Before all this nasty weather, my son and I took a visit to his Grandma and Grandpa’s house. He calls them his Po-pos. No, not the cops. My mom first started calling herself and my dad by that name shortly after my son was born. It has some meaning to my mom in Korean, apparently. (At least that was her story!)
My parents are in their late 70s. With my mom’s health problems, the last thing I want them to do is worry about me or my son. They also have no understanding of autism. These factors led to my decision not to tell them that their grandson has autism. They don’t need the stress or worry.
Before my mom got sick, my dad would make off-hand remarks, from time to time, that I need to be more stern with my son. He told me I needed to quit spoiling him and give him a spanking once in a while. I blew off my dad’s comments more than once before my son received his diagnosis. After the diagnosis, I bit my tongue several more times when he made those remarks.
He doesn’t make them anymore. I think that’s primarily because he is so preoccupied with my mom and her health. My mom has been home from the hospital for over a month now and is slowly adjusting to the differences in her life. She rarely talks. There are a lot of difficulties associated with speech, swallowing, eating and drinking since she came home. The brutality of the acute renal failure and sepsis wrecked havoc with her delicate system. I cab see the advancement of her Parkinson’s symptoms. She has lost over 35 pounds.
Visits with her grandson fill my mom with happiness. They always did. She loves to watch him play, hear his voice, touch his soft skin and receive his hugs and kisses.
For my son, he never objects to visiting his grandparents. He’s content to sit in the living room and amuse himself with a single toy while I visit. He doesn’t like to be hugged and kissed but he lets my mom do it anyway, begrudgingly. He keeps his distance, for the most part, from my dad.
On this last visit, it was Mother’s Day, and a beautiful, warm day. I know how my mom loves a garden and her backyard is in full floral bloom. So, I suggested we wheel her outside to sit at the patio table. It was warm with a cool breeze. Roses everywhere you turned. When she was in the hospital, struggling to stay alive, I repeatedly told her that when she got home, we would make sure to plant a vegetable garden for her. There were days that this kept her going.
The little guy enjoys his time among the flowers at the Po-po’s house.
Ever since I was my son’s age, my mom would plant a beautiful vegetable garden every year. When I was that young, I remember walking through the garden with her picking zucchini, cucumber, tomatoes and rhubarb. I used to pick green tomatoes off the vine and eat them. The tomato plants were so large when I was little that it felt like I was walking in a tomato forest. I was excited to help in the garden as a child and I have my mom to thank for giving me a lifetime love of vegetable gardening.
Out back in their yard, the prior owners of their house had put in a putting green. My dad decided to pull it out and make that the vegetable garden promise a reality. We talked about the vegetables she wanted to grow. We looked at and smelled the sweet fragrance of the orange blossoms on her tree, admired the peach and lemon trees‘ growth, and took in the beauty of the many colored roses around the yard and over the arched trellis.
My son ran through the yard, never with us but nearby. He was befriending the small decorative boulder near the roses. Repeatedly, he would ask, “What’s that?” goading us to say the word boulder or rock to his delight. He then asked, “What is it drinking?” No one asked why he was making such an odd inquiry. It was attributed to age. When he told us all that the boulder was drinking apple juice, it was only me that knew what was up. My parents thought nothing of it.
The sun was getting to be a little much for my mom so my dad started to put up the patio umbrella. At our own house, we have a patio table and chairs but no umbrella because the furniture sits under an upstairs deck. My parents‘ umbrella operated by crank. Guess who came running like a magnet to his grandpa? But, of course! The little guy could not resist the lure of the umbrella crank.
First, he watched my dad. No more than 30 seconds into the cranking, he was in my dad’s face, saying, “Do you want to do it?” My dad did not even notice my son’s misuse of pronouns. He knew what my son meant and helped him use the crank. Then, we sat under the table while my son raised and lowered the umbrella three times. I stopped him finally. My dad thought it was funny. It bonded the little guy with the big guy. It made me and my mom smile.
And no one said the word autism. No one worried. Everyone laughed and loved. It was a good day.