on autism and painting the garage with mustard

Written by Lori

I am a fellow traveler on this journey toward Home. A follower of Jesus, hoping to shed a bit of His light with my words. I share a home with my best friend and fellow traveling companion, also Heaven bound, and two spoiled but wonderful cats. My passions are photography, writing, coffee, chocolate, and studying the Word, not necessarily in that order. I believe one of the most important ways to have a successful life is to always find humor in any situation. Former California girl, I now reside in Apache Junction, Arizona, but my heart longs for the Sierra Nevada, and the Pacific Ocean.

September 21, 2012

Her voice drifts across the many miles via the telephone and I don’t have to wonder what kind of day she has had. “It’s one of those days,” she says, “where she does whatever she can think to do.” She sighs wearily, then laughs. “You won’t believe the very last thing she did.”

“She got the almost new jar of mustard out of the refrigerator,” she continues, “and painted the garage door with it. Do you have any idea how hard it is to get mustard off of anything?” She went on to say, “Your Dad is now out there right now, trying to clean it off.”

Things like lotions and dishwashing soaps have to be kept up high as well. To Lauryn, if a little is good, a lot is better. Suffice it to say, her dolls will never have to worry about dry skin.

Nine years ago my Mom and Dad traded in a life of leisure for a life filled with the Sprout’s channel, Barney and the Wiggles. They couldn’t stand the thought of their only Grandchild going to daycare, so at ages 74 and 75, they became caregivers again.

As time went on, things that should have come easily for Lauryn, didn’t. “Mildly autistic” was the conclusion that came at the end of a million tests.

All those little things that parents take for granted, like eating, sleeping, potty training, talking? They became major accomplishments. You want to shout each one from the rooftops, hold them up to the light for the miracles they are. The ones that understand celebrate along with you.

And you suffer a silent grief when others tell you how their 3 year old eats anything you put in front of him, when your child at seven, just won’t eat. There were so many things to learn along the way.

They had to steer clear of bearded men for a long time, including Santa Claus. And they had to learn early on they couldn’t go a different way home. Autistic kids don’t like change. And they like to know the rules, cast of characters, and place well in advance. A surprise trip will elicit, “No me, no me! In other words, “I am not going, no way, no how.”

And you have to learn the difference between the things they are doing because they simply can’t help themselves, and when they just want their own way, like any other kid pushing the limits.

As the Auntie, I have watched from the sidelines as Lauryn sailed over so many challenges. And in my drawers are all the cards I have written her ever since she was born. The ones I will someday read to her, when she can understand. Like how I prayed for the day she would invite me all the way into her circle. The first time she ran to me at the airport, jumped into my arms at the pool, talked to me on the phone. All those things I treasured, an Oscar wouldn’t have meant as much.

People ask my Mom and Dad how they do what they do and they say, “It’s Jesus, only with Jesus.” And I’ve been witness to this, how the sun has barely risen over their little house but my Mom is up already. And she sighs, and prays, thanks God for her health, and asks Him for strength for just this one day because at 83 every day is a day of grace. And he waits on the porch for “his girl.” At 84, she is his life’s work until such time as God calls him home.

And in both of their hearts is the prayer that when they are gone, she will remember them and how they loved her with their lives.

Lauryn has taught us that every accomplishment is really a miracle, and that your heart can always hold more love than you think.

And that when life gets crazy, maybe painting the garage with mustard is all you can do.

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” (Albert Einstein)

15 Comments

  1. Shelly Miller

    Lori, this is beautifully told. I am in awe of those, like your parents, who understand at the deepest part of their soul what it means to live unselfishly and with gratefulness for what I take for granted every day. They inspire me this morning. Thank you for sharing a bit of them through your lens.

    Reply
  2. 1lori_1

    Oh thank you Shelly…..they inspire me each and every day, I hope to share more. Lauryn is such a blessing in our lives. She teaches us new things about ourselves more every day 🙂

    Reply
  3. Connie

    This was precious and inspiring on many levels.

    Reply
    • 1lori_1

      Thank you so much Connie……a life of sacrifice. A perfect example of it in my own family. Thank you so much for taking the time to read a bit of my story and Lauryn’s story.

      Reply
  4. Nancy Franson

    Thank you for writing this, for painting this picture with your words and honoring the lives of everyone involved. It is so hard, when a child has any kind of learning disability, to exercise patience and understanding in knowing the difference between what they can’t and won’t do. Each day is a victory; each day is a gift.

    Your parents. Wow.

    Reply
    • 1lori_1

      Oh thank you Nancy…..they do inspire me! I try to follow them around and I find myself wanting to sit down! And they treasure every moment with her even though they are exhausted by the end of the day.

      Reply
  5. Laura Boggess

    Lori, thank you for sharing this story of the difficult in the midst of the beautiful. What a beautiful thing it is when family’s let these parts of the journey unite them and become a more complete picture of the Body. As Nancy says…Each day.

    Reply
    • 1lori_1

      Thank you Laura for such a gracious comment. Our lives really do all work together to form a whole beautiful picture of what Jesus can do in each of our lives. (If we let Him) that is hard part sometimes! Lori

      Reply
  6. pastordt

    What an amazing picture of grace and love. Thank you so much for sharing this story in this space. Only by the power of the Spirit within them could people in their 80s do this kind of work so well. And it is work, though beautiful, rewarding, gratifying. I cannot imagine how they do it.

    Reply
    • 1lori_1

      Yes, that is what everyone says, “How do you do what you do??” We know the answer of course, and even with that, it is a tremendous sacrifice (I haven’t even shared half of it) Bless you for commenting…I so appreciate it and I will make sure Mom and Dad see them all…Lori

      Reply
  7. Keviana Elliot

    This was precious. Two of my little sisters are Special Needs, so I felt this so very deep. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing your heart and letting me see what you do. <3

    Reply
  8. Keviana Elliot

    This was precious. Two of my little sisters are Special Needs, so I felt this so very deep. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing your heart and letting me see what you do. <3

    Reply
    • 1lori_1

      Oh Keviana, two sisters with special needs? Wow….you could share some stories, many stories I am sure. Thank you dear for commenting and for re-sharing this on FB. I enjoyed your story so. Felt the pain of both of you.

      Reply
  9. Sandra Heska King

    In their 80s now. What amazing, amazing love!

    My son once finger-painted the fireplace brick with Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup. And he’s OCD!

    Reply
    • 1lori_1

      Oh wow Sandra, I bet that took some cleaning too, chocolate and mustard, a close race I’d say. I bet it looked a sight dripping down the bricks! A career in Art maybe??

      Reply

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on autism and painting the garage with mustard

by Lori time to read: 4 min
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