (Zach’s younger brother, from the second marriage…we had to keep pointing out Hayden to them), and seemed a bit surprised that he had another, older son, but everybody from Jim’s office and those he had known a long time all knew who Zach was. (it seemed to be the church people who were more surprised). I do have to say, you know that you eat out a lot when you get waitresses and waiters come up to you saying what restaurant they had worked at when explaining how they knew Jim. That was sort of funny.

His workmates were amazing. They stood and talked to us for a long, long time, and pulled other workmates over to introduce each other to Zach. All of them knew who he was instantly, and quickly remembered even my name “the other Jennifer Z***” (Jim’s wife and I have the same name…which got sort of weird at times during the week because I kept hearing “my” name called all the time). It became very apparent that he talked about us at work a lot, and very little at the church. He spent a lot of time at work, so that felt really good. Heck, I even got baby gifts from his workmates, even though I had never met them at that time. They had many stories and fond memories they shared (including that they finally bought him his own clippers so he would quit stealing the cake knives from the drawers to go out and landscape the grounds around the building). It was clear that they were devastated by his passing. Truly. I think they knew him better than we did, and hearing about him through them was so comforting. He clearly had a family with his colleagues. They also put a wreath on the door and took pictures of his office, and the building (his dad was a partner, so his name was on the building) to give to us (and the other siblings). It meant a lot.

There was a LOT of family there, including Jennifer’s family whom we hadn’t seen in a long time (since Christmas 2002 for some, and the sibling’s weddings for the others). Sandy had brought a big batch of pictures of Jim from when they were kids, and Zach got to really look at them for a while. That was particularly neat for him.

Another thing that happened with some frequency, was people who came up to him, assuming he was Jim’s son, and then telling Zach how he had changed their lives. Including a woman he helped to leave an abusive marriage and start her life over, and a multitude of other people who’s lives he had changed for the better. He had counseled them and was a force of good in their lives. That was a side of his Dad we never really knew about and were particularly grateful to know about. Zach is the same way, and has always been very generous to those in need (often giving to the point of sacrifice to ourselves and our family), so to see that trait in his Dad really made me smile.

It is so weird to be at a funeral like that, where you are so happy to see some of the people whom you have connected with in the past but haven’t seen in ages, but to have to do it under such awful circumstances. It had me grinning and laughing in joy one minute, and choking back tears the next.

When the viewing was winding down, Zach talked to the mortuary director to thank him for all he had done. He told Zach that his Dad must have been something really special because he had never, in all of his years of doing this, seen so many people come to just a viewing. (with no memorial service). And it was really big, especially considering it wasn’t in a community like I grew up in. (in small towns, viewings and funerals are naturally much, much larger because everybody knows everybody and is affected by the death of somebody in the community)

The viewing, over all, was very healing. We learned so much about his dad and were so grateful for so many sharing their stories.

Near the end of the viewing, the line finally letting up, Jim’s sisters comforting Jen.

Although Zane had changed positions after one of his awakening, this is the view of him at the end of the viewing. We picked him up and went to talk to Jennifer for a bit, then went back to the hotel. I couldn’t believe he slept the several hours we were there. This really wiped him out.

posted in Autistic Life, Death, San Antonio, Stress | Comments Off

30th October 2008

Thursday Morning and Early Afternoon, before the viewing

Thursday morning was the first time we started seeing family. We met up with Aunt Joyce and Dan down at breakfast. We talked for a while, and when we realized they planned on making two trips to the airport to pick everybody up, we told them we would come along instead. With all of our luggage out of the vehicle, we had the back seating area free for either their luggage, or more people.

They made a test airport run while we went back up to the room. Pretty soon we got a call from Hayden (Zach’s brother) to see if Zach wanted to meet with the preacher with the rest of the siblings, so he went with him to do that while I tried to settle the kids in. Zane was clearly agitated, but got a little better when I pulled out all of the blankets (yeah for overpacking) I had brought with us and covered the loveseat and made a little nest for him.

Zora was loving the tv at her level.

Although we had been talking about what was going on to a degree, I still had to talk to Zane, more specifically, about what exactly was going on and what death was. I had to practice saying “dead” over and over again so I could say it without bursting into tears. He had a mini-meltdown and closed himself in the bathroom, trying to block the door, and I knew it was past time to have that talk.

The Talk
I sat with him on the floor of the hotel bathroom, rocking him, and explaining in the simplest, most literal terms possible that Grandpa Papo died.

His body was broken and the doctors couldn’t fix him. When our bodies get a little broken, we go to a dr to fix us. (then went through different people to ask “Is mommy broken, is Zane broken…ect, to make sure he understood the concept of broken body and not broken body)

In video games, when you die, it is a pretend die. You can start again and you are alive. In real life, when you die, you stay dead. You can’t start again. You can’t talk to the person, or hug them, and they can’t breathe or see or hear any more. They look a little bit like they are asleep, but they are not asleep. When you go to sleep, you wake up. When you die, you do not wake up. You can tell the person is dead because they don’t breath or open their eyes any more. (again, asked questions to see if he was comprehending)

Inside of all of us there is an invisible part that makes us alive, called a spirit or soul. When the body breaks too much for docters to fix, the spirit goes to heaven to live with Jesus. His alive part, his spirit, is happy because he is with Jesus. Mommy and Daddy are sad because we won’t see his spirit for a long time and we will miss him being on earth. We miss being able to talk to him and hug him. (again…questions to confirm comprehension)

We will be going to see his body. His body will be in a special box called a coffin. He will look a little like he is alseep, but he will mostly look different (as it turned out, there was no question he wasn’t just asleep, and he looked quite a bit different). He won’t be breathing and he won’t open his eyes because his alive part is not in his body any more. His alive part is with Jesus.

There will be other people there to see Papo’s body. A lot of them might be crying, or sad, and that is OK. It is good to cry when we are sad. We all miss Papo being alive, but we know his inside part, his spirit part, is happy and living with Jesus. If you are sad, it is good to cry. If you are scared, it is good to tell us. Mommy and Daddy will be with you and keep you safe and give you hugs if you want them. If you are not sad, that is fine. It is ok to not be sad.

I asked him a bunch of question afterwards to make sure he got the concept (as much as he could…nobody *really* gets death). I also knew that the only way he was going to understand what dead meant, for sure, was to take him to the viewing. Every part of my soul wanted to spare him that, but I knew that I had to.

Right after Zach returned from his meeting with the siblings, we left to pick everybody up at the airport. They were coming from three different places in the country, but all managed, somehow, to end up on the same plane the last leg. Amazing. We exchanged a few quick hugs, got people and luggage arranged in the vehicles, and headed back to the hotel.

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30th October 2008

Hearing the News & Getting There

It was Monday night, 8:30pm or so.  It was the “witching hour” where we are trying to round everybody up for bed, just a bit on the late side that night and the kids were that overtired crazy they get when they need to go to bed.  I picked up the phone, and a business-like voice asked for Zach.  I assumed it was his work because they were starting the move from the old facility to the brand new (in fact, not totally finished…some areas are still “hard hat only” areas) and Zach is the go-to guy for computer stuff, especially oddball problems.  Zach quickly went downstairs, away from the melee, to have his conversation, but that just “confirmed” my thought that it was work.  I will never forget the look on his face as he walked the last few steps up the stairs back into the living room a few minutes later.  I sit here with tears rolling down my face remembering it.  He stuttered out that it was Hayden and Dad was dead, and was choking back tears.  That is when the world started spinning. 

After holding each other for a while, I told him to call his mom and let her know.  (his Dad and his wife celebrated 30 years, so the divorce happened shortly before their marriage).  For the next few days, we were almost always on at least one phone, but often two phones and the other one would start ringing.  We have prepaid cell phones that had barely been used up until this week, but we had to keep adding money to keep them going over and over again because they were seeing such heavy use.  

Zach didn’t really start crying hard until he had to tell his mom.  I was on the phone with Zach’s best friend (very close friend of mine after all of these years too) and was telling him what was going on.   I wasn’t going to have him come over that late, until I heard Zach start sobbing, big heaving sobs on the phone with his mom, and Robert said he would be right over.  It was so good to have him here.  For a while we considered having him come along with us, but realized that wasn’t the best idea for us or him.  It was nice of him to offer to come with us though.

A few more phone calls with Amber and Kirsten and we discovered that nobody there had numbers for Zach’s Aunts, Jim’s sisters.  They were considering sending messages via facebook out of desperation, but I told them to give me a bit and see if I could find them.  I knew we had addresses, but when I looked in my Palm Pilot, there wasn’t a phone number there for Sandy.  I started googling and came up with a number in the same town, with her dh’s name and called.  Wrong person.  (that was fun).  Then I googled Joyce and  went to compare addresses, discovered I did have Joyce’s number and called her.  That was one of the hardest phone calls I have ever had to make.  She said she would call Sandy.  After a while, I posted on my blog.  Much to my horror, that is how some of the cousins found out.  (it was late and, thinking they had gone to sleep, Sandy was going to tell them in the morning)  I think it was meant to be though because the chance of them seeing it when they did is just amazing.

One or the other of us was on the phone almost the whole time until past midnight.  I tried to rent a van, but the first one that was available was Thursday evening.  We called airlines and quickly realized that wasn’t a possibility for us.  (besides the fact that there have been multiple stories of autistic kids being kicked off planes and I knew Zane was not going to handle a plane ride well under this kind of stress) and I knew I could not handle it if that happened.  It would break me. At about 1am, we realized the kids were still up and put them to bed.

Our first big decision was whether or not to take the kids with us.  At first, we thought about leaving them here.  My parents would watch them.  Since this family doesn’t see each other often, and Hayden and Amber were bringing their kids (and the other siblings live in San Antonio area) we decided to bring the kids because it might be a while before we meet up with everybody again.  A few people in the family had met Zane, but nobody had met Zora.  If anything good was going to come out of this, at least they could meet our kids.

My parents immediately said that they would loan us the money we needed to rent a van, and mom said she would come up the next day to help me shop.  I had an outfit, and Zach had work clothes and a sportscoat, but when I pulled the summer clothes back out, all of Zora’s clothes were bright and cheerful, and the only remotely sedate clothing was meant for cold Kansas winters, not warm San Antonio.  (it was still in the 80s there).  Zane had some stuff, but needed shoes that weren’t bright green crocs.  Both had outgrown their summer church shoes. We ended up getting Zane a sportscoat, which seemed appropriate because almost all the pictures Zach has of him and his dad has Zach in a sportscoat just like his Dads.  We found some stuff on clearance for Zora (summery, but more sedate).

I also needed new make-up. I realized that most of my make-up was left over from my wedding. I would buy new mascara and eye liner when I needed to wear make-up, but I know the last time I tried to use the eye shadow the little sponge brushes literally disintegrated in the make up when I tried to put it on. It was time.

Tuesday, I spent the morning trying, again, to find a car to rent in Wichita sooner.  I was hoping for a van, but there was nothing.  Mom came up and we took Zora and went shopping, and Zach stayed home with Zane, next to the phone, talking to family as plans firmed up and trying to get a car sooner because the viewing was moved to Thursday instead of Friday. 

Eventually, Zach got a Hertz agent to understand what was going on and they started working on their end to get a car into Wichita ASAP.  We were willing to drive to surrounding towns, but Wichita was the main hub in this area for cars and nothing else was available either.  We think they called down to KC and brought a van from there (it had MO plates) and they said they would try and get it to us by noon on Wednesday.  It was clear they were pulling strings and really going the extra mile because every time they located a possible car, they would call to see if it was ok…the first was a 2 seater, but strapping the kids to the roof seemed like a bad idea.

It was weird to go shopping in a rush like that, but we always feel so…I don’t know…inadequate, around that family.  We always feel like the poor relatives and that feels really yucky.  I know that we aren’t as dirt poor as we once were, and it shouldn’t have mattered to me (and I am sure that it didn’t matter to them), but I already have to walk into that crowd as the fat one (I hate how I look…HATE.IT.  My hair is ugly, my body is ugly, and I feel so freakin’ frumpy.), and that couldn’t be changed in an afternoon, but at least my kids could look nice. 

I shouldn’t have felt that way.  It was a fear that I realized was totally unfounded when I got there.  Everybody was warm and welcoming and I knew instantly that nobody there cared one iota what we were wearing, they just cared that we were there.  It’s weird what fears and insecurities come up when facing stuff like this though.  

Between the time we found out on Monday evening until Thursday night after the viewing, I had a total of *maybe* 6 hours of sleep.  I found I just couldn’t sleep.  I couldn’t even sleep in the van on the way there either.  On Tuesday night I sent Zach to bed so he would be awake to drive and I stayed up packing. 

Packing was very erratic.  I couldn’t make decisions and ended up packing pretty much every weather appropriate outfit we own, all of our toiletries (including bandaids and some first aid stuff that actually came in handy) and a very strange selection of toys for the kids.  I packed snacks for the kids and even had stuff like spoons for yogurt and knives for peanut butter.  I packed and packed and packed.  You would think we were moving.  lol.  Luckily, we don’t actually own very many clothes, so it fit easily into the van.  We went to Germany for two weeks with one carry-on rolling suitcase each, the computers in Zach’s briefcase, and my purse.  That was it.  We had enough room in them to buy several bags of stuff there and have it fit in our luggage.  We left for a 4 day trip to San Antonio with enough stuff to live there for a year. 

The drive itself was long and hard, but the van was nice.  We left Wichita at about 2pm, discussing how we were going to get around in San Antonio (we printed off 1 google map and forgot to print anything else) and, despite the fact we have lived in Wichita the majority of our adult life, turned the wrong way on the interstate.  About 25 miles out, we saw a sign giving mileage to Kansas City and realized our mistake and turned around.  How on earth we managed to do that, we have no idea.  I joked with mom that maybe angels turned us around to keep us out of an accident.  

A few hours later, as we were getting ready to enter Oklahoma City, they were talking about a major pile up that had occurred on I-35.  I started watching for the location and realized, when I saw it, it was about an hour from where we were when it happened…had we not taken the hour detour, we might have been in the middle of it.  Maybe it really was angels.

The kids actually did reasonably well on the drive.  Zane played his DS and Zora, somehow, managed to entertain herself with the oddball contents of her “sparkle purse” (she puts helicopters, cars, dollhouse dolls and other odds and ends in there) and singing at the top of her lungs.  We stopped at fast food places with those play structures (even a stand alone chick-fil-a…I had never seen one of those outside a mall, so that was odd) and let the kids stretch their legs while we ate, and then they ate when we got back in the van.  We also discovered a magical concoction of extra caffinated coffee for Zach.

We rolled into San Antonio at around 3:30 or so, and it took several misturns to figure out how to get to the hotel.  We could see it, but we couldn’t figure out how to get to it for a while.  We unloaded everything and set the room up for the kids to be more comfortable because everybody was too wound up to just go to sleep.

We slept a few hours, then dragged ourselves out of bed for breakfast downstairs, and met up with Joyce and Dan at breakfast.

posted in Autistic Life, Death, Extended Family, Friends, Papo (Z's Dad) & Grammie, San Antonio, The Kids, Zach | Comments Off

30th October 2008

From before we got the news…

This is a post I had started, but hadn’t published when we got word. Because I am too OCD to just post it afterwards, I will post it now. lol.


The original title: A Grandma and Grandpa kind of evening.

Once again, my folks come over to check out the car and see what is needed to fix it, and spend the evening with us. This time I remembered to grab the camera and get a few shots of them with the kids.

Playing downstairs in the “school” room (also known as the “room of things that must be supervised to play with” for those million piece toys and scissors and messy things.)




Way to drive your brother crazy:  Interpret the spinner results as the picture of the character on the corners of the spinner card instead of the number it points to. (and picking up that character and moving it a random number instead of sticking to your character)


I gotta give mom credit here.  She hates puzzles.  A lot.  And Zora won’t pick out a puzzle she can actually do, she picks out Zane’s puzzles (This one is “Pintzets Peetz”, aka “Princess Peach” from Mario series).  This one is particularly annoying to put together, so after watching mom try to patiently get Zora to put it together herself, I put down the camera to help. lol


After I put down the camera, Zane picked it up and ran around taking pictures.  Most of them are blurry, so I will show smaller versions.






Before I leave the downstairs, I just wanted to show a picture of the chalkboard.  I really liked the quick cartoons Zach made.


Then, as he often does, he asked “four players”, his way of asking if we can play video games up in his room.  When Grandma & Grandpa are here, they limit it to Mario Cart (or at least a driving game) and we insist that Zora is allowed to join in, something that Zane isn’t thrilled with, but worth the sacrifice if he gets to play Nintendo with Grandma & Grandpa.  (Usually Zora is not allowed in his room).


posted in Autistic Life, The 2 Opas (J's Parents), The Kids, Video Games | 1 Comment

29th October 2008

We’re back. Would anybody mind if I hid for a while?

We are home, safe and sound. My brain doesn’t feel totally back yet. The kids and I all have coughs and I know I feel rather rotten. I think the stress of everything did a number on us. Zach thought he would go back to work on Monday, but we got in way too late. Tuesday rolled around and he still felt overwhelmingly tired, so he stayed home that day and mostly slept. He is back today. He sounds sort of wiped out, but plans on sticking it out today.

I am not having a good day. Went to speech this morning. Couldn’t find one of Zane’s shoes, so we had to get him in shoes he isn’t in love with, which didn’t go as badly as it could have, but wasn’t without some challenges. I realized on the way to ST that the hood of the car was not latched down, so I had to drive really slowly (which thrilled the people stuck behind me) There wasn’t a good place to pull over, we were already late, and it was only a little over a mile away.

He did ok during speech, but right after speech, when I was talking to the therapist, he pulled the fire alarm. I was mortified. Zane started freaking out and then tried to pull the fire alarm again to try and get it to shut off. I had to tell the (student) therapist to go tell the front desk what had happened so they could call 911 and tell them not to come. (I once worked in a hotel that had a new, badly installed, fire alarm and I am very familiar with how mad fire and police people get when they waste time responding to false alarms. Especially false alarms for big buildings that would require them to call in other engine companies. ) We left shortly afterwards and I didn’t hear any sirens, so hopefully they were stopped in time. I think they still have to come out to investigate, but I really hope they didn’t roll all of their engines.

Zora hid and wouldn’t come out until I started yelling, but I needed to get her out to get to Zane who was freaking out and starting to really lose it in the hallway. I got them both outside, strapped them in to the car, and talked to Zane about what happened. He was still upset and crying. I started crying. This week just sucks.

posted in Autistic Life, ST, The Kids | 4 Comments

  • Zane's age

  • Zane is 22 years, 5 months, and 2 days old
  • Zora's age

  • Zora is 18 years, 5 months, and 6 days old
  • Random Quote

  • Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. — Martin Luther King, Jr

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