Dealing with "unexpecteds"
Something that my oldest son has difficulty with are "unexpecteds."
We all handle these things differently, but for those with Autism, it can be a huge problem.
For J, these upend his expectations and schedules. They can throw him into a tailspin that can be tough to get out of.
They are usually minor inconveniences, like his computer game froze, or I bought the wrong kind of applesauce (because they were out of his usual).
They are "bumps" in the road.
We talk a lot about bumps, hills, and mountains--and use this terminology to define the situation and how to react to it.
J tends to take "mountains" in stride. It's the bumps that throw him off.
Like the old saying says, "Making mountains out of mole hills." That describes it perfectly.
So, we had an unexpected today...and it could be considered a mountain.
My father-in-law died last night.
He was just shy of 85, and had an awesome life. We knew he was having some health issues...his heart just wasn't quite as strong as it used to be, and he had been having some balance and breathing problems.
My husband was planning on taking the boys down to see him when school ends in a few weeks. We had literally talked about getting tickets this weekend.
He had a heart attack after dinner, and a few hours later, he was gone.
Now, we are in planning mode.
My husband is on his way to Florida to begin making arrangements. We may or may not be joining him once those plans are made.
In the meantime, I'm trying to keep "it" together. I am dealing with the "unexpected".
I said to my husband on our walk last week, that he was the last dad I got. I've already buried two--my father and my step-dad.
I wasn't ready to bury a third.
On top of that, my father-in-law had remarried just 2 weeks ago.
He seemed happy. He knew his family was taken care of.
Maybe that was why he knew it was ok to go.
I am in wait and see mode...do I need to make flight arrangements for me and the boys?
Who do I need to call at work, school, what appointments need to be cancelled?
Do I have clothes to wear to a memorial service?
Do the boys???
My brain is in overdrive...just trying to look at all the other things that need to be done rather than think about another loss in the family. Just rambling from thought to thought.
How do we tell the boys?
J will take it in stride...I don't think he fully understands. Grandpa lived in Florida and we saw him whenever we could. He is at the age (teenager) where "it's part of life". But the autism gets in the way of the emotions.
B may not take it as easily. He said to me last night before we knew anything other than he had a heart attack that, "I just want him to know I love him."
I'm not crying--you're crying.
But that's my B. He is always more worried about others than himself.
Then he said that he wanted to, and I quote, "Honor him tomorrow at the Memorial Day parade."
Oh my God...this kid.
"Great idea, buddy."
Today is Memorial Day, and B will be marching with his Scout troop in our Memorial Day parade in a few hours.
Maybe he will take it better than I think. I know he will probably take it better than I am. It's hard trying to be strong, especially for the boys when they say things like that.
My father-in-law was one of the good ones.
He would give you the shirt off his back. But he also didn't take any shit.
He was quiet, but boy did he have a sense of humor. He didn't say much, but when he did, you listened...and then he'd land a zinger.
I remember we would sit out on his lanai in Florida, have Manhattans, and talk and laugh.
So on this Memorial Day, when I am already thinking and remembering those who gave their lives in the service of this country, I am thinking and remembering him too.
He served this country at a time when we were at peace, in the late 1950s between the Korea and Vietnam conflicts.
Now, he gets to be with his first wife, and all the family that has gone before him.
I'm going to miss him. I may have to make myself a Manhattan tonight.
**I wrote this Memorial Day morning...and even though a few days have past, I still feel the same, and will for sometime. Unexpecteds sometimes suck.
Plans have been made and even though we won't be traveling , we will gather with other family and celebrate my father-in-law's life on Sunday.