Kilter Family Update – The Next Stage


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“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” John Shedd.

My blog posts have slowed down this year. This is due in part to the chaos in my life due to Ralph’s health issues. I just haven’t had the time or energy to devote to writing.

It may also be due to the fact that our kids are leaving the nest and moving on with their lives. I am in the process of letting go, and I feel a need to allow them more privacy.

I’ve received some more reminders lately that the ropes are being cast off and their ships are sailing out of the harbor.

I struggle with the idea of them dating, making decisions with the tag – “just letting you know, Mom….” As if I have no say in the matter! :)

They were all home for Christmas and it was wonderful. We enjoyed our turkey dinner. We watched It’s A Wonderful Life. On Christmas morning we turned on the Yule Log movie on Netflix.

Mary’s gift to us was rebuilding my old computer so that I could do my writing and Ralph could play games. Will gave us a new monitor to go with it. Patty gave us a gift card to Olive Garden. They know how to give good gifts…

We talked about going to see the Star Wars movie at the movie theater over New Year’s weekend while visiting Will at his house. Will let me know later in the day that he was planning to see us in February around his birthday. He had plans for another date on New Year’s with a girl he has been chatting with on-line for a while.

While home from University, Patty told me that she was planning to apply for a job at a national historical site, and that if she gets the job, she would not be staying with us this summer. Just letting us know, not asking our opinion, she said.

Mary is planning to live with us for a few more years and save up to buy a condo or a small house. Ralph is recommending a house with paid maintenance. My preference is that she buy a condo. But it is up to her, and she has to make up her own mind. She has been working full time for almost a year.

Ralph is continuing to recover his health, but has had some set backs. He is doing the emotional work of adjusting to disability and retirement. Everything is different for him. He is struggling with loneliness and finding a sense of purpose. I make suggestions, but he told me that he is still recovering and he doesn’t have the energy to take up something new right now.

As for me, I feel a bit at loose ends. Things are changing for me, too. My relationships with my husband and children are different. I probably won’t write about the process. Some of it is exciting. Some, not so much. After a year’s absence, I am planning to get involved with my writing group again. I am thinking about trying my hand at writing some fiction. I have a couple of ideas. I may start a different blog, not related to autism. Having a working computer in my writing corner is a big help.

Thank you all for going on this journey with me.


Leaving the Nest


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On Thursday, Ralph, Mary, Will and I traveled to Patty’s university apartment to celebrate Thanksgiving with her. 400 miles one way. I had debated if we should go at all. Whether the time and expense were something we should spend. We wanted to see Patty and visit with her…but after all, we are going to see her in two weeks when she flies home after the semester is over.

Ralph cooked a turkey on Tuesday with stuffing. We froze most of it and took it with us in a cooler. We bought donuts at the wonderful donut shop in our community and took them with us as well.

When we arrived, it was immediately apparent that the weeks of work, intense demands of graduate study, part-time work as a teacher’s assistant, and a week of influenza had taken a toll on the condition of her apartment. After some initial hugs, we immediately started to clean it up. The dishwasher was soon running. We made a few runs to the dumpster. Will helped Patty do all of her laundry.

Will stayed overnight at her very small apartment and spent more time teasing her and listening to her. He also mopped her floors, vacuumed, and organized her stuff.

We went out to lunch on Thursday and took her shopping. Will bought her a few more pans for his Christmas gift to her. But by Thursday night, she was starting to study again.

We left the next morning for our nine-hour trip back.

I am so glad we went. As an encouragement to her and reassurance to us that she could make it to the end of the semester. Will’s deep love for his sister was evident in his servant’s heart for her. Evidence that autism hasn’t impaired his ability to show love and empathy. A few weeks ago, he hired someone to give his house a thorough cleaning. He has been working 12-14 hours a day for one client on the east coast and another on the west coast. Yet he endured 18 hours of travel by car to Patty’s university to visit with her and clean her apartment. Today, I dropped him off at the airport in our town for his flight to the west coast.



Panic – What’s a Mom to Do?


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Thanks to technology, I can know instantly when my grown children are having a panic attack. No ESP or Mom’s intuition required.

Ping! The Facebook messenger notifies me. Pop! A text message announces itself. My computer makes another noise at work as a panicky email appears, ghost like and then fades.

My grown kids can reach out and touch me in so many ways. :)

Will lives 70 miles away in the state capitol. In the last three months, Ralph or I have received panicky communication regarding the following:

Anguished decision making regarding whether to make a job change. After four interviews, a job offer came with higher pay and more responsibility. Will accepted the job offer. The a few hours later, I received a phone call on the way home from work. He had crashed his car. It was less than a year old. “If only I hadn’t decided to drive to Verizon to reward myself with a new phone. I was too tired, too wound up to concentrate properly.”

“Will,” I said. “Accidents happen. Are you hurt? Is anyone else hurt?” “I don’t know. They are checking out a senior citizen. Here comes a police officer. I need to hang up.”

A few minutes later, he called back. “I can’t find my registration. Oh no. Oh no. Oh no.” “Will, people have that situation all the time. The police officer will know what to do.” The officer was able to look it up on his computer in his car.

Ralph went into rescue mode and drove to Will’s house, cleaned his house, cooked his meals.

The following Monday Will gave his two week notice to his current company. The next day, they came back with a better offer. Will was a mess, in a panic, losing sleep. He suffered high anxiety over a wonderful, dreadful choice. His dad stayed all week long, feeding him and cleaning house while he made his choice and he drove a rented car while his car was repaired. He stayed with his current company at twice the pay.

A few weeks later, his stove stopped working, after several attempts to keep it hobbling along. Ralph was on the phone with him several times convincing him to buy a good quality stove. Then, the day before Will had to leave for a business trip, the stove was delivered but couldn’t be hooked up due to the lack of qualifications of the delivery team to hook it up to gas. Ralph was staying at Will’s house for two weeks to take care of his three cats. So Ralph had no stove, but also was able to deal with the delivery people. They delivered the stove again, but the gas line was not up to code. Finally, after Will arrived home, the stove was hooked up.

Meanwhile, Patty was panicking during her first few weeks at Grad School. Her iritis finally went away a week after she arrived. During her first week, on the way to a required faculty party in her department, she fell while trying to catch the bus, getting some sore muscles and scratched up hands and face. She sent me an email while she sat in her office thinking about whether she would go to the party.

“Do you have to go? You could go home and tell them that you didn’t feel well.”

“I have to go. I’m an adult and I have to go, even though I was crying.”

“Well, if you have to go, give yourself a little rest.”

She walked over to the hotel, and went to the wine and cheese party. I prayed for her. What else could I do? I received a call at 10:00 p.m. “It went better than I thought. I was the only one who didn’t drink, but it was okay. I talked to my adviser; she was nicer than I thought, but a little loopy. They had food, but some of the grad students were disappointed there wasn’t pizza. We were all hungry.”

“Did you walk home?”

“No, another girl and I said we didn’t have a car, and one of the older grad students had pity on us and gave both of us a ride home.”

Patty was terrified of leading a discussion section. Her position was changed to grading only, which has worked out well for her.

She had awful, horrible cramps and finally went to the doctor, who put her on the pill. And said, given our family history of endometriosis, it was likely she had the classic symptoms. And that part of her problem was living away from home for the first time.

Last week she came down with influenza, and later this week, her iritis came back. She was frustrated that she couldn’t get through to her eye doctor. “I don’t have time for an appointment…but I have to go. I might go blind if I let this go. Maybe I’ll have to go to the ER.

“No. Don’t go to the ER. You don’t need to go to the ER. You can wait for an appointment.” At my desk at work, I looked up her doctor and called the office. I got right through. “My daughter likely has iritis and needs to see the doctor.” I made an appointment for Monday. And emailed her the time of the appointment. I sent her the correct phone number. (I look up medical providers for my job in order to obtain medical records for Medicare Set-Aside Proposals.) She called and changed the appointment and insisted the receptionist call the doctor and see if it was okay for her to start the treatment. She can take of herself, after all.

Most of Will’s panicky calls for help come to his father by phone. Most of Patty’s cries for help come via email, text, or Facebook messages.

What’s a parent to do as our kids start out on their own? Pray, give advice, and pray some more.




HIPAA Issues


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About a month ago, I noticed that Mary had an soft enlarged area around the base of her throat.

“You ought to get that looked at,” I said. “That area around your neck doesn’t look right.”

So Mary made an appointment with our family physicians practice. She has a different doctor than Ralph and I, a soft spoken muslim woman. We like her for Mary because she is quiet and calm, and yet firm and confident. Mary made an appointment and because she hadn’t been seen for five years, she had to fill out new paperwork. Sometimes Mary wants to be independent, which is normal for anyone, even adults with high functioning autism. So she filled out her paperwork and did not give Ralph or I permission to talk about her health conditions.

A few days after Mary’s appointment, our doctor’s office called me at my work office asking to have Mary call them and talk to a nurse. They also called Ralph on his cellphone. They were very anxious to get ahold of Mary regarding her condition. But they refused to discuss her health condition with either Ralph or me because Mary had not signed a HIPAA form allowing them to talk about her health condition. Mary has a relatively new phone and did not realize that her voice mail was not set up.

We had to have Mary call the doctor’s office. However, this was frustrating for Mary because she works in a call center during the doctor’s office hours, and does not have enough time to wait on hold to talk to a nurse. Finally on the third day, she was able to get through to talk to the nurse.

She had to get an ultrasound of her thyroid nodule. After that the office made a referral to an endocrine specialist for a fine needle biopsy. Mary’s thyroid nodule is benign by the way.

This episode surprised us and demonstrated the importance of talking about medical issues and paperwork. We told Mary that we had filled out HIPAAs with permission for our children to know about our health conditions, and she ought to do the same with Ralph and I, especially since we need to rearrange our schedules to get her to her medical appointments. She agreed somewhat reluctantly, I think because this is an area for independence for her. Still, it is an important issue to discuss and not be surprised about.

When Ralph took her to the endocrine specialist, he made sure that she signed the HIPAA paperwork to allow her doctors to talk to us. The nurse from that office called me, again because Mary’s voice mail still did not work. They had had a cancellation just before the holiday weekend and they were anxious to fill the spot and also save Mary the anxiety of waiting over the weekend. I said to her that we needed to know some information because Mary had some physical limitations and we had to provide her transportation. She was much more helpful. And the doctor had Ralph come in to be with Mary during the procedure.

I know that some day Mary will have to make all of these arrangements alone, but for now it is simply easier for her to get help from us.


An Emptier Nest


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Two down, one to go.


About a week ago, I took Patty to University. Her brother Will went with us to help with the driving and help with the move. The trip down there was 434 miles (Google’s estimate). We had to stop every two hours so Patty could put her eye drops for her iritis in. We left at 7:30 and arrived at about 3:45 p.m.

I am so glad Will came with us. He kept Patty busy with conversation and did do some of the driving. He helped me carry things from my little red car up to Patty’s new apartment. “I’m amazed you go all of this stuff in your little car,” he said.  He went with us to Staples and bought her a printer and an office chair. Then he went to Wal-Mart and bought a T.V. for her. (His sister, Mary paid for part of the T.V.)

We left Patty to sleep in her new apartment, while we slept in an economy hotel. She said she slept surprisingly well, despite her new situation. We went to Aldi’s and Kroger and stocked her cupboards and refrigerator. We tried to do what we could to make her life comfortable and supplied so that she wouldn’t have to go to the store right away, since she has no car.


Will cooked spaghetti sauce and chili and packed it up in freezer containers so she would have something easy to warm up for meals. His dad did the same for him when he moved away three years ago.

When we left, we hugged long and hard. After we left she told us that she cried for two hours. She has to face everything in new surroundings, dealing with a fairly serious health issue, and missing her family. The second day, she told us she cried less. and she went to the ophthalmologist in her town, and found out that her iritis is gone. The doctor told her  She has to taper off the steroids; and is hoping that it won’t come back. She has been busier every day, met her advisers, and other graduate students in her department, along with the professor she is working for. Tomorrow she begins both her own classes and the class she will be T.A. -ing.

I drove all the way back; Will’s back was aching. Although he does drive his own car, he is an inexperienced driver, especially in the dark in the rain. We talked all the way back, even though he wanted to sleep. We had to pull over on the freeway in a large city because it was raining so hard. God kept us safe. We stopped at a hotel on the way home because I was too tired to drive anymore. But we got home. Will told me that helping his sister out was “worth it.” We talked about his beliefs, his home life, work life, struggles with making friends, and longing for a wife. In listening to him, I was overcome with joy at the man Will is becoming.

Our home is quieter, much quieter. Patty’s personality is big, effervescent, loud. (Our semi-feral cat, Wendy is officially afraid of her noise). Ralph misses her intensely. She took a year off between undergrad and graduate school. She has been home for him through his illness. It gave me some comfort to have her home. I went shopping for groceries Monday night. I had to stop myself from buying food that she likes. It was unsettling.

We are praying Patty will be successful, make friends in her new home, find fellowship in a church, grow spiritually and professionally.

Our nest is emptying out. Maybe Mary will move next summer. Then we will have to decide what to do with this four bedroom house. A transition for all of us. This is what we’ve been working for all this time. Thank you, Lord. It feels so odd, now that it is here.








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