There and Back Again

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We came. We saw. We snagged the right apartment, we hope.

When Patty moves in August to begin her masters degree studies, she has a tiny efficiency apartment to move into. A place to call her own. She chose to pay for a furnished apartment so that she would not have to buy furniture.

I struggled with whether we should make the effort and spend the money to travel 400 miles (one way) to the university to get our feet on the ground to make the all important decision regarding where Patty would live for the next year. I said to the Lord, “I need your help.” The next day, I suddenly felt that we should go. I can’t explain it. That evening I came home from work and a substantial check had arrived in the mail as the result of an overpayment in our escrow fund.

We made a hotel reservation and I took the the days off from work. I prepared my mind to be the only driver for an 800 mile trip. My friend lent us her GPS for the trip.

I had to trust the instructions of the GPS (“Tom”) to get us through multiple cities with many construction zones, merging and forking major highways. I also had to learn to trust Patty, who navigated the entire trip. I couldn’t look at Tom’s screen or her cell phone map. Listening to her directions was the only choice. We were very tired when we arrived, but we made it safely to our destinations. 11 hours there, and 9 hours back.

When we arrived in the college town, we found information¬† regarding housing we couldn’t see on online maps and Google Earth. The University is in mountainous country. The city and campus are perched on steep hills. We eliminated one complex based on its location on a steep hill. There really is no substitute for being there.

As we neared the end of our journey there, Patty became very quiet. I spoke about the way the mountains would be part of her experience. She said she was feeling sad about leaving home.

“You don’t have to go,” I said. “The decision is not set in stone.”

“Don’t try to minimize my feelings,” she answered. “I am allowed to feel sad about leaving home.”

Message heard.

My daughter is about to strike out on her own. On the second night, I could not sleep as I struggled with how she was going to make it on her own. I wanted to keep her safe. To make sure she had enough to eat. To get around on her own. After many sleepless hours, I said to the Lord, “I need your help.” I finally fell asleep.

The next day, she signed the lease for her first apartment. She didn’t need me to be a guarantor. Her award letter detailing her tuition waiver and stipend was enough. She has already shown her ability to provide her own way.

Our trip there and back again was essential, important. And part of the process of letting go and letting her find her wings.

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Road Trip

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In about an hour and 25 minutes, Patty and I are supposed to leave the house and travel 400 miles to visit the town and university where she will be studying for her master’s degree. In history.

She doesn’t have her license yet, so she will not be driving. By the time she moves down in August, we are hoping she will be driving, although she won’t have a car right away.

We are going to look for an apartment that is close to campus and a grocery store and is safe. Is that too much to ask? The apartments are going fast….so I hope we are not too late.

We are planning to stop at Will’s house for breakfast on the way. That is about 100 miles away. 1/4 of the journey.

7:00 a.m. is our planned departure time. It is now 5:57 a.m. I am nearly packed. I have to wake her up. Get Breakfast. Get moving. So why am I sitting here, writing this?

This is the beginning of getting my second child out of the nest (she is the youngest). Today, we’ll see the place she will be living. At least we’ll see the university where she will be studying. And hopefully find the place.

Mary plans to move out next May. We could have an empty nest within the year. :)

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Being Open to Suggestion

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About a month ago I agreed to be interviewed by a young woman who needed to interview someone who has raised special needs kids. She needed the interview to complete one of her classes for her recreational therapy degree. Her mother, who was the teacher consultant for my son from the time he was four years old until he graduated from college, suggested that she contact me.

I agreed to the interview because I think it is so important to encourage young people to become the professionals, which the next generation of autistic families will need.

My message to her was, don’t be afraid to make suggestions to your students and parents. You can be a valuable resource to those you serve, beyond what you do yourself professionally. Suggestions came to us from people like you at just the right time. We didn’t take every suggestion, but some were very valuable to our family.

A school social worker suggested that our son should take up band, and he talked to the sixth grade band teacher before making this suggestion to us.

A recreational therapist at the local rehabilitation hospital suggested that we look in to therapeutic horse back riding.

Our piano teacher suggested that we attend the church we attended through our kids’ teen years because the youth pastor would be a good fit for our kids.

An occupational therapist shared information about summer therapy with Easter Seals because she knew we couldn’t afford private therapy.

These people were instrumental in our children’s transition to independent adulthood.

I sometimes took a while to decide regarding information given to us. But I was open to suggestion, and some of it made a big difference.

What suggestions have been helpful to you?

I Want the Gravy, Too.

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“You are seeing the successful culmination of your life’s work,” said my psychiatrist this morning.

I have been seeing this psychiatrist for treatment and maintenance of my bipolar II disorder for almost 20 years. He has seen me struggle through most of the years that my kids have had the diagnosis of autism. He asked me how my kids were doing.

I told him…

Will is working for the largest computer company in the world. He has been to Seattle twice in the last two months. He bought a house this winter. He struggles occasionally due to autistic features, but he is very successful. I always think of Will first when asked to give the news about my kids. Perhaps because he has spread his wings and taken off.

Mary has been working at her job as a IT help desk at a call center, and she is enjoying it. She is saving her money so she can move into an apartment next year, about this time.

Patty is preparing to move away to grad school. 400 miles away. She will have what amounts to a full ride. We are hoping to go down to visit the college in a few weeks in order to find an apartment.

We have almost met our goal. Our life’s work is almost complete. But I must admit that I want the gravy, too. If I ever have grandchildren, I would like to enjoy them for a while. If our children make their homes far away, I would like to have the strength and means to travel and take vacations to see them. Travel has never been part of my life. I hope Ralph can go with me. These are things that we have given up in order to complete our life’s work. But if they never happen, I think I can be satisfied with fulfilling our calling.

Where I am right now is where God has called me to be. I heard that song on the radio a few days ago. It so speaks to me right now.

http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=02CMMFNU

Kilter Family Update

It’s been a while since I’ve written. I’ve been busy in some ways, and not so busy in others.

Ralph has reached a plateau in his health. He has had many tests since the beginning of the year, and all have come back negative, except for his chemical stress test, which showed that he has cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure. It’s good that most of the tests came back negative on the one hand because positive would have meant something was gravely wrong. On the other hand, we still don’t know why his health condition remains guarded. He doesn’t have much stamina, he has lost significant weight and muscle mass (6’1 – 145 pounds), and he sleeps quite a bit still. I am certain there is some depression at some level…or at least adjustment issues. He doesn’t talk about it much. As our doctor says, he is a minimizer. He always has been.

For the time being, we have decided not to go to Cleveland Clinic or Mayo. Our cardiologist told us that if it were his wife or children, he would take them there. Our PCP talked to a retired hematologist who suggested the same thing. But we have decided not to go that route for the time being for the following reasons:

  • We have other priorities. One of our goals in life is to support our kids in their transition to independent adulthood. Going away to one of these clinics would be difficult in terms of getting Mary to her job.
  • Cost. Even if our insurance would approve of the medical care, there are other costs associated with going to Cleveland and Mayo, such as travel, hotel costs, and food. Ralph is at the end of his short-term disability (six months). When and if he is approved for long-term disability, his income will be cut by 30% or more.
  • Insurance. After six months, Ralph’s short-term disability has ended. We are waiting to hear if long-term disability will be approved. If it is approved, we will be able to buy insurance at the employee rate, which is very good for a very reasonable rate. If his LTD is not approved, we will be stuck between a rock and a hard place. We don’t know the status of our insurance.
  • Is it worthwhile? We are not confident that Mayo¬† or Cleveland will be able to give us any more answers than we already have. It is reasonable to question the usefulness of more medical tests.

I wrote in a previous post that I thought Ralph had been approved for Social Security Disability. I believe I misunderstood the letter we received. He has not been approved for Social Security Disability. He has not been denied, either. So we are waiting to hear from Social Security Disability and from our Long-term disability insurance.

I will write more about the rest at the family in a few days.

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P. S. Our kids bought our fishing licenses for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. They asked us what we would like. We enjoyed getting out of the house and throwing our lines in the water. Next time, maybe we’ll catch enough to fry up.

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