I’ve never been able to bake a delicious chocolate cake and have it all to myself. How about you? At least that’s my experience. Have you ever met people who seem to win the lottery on a daily basis and it leaves you wondering why your name is never pulled out of the magic hat?
My friend, we’ll call her Gloria, is one of these people, she seems to win wherever she goes, and I wish she’d sprinkle a little of the fairy dust on me. Gloria is also a lovely young lady who would give the shirt off her back to anyone: even if his name were Tiny, he was the size of a gorilla, and he had a tattoo of his grandma on his bicep.
Part of me thinks it’s blessings that are coming back to her for her kindness.
Everyone once in a while, I wish I would open my mailbox at the end of my daisy-lined-country-lane and a random check from a great aunt I never met, would be sitting there. You know, like winning the lottery: or making a delicious chocolate cake and being able to eat the whole luscious creation…yourself!
It’s not that I need people to give me money, I am well provided for by my hard-working husband who spoils me.
But I have the heart of a hippie-trotting-travel-lover and traveling is not free!
A few weeks ago I received an unsuspecting life-changing phone call. All my dreams flashed before my eyes and were waiting in mid-air for me to grab and tuck into my suitcase, so I could run to the nearest airport and travel the globe uninterrupted. This is my dream. It’s a selfish one, but still, it is my dream.
So what’s holding me back?
My husband Vance and I are caregivers to our autistic son, Kyle, who is twenty-seven. Parenting Kyle is like babysitting a gigantic two-year-old. If we want to take a vacation, we need to plan his care ahead of time and sometimes it doesn’t work out. If his staff is short staffed, our holidays can be canceled. No vacation is a guarantee.
It was just an ordinary day when the phone rang:
“Hi Cindy, it’s Lorraine. I was informed Kyle’s name came to the top of the list for twenty-four-hour group home care.”
“But we didn’t put Kyle’s name on a list,” I say in surprise.
“Yes, but since he is in our outreach programme his name came up.”
Lorraine is a sweetheart, and I always enjoy talking to her, she has a big heart for the clients she supports. We talk for a bit, and I ask her if it’s possible to get this care in our home instead: if we made him his own separate apartment in our house? She says she’ll look into it and we book an appointment to come talk to her the next week.
I relay all this information to Vance who is eating lunch at our kitchen table. Have you ever seen Eyore, the donkey, from Winne the Pooh with the storm cloud hovering above his hanging head? This is what Vance looked like when I told him of our conversation. He looked like he had just lost his best friend.
Living the Dream
I started telling him about all the things he and I could do if Kyle had around the clock care, hoping my list would convince him this was a good idea:
We could sleep in.
We could stay out late.
We could have friends and family over since Kyle won’t be running around naked.
We could leave stuff strewn about the house since he wouldn’t live in our area, he couldn’t take our things.
We could go out for dinner any night we want instead of when one of our four other kids are available to care for Kyle in the evenings.
We could go globetrotting!
Vance loves traveling as much as I do and yet no matter what I said his gloomy cloud still hovered over him. He also dreams of being able to eat his whole chocolate birthday cake…to himself with an extra bowl of icing on the side-true story.
“Cindy, we wouldn’t be Kyle’s caregivers anymore, and we would lose that connection with him.”
Most men my husband’s age are itching to drive a convertible along a winding road that wraps around the ocean. He yearns to take care of his son.
Then my bubble burst. My dream vanished into thin air…it was gone as quickly as it came. Someone had snatched my piece of cake from under my nose.
Vance was right, we don’t want to lose our close connection with Kyle. We were the people who loved him. Having interaction every day with someone who loves you, is like chocolate icing to the soul.
The next week we met with Lorraine, and the first thing she said was, “I have a feeling twenty-four-hour care isn’t what you want for Kyle?”
She knows us well.
We do need this in the future when we are too old to meet Kyle’s needs…but we are still young and healthy. We decide to keep caring for him but put in a request for twelve-hour staffing instead of eight.
Community Living Algoma has been our godsend for the past couple years. They know everything about our family since the aides are here while our family interacts. We have grown attached to Kyle’s staff, and they feel like family.
Drop Everything Dream
The travel-bubble came to mind again this morning, a feed popped up on FB. CIBC bank had posted a video of their staff showing up at random people’s doors asking them if they could drop everything and go on a dream vacation, within ten minutes notice.
“I wonder if you’re able to drop everything and fly?” said the CIBC representative.
“Yes! Yes!”, says the couple.
I watch with envy and longing. The world is waiting for me to come explore, I can hear it calling my name:
Cindy come walk the cobblestone streets of Europe.
Come drink an espresso outside a cafe in Italy.
Come float an ocean in an enormous yacht.
Come surf the Hawaiin waves (maybe not…sharks)
Come see the Swiss Alps and eat their delicious chocolate.
I hear Kyle, banging around in his room and I am snapped back to reality.
God whispers to me, “Come love your son.”
My hearts most profound yearning: to make Kyle’s life the best it can be. But sometimes I am selfish and want to live another life and think there is a mountain of green grass waiting for me on the other side.
One day I may not have Kyle here anymore, and I may be traveling the globe wishing I was at home, with his arms wrapped around my neck and him saying with his charming grin:
This is Kyle’s BIG dream since he lives in a small world, where his family, friends(staff) and food are all he cares about.
Are you waiting for your dreams to come true? Take a glimpse around you, they may have been waiting for you all along.
Don’t wait till they vanish before you realize your dreams were right in front of you…while you were waiting for them to arrive in your mailbox.
In the meantime…eat some cake with someone you love and spray a little fairy dust on their day or a few chocolate sprinkles.
In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” Acts 20:35 NIV
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