Posts Tagged ‘Pa’

My father and I went down to see Jonah today.  Armed with lunch, a couple of DVDs, a bag of toys and books for Jonah’s house, and one last donation to the upcoming fundraiser gala, dad and I set forth.  We talk easier than ever before, and share stories, and if the talk gets heated, or charged with emotion, it is okay.  It was not always okay, but it is now.  Now my relationship with my father is very good.  We chatted the whole way down and arrived just a few minutes before noon.

And so I give you this week’s “black soda” face, complete with crumb-on-lip:

And, of course, Jonah’s chosen swing:

“Mommy push?”  He asked, grinning.

I think his caregivers and teachers call me mommy, so that’s what he calls me now.  I still slipped and said mama, but I can get behind mommy – it’s a ‘nomenclature graduation’ of sorts.

His school encourages as much independence as possible, and they’re right to do so.  It was too easy for me to continue to talk to him (and treat him) more like a baby than a nine-year-old kid.  At his new school he helps do his own laundry, is almost completely potty trained already, and can attend to tasks in the classroom.  They really seem to like him.  It feels good, especially when they tell me about it.  His teacher wrote to me, in part:

“Jonah’s been doing very well adjusting to the classroom and staff…we all enjoy his presence a great deal. He’s a lot of fun to have in the classroom and VERY bright!  Yesterday was the first day we had some aggression since we’ve been back!!

 When we do group work, most of the time, he sits well and seems to enjoy the lessons. We’re all still learning so much about him and part of that is realizing when he needs to take a break from work.

Although he can sit and work with us for a while, there are times when he will get teary and asks all done work?  So now, we’re trying to figure out when he needs a break before he gets to that point.

When he does get a break, he is always good about coming back to the table and finishing the lesson.

 I can’t stress enough how much we all enjoy having him in the classroom!”

This was great to hear, aside from the aggression;  I enthusiastically forwarded her message to Andy.

I’m glad to know they are trying hard to understand what makes him tick.  I’m so happy when I get to see him — and I kiss, inhale, hug, hold him as tight as he’ll allow it – to carry with me until I can see him again.

It was hot on the playground today.   After we had our lunch at the picnic table, we went to the swing set and had  fun together, Jonah wanting to stay on his favorite swing.  Mommy push.  And push and push and push, higher and higher, singing Guster and pushing, Jonah sailing high in the summer-like sun.  Finally I snuck away to the shade and Pa kept him smiling:

One of his caregivers came out and said the best way to transition him when we leave is to go back inside the house with him.  It sounded reasonable to us, so this time when it was time to go, we said goodbye in Jonah’s room and then a careworker moved in and engaged him as we walked out.  Quickly.  Trying not to look back.

(Ripping the band aid off, as it turns out, was much easier than tearing it bit by bit).

On the drive back, my dad insisted on filling up my gas tank, even though I didn’t really need it yet.  Now that he’s gone and I’m home and it’s hours later, I’m reflecting on him and how, even when I’ve been mad at him, I’ve had to admit he’s a man of integrity.

An earnest, hard-working, genuine man.  A secret-keeper.  History lover.  A man with a work ethic.  A saver.  A man with an inner moral compass always pointing in the right direction – who’d always stop and defend another against hurt or hate.  Proud of his ancestry and family history.  A man who’d help you move and never take a dime for doing it.

A man who believes in giving people a chance and, if need be, a leg up.  He roots for the underdog and wants always to do the right thing.  When he says just try your best, he means it.  I think because he always tried his best.

He always tried.

If I had to pick a song to express him, inasmuch as you can ever encapsulate a person that way, I’d pick “Something Wonderful” from The King and I.

“This is a man who thinks with his heart,
His heart is not always wise.
This is a man who stumbles and falls,
But this is a man who tries.

This is a man you’ll forgive and forgive,
And help protect, as long as you live…

He will not always say
What you would have him say,
But now and then he’ll do

He has a thousand dreams
That won’t come true,
You know that he believes in them
And that’s enough for you…”

I’m grateful to have such a man as a father, and as a grandfather for my little Boo sweet boy.

I love them both very much.

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On Sunday, the 10th anniversary of 911, my dad and I drove down to visit Jonah.

Ten years ago, September 11th was a Tuesday.  I worked part time for St. Francis de Sales Church and I was pregnant with Boo.  I had just started feeling him move around inside me – a tiny, timid mouse nibbling at my insides.  Wow.  I’d been so excited the day I learned I was pregnant – June 14th, 2001.

Then, just 3 months later, September 11th.  As I learned of one catastrophe after the next, everything went into slow motion.  All action ground to a halt.   Like everyone else, I was in shock.  I felt grief and anger, terror and outrage.  I felt the eerie silence of the skies when all commercial planes were grounded.  And when planes did begin to fly again, nobody could look at them without remembering 911.

What shitty timing we have, bringing a baby into this brave new world of terror & fear, I thought.

As it turned out, growing a baby inside me and taking care of that teeny baby gave me hope again.  Of course, after 911, things were never the same.  But I’d hold Jonah in my arms and wish a mother’s wish:  maybe he’ll be the one to change the world.

On the drive down to visit him yesterday, I asked my father all about politics and presidents.  My dad’s a history buff and I like listening to his perspective, especially about things and people who made history happen before I was born.   My dad’s got quite the objective viewpoint, lending his ear to Bill O’ Reilly and Michael Moore alike before forming an opinion.  So I listened, and we talked, and it rained, and I thought oh shit, we’re not going to even be able to take Jonah to the playground – but we were lucky.  It stopped raining and by the time we got to the school, the ground was dry.  At first Jonah backed off, but then walked toward us, asking car ride?  I told him we were going to the playground instead.

He was a good boy, little Boo.  He and my dad (Jonah calls him Pa) went on the swings.

Already, Jonah has a favorite swing and goes to it every time.

Jonah laughed and sailed through the air, asking mama push?

I pushed him and pushed him.  On and on he sailed on his chosen swing.  Back home he was never all that interested in swings.  I watched him and wondered why, and I pushed him, and he let Pa push him, and I pushed him some more until it felt like a workout (which is lame, I know).  Then we walked up to the visitor’s center, where we gave yummy grapes and contraband black soda to a joyful Jonah.

Oh yeah!

In Francis Hodgson Burnett’s book The Secret Garden, wise Susan Sowerby says, “the two worst things that can happen to a child are to always get what he wants, or to never get it.”   So he gets his black soda once in a while.

After our impromptu picnic we walked down to the pond and back up to the swings.  “Who’s that?” I asked Jonah, pointing to my dad.

“Pa,” he said in his small, sweet voice, smiling.  He was good, little Boo, if a little hesitant.  We brought him back to the visitor’s center where he used the potty like a pro, and back again to his beloved friend, Swing.  But eventually it was time to go.  I prayed he’d let us go without a care, which I knew was a longshot at best.  Of course Jonah panicked.  Home? he cried.  Home?

I told him daddy was coming later (he was, thank God) and both my dad and I kissed him goodbye,  but when a care worker started to guide him toward the house, he bolted after me and clung to my side, wailing.  Twice more we got him back to his house and twice more he squirmed away, running fast after us, now openly crying.  Oh, sweetheart, I told him.  It’s okay.  Snack is soon, and daddy’s coming.

Finally he was inside his house, and my father and I walked away faster, not looking back.  Faster.

I’m grateful my dad let me weep and feel sorry for myself for as long as I needed.  He took a slower route home – hurting more than I know he let on.

I spent the rest of the night unpacking and putting clothes away in a sad daze, and when I fell asleep I had foggy, uncomfortable dreams.

This morning I wanted to turn over and go back to sleep, but I knew I couldn’t.  If you lose a Monday in my job, it makes Tuesday ridiculously hard. 

Mid-morning my cell phone rang; it was the nurse at Jonah’s school.  She told me Jonah was okay, but he was taken by ambulance to the hospital because he had a bump on his head and then he threw up, and they wanted to make sure he didn’t have a head injury.  Then, not 15 minutes later, she calls again to tell me he’s being transferred to a larger hospital in Poughkeepsie.  At this point I really started to worry.  I’m glad they were over-cautious but the two-hospital gig was unnerving.

Andy went to see him and turns out he was okay – they think he maybe had an allergic reaction to mosquito bites.  (He did have 4 or 5 bites on his forehead when I visited him with my dad).  They brought him back to his house and he rested for a while.

So for a few hours today I was trying not to panic, but inside I was terrified.  Heart through the wringer, two days in a row.

When I called his house around 8pm to see how the rest of his day was, they assured me he was fine.  He played on his scooter, ate well, and went to bed just a little early.  I called Andy and my mom to relay this latest news.

Now I’m sitting in a rocking chair and half-watching All in the Family as I type.  I’m breathing deep, in and out, smiling over at cat Almanzo on his scratching-post perch:

His paws make a heart when he puts them together, sweet thing…

…and dog Jack is hanging out looking cute:

M and I are both typing.  I’m thinking of Boo, grateful he is okay.

There are boxes and bags everywhere, but we’re ignoring that because we feel like it.  I’m exhausted and I’m writing like it.  I’d like a day where not much of anything happens.

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