The Redheads Come To Call: One P.M. yesterday, just as advertised, our visitors rang the doorbell at our daughter’s new apartment. Mother and daughter drove 3 plus hours southwest to welcome our daughter to her new home. They came bearing gifts in colorfully wrapped packages, both eager to support our gal’s new life. Our daughter radiated pride and pleasure as she led the home tour and opened her gift. A quesadilla maker and spatula. Perfecto!
Information Shared Over Sweet Potato Fries: I gave the ladies a drive through the main street of town on the way to lunch at Fifty Coins, where you can get an amazing Ahi Tuna wrap with wasabi, soy and chipotle dips. And of course, the aforementioned sweet potato fries. The mom and I talk the special needs talk, a familiar conversation which I have shared with families for years. The girls gossip a bit and answer our inquiries about what each of them is doing. Then the moms pick through whatever new resources or information we can share with each other and together ponder options to pursue in the areas of funding, residential, social and vocational opportunities. Our young visitor has two more years at their boarding school before she “ages out” in the state of Massachusetts, one day before her twenty-second birthday. But she is a busy and skillful little beaver, working this summer in a retail store and a senior center. She loves shoes and clothes and is learning how to navigate a wheel chair. Though very strong on the vocational end of her future planning, the residential piece is uncertain and much work lies ahead for this family.
Helping Comrades: Can we help each other? You bet. Though from different states, there are many similarities in state agency procedures and some national resources and non-profits that both of us can tap. And as my friend pondered her next step, I gave her my best piece of advice, “Get started now. Don’t wait a second more.” In other words, pull that DDS case manager in to explore with you whatever residential options are out there in the State of Massachusetts and who in your area is doing what with their children. Get her on the residential waiting list. This is an enormously resourceful mom but the only way to build the vision is to ask others what visions already exist. Fill in the blanks because blank is what you see when you first start that “adult independent living” journey. And what you feel is a sick pit of fear in your belly. Ask anyone and everyone to throw some dots, smears or scribbles onto that blank screen. With time an image will form, be tweaked and eventually morph into an acceptable reality. Fingers Crossed!
Boring and Contagious? The library gig doesn’t seem to be working out. Our daughter’s vocational life skills coordinator is fantastic, a true advocate and really responsive to the girls. She has alerted staff that the ladies are underutilized, under-challenged and not stimulated washing the covers of children’s books, in silence, and absent of social contacts (they are not there together). There is also some question of contagion. Both girls have gotten sick since being assigned the task of cleaning toddlers’ smears and sticky nondescript stuff and it didn’t occur to me until now that they should have worn gloves. Apparently the library was a temporary post until a more suitable setting was found. Unbeknownst to me, the staff have been focused on a senior living community in town and this week were finally able to meet with their head of programming. Volunteer job applications have been submitted and our daughter will be interviewed next week. WOW! And I didn’t have to do a thing, except to tell staff, “Don’t bring her back to the library next week, one infection is enough.” (When I volunteered at our elementary school’s library eons ago, I came down with Pink Eye twice. My kids didn’t have it, but mom did.)
Pegasus With Dad: Our daughter has her riding program this morning. Staff drove her there. Mom stayed home but dad called ahead to ask if it were O.K. if he met her at the Pegasus Equestrian Center. “Sure,” our daughter answered. After all, this is her life and we need to be respectful of boundaries. Dad is respectful, eager to see her new riding skills, and packed his car with easel, oils, canvas and camera, ever ready for a painterly moment. I call him “Michel Monet” pronounced with a hard T. That ‘s her dad. And she is so much like him, it’s hysterical. They even eat alike.
©Jill Edelman, M.S.W., L.C.S.W. 2011