Friday, November 2


I think I have always taken the ability to communicate for granted, that is until I worked with a stroke survivor several years ago. I was a caregiver for a man who had a stroke, and was only able to say about four words. He could say "yes," "no," and two more words that I will not mention in this post. Sometimes he would say them calmly, and other times, depending on how long it took me to understand, he would grow more frustrated, and elevate his voice. I would be equally frustrated at my inability to comprehend what he was trying to relay. We used to take long car rides where he would point me in the direction he wanted to go. I think I saw some of the most scenic parts of Washington during those times. We were silent most of the time for obvious reasons, but he loved to listen to Dr. Laura. So, that is how we spent our days. We drove, he laughed while the callers would get chastised for their stupidity by Dr. Laura, I took him to his appointments, then I would take him back home. I used to take it personally when he would get frustrated and yell, but since I have had years of distance from the situation, I realize it was his inability to communicate that was the issue, and not my incompetence. I think I would react the same way or worse. He has since passed away, and even though this was one of the most difficult jobs I have ever had, I have many fond memories of my times with him.

I have thought of him often, and was just reflecting on the correlation between working with him, and parenting a toddler. The situation with Justin is similar because I care about him so much, and I want to get it right. I want to know what he is thinking and needing from me. When he cries, I want to know how to make it better. The longer and louder he cries, the worse I feel. But once he settles down, I feel like a great Mom until I am humbled by more crying, and the need to read his mind all over again. Fortunately, over time, I have learned to differentiate between his cries that he is tired, hungry, or needs his diaper changed.  A few weeks ago, Justin woke up with a fever, and was crying like something was really wrong. Usually he wakes up happy, so when he is out of sorts, I worry.  I was able to take him into the doctor, and found out that he had an ear infection.  Without the doctor, I would not have known what was wrong, and the infection would have gone undetected.  Babies must feel so helpless when they really need to communicate something, and simply don't have the words.  I am always amazed that at the end of days like this one at how Justin is so forgiving, as if he forgets his frustrations with me, and continues to love me even though I am so limited in every way.  This is also humbling.  With every day that passes, I am so extremely grateful for this beautiful gift, and what he means to me.

One day, I will be able to communicate with my son, and that makes me very happy.  He will be able to tell me when he doesn't feel well, or if he is upset by something.  That is the difference between my relationship with him and my former client.  I will never be able to ask him what it was like to have his independence stripped away from him in an instant.  We will never be able to talk about what made him laugh while we were listening to Dr. Laura.  In both relationships, however I will look back with fondness at even the silent times with Juan, and with Justin, the times of babbling and laughing even if I didn't know what it was about. I will never take my ability to communicate for granted, as it is also a huge gift.

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Italy trip

I have been going through my pictures, and have enjoyed looking at this album of Italy. I was able to go over last year to attend a conference. This was the first time I have been back in twenty years. The pictures are made up mostly of places we lived as a family. My brother and I were able to go together, and we were graciously hosted by some friends of ours from language school in Perugia. I feel such a sense of nostalgia when I look at these pictures. I miss Italy so much. It was strange to go back as a tourist knowing I would be returning to the US after such a short time. Tonight I made cookies with Nutella in them, and I remembered how much I enjoyed the simple pleasures. Fortunately, you can find it here! Saturday, we are going up to my brother's house to celebrate a late Thanksgiving, only we will be making homemade tortellini instead of turkey. Happy Thanksgiving!