Weak Penalty Killing

National Hockey League playoffs are underway. They’ve given me the metaphor for this post.

For those who don’t know, if you are penalized in hockey, you lose a player for a specified period of time. He sits in the penalty box and you don’t get to replace him. You have to play “short handed” – the other team engages in what’s called a “power play” and you try to “kill the penalty” by preventing them from scoring ’til your penalized player returns to the ice.

So, tonight Melissa and I are short handed. We’re both under the weather. Usually there’s at least one of us healthy if the other one is down. But now we’re both in the penalty box*. So Joey has the power play on.

He’s going pretty easy on us so far. Of late he’s taken to blasting video clips at higher than usual volume, including speaker distortion noise. So that’s no fun. And he’s chuckling a lot, which is actually kinda sweet and comforting. Still, dinner and bath time are ahead…

But we are making our best penalty killing effort.

*Why are we being penalized? Because we had the temerity to have fun. That’s a care giving violation. We went to Charleston, SC to visit our older son and his wife. It was wonderful. Therefore we must pay. Here’s a picture of Melissa smiling… that’s why the refs blew the whistle.


Y como castigo (and as punishment…)

Our friend Mr. Monte came to the rescue once again. He’s our family IT guy, a critical emergency job with Joey’s ability to work voodoo on his old desktop and then be unhappy when mom and dad can’t fix it.

Monte has it working tip top. Joey is very happy and is watching YouTube at an enthusiastic volume. One of his on-again, off-again delights is to watch favorite movie clips in foreign languages. I think the voices selected to dub familiar parts are what tickle him.

So one of this week’s line up of loud is:

About midway through is Y como castigo, lo transformo* en una horrible bestia, “And as punishment, she transformed him into a horrible beast.” Getting Mr. Monte to fix the computer seems to have been a good deed for which we are being punished with loud video clips played over and over.

Y Melissa y yo seremos transformados en bestias if this keeps up much longer.

* Yes, that needs an accent on the last “o.” I’m keyboard impaired when it comes to stuff like that.


Even unexpected good news can bowl us over.

Melissa was surprised when I proposed to her. She remembers it as one of the few times she was at a loss for words. (fortunately she gasped out “Yes”).

Christians celebrate Easter, when the first reaction to Jesus’ empty tomb was,

…they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid (Mark 16:8).

Care giving usually begins with a surprise. Generally, it is a traumatic incident or an unwelcome diagnosis at the doctor’s office.

But even that kind of “bad news” can lead to surprises that become blessings over time.

If you’ve not heard this talk by Pamela Nelson, give yourself the 13 minutes to listen. She comes to “12 Tips” for caregivers. Some of these reflect surprises that “come our way” as we care for someone else.

I recognized several of them. They were things I resisted in my pre-caregiver life, but discovered as welcome surprises along the way.

For example, she mentions taking breaks instead of storming from task to task. That was a surprise that improved my life. I spent years in the “Type A” mode, feeling alive and productive by rushing from one thing to the next. With care giving, I found it a source of frustration, not just for me but for my loved ones. We all enjoy our days and one another more when I intentionally slow down and take breaks, often to just hang out with them.

Give it a listen. Which of her 12 tips speak to you?

And while I’m at it, Happy Easter and springtime blessings to you and yours. May welcome surprises come.

May name is Joey, and I’m an…

So, the kid attended his first 12 Step meeting last night.

Melissa and I were at a Good Friday service at church. Joey doesn’t sit well through church stuff, and he doesn’t contribute to things like solemn silence. So he went to hang out in a room downstairs where the couches are comfy and the people are absent.

After the service, I went down to get him, only to realize that an AA group meets down there on Friday nights.

Joey was sitting in the circle, smiling. The folks didn’t seem perturbed.

I managed to wave at Joey from out in the hallway so I didn’t have to crash the meeting.

Since coming home, he’s not violated any of their confidentiality.

I wonder if he stood up in the meeting and said, “My name is Joey, and I’m autistic.”

Nah. Doubt it.

Oh well, our contribution to Autism Awareness Month ’round here.

Washed up

Joey’s 21 now and we still help him take baths.

He doesn’t have the fine motor dexterity to manage the balance of hot and cold water. He could easily burn himself.

He can have seizures and take falls.

On a less dire note, he thinks nothing of making messes. So he wouldn’t turn the water off on his own once the tub filled, and would simply slosh lots of water here and there, probably while chuckling in great joy.

For my part, it is one of the care giving chores at which I chafe. It has to happen right in the middle of each evening. It is one of the reasons that Melissa and I can’t just “go out” on a whim, and it has to be factored into invitations to have others over or to go out at all.

Meanwhile, it’s Maundy Thursday on the Christian calendar, when we remember the Last Supper and hear about how Jesus washed the feet of his disciples.

Churches reenact the foot washing, with mixed results. In most places, its an uncomfortable symbolic thingie. Most of us don’t want to come up and take off our shoes and socks in a public setting, especially after a day at work. We’re instinctively uncomfortable with letting someone who is not a podiatrist expose and play with our piggies. Some churches recruit a couple of victims in advance, but more often there’s an invitation made to the congregation during the service and there’s lots of uncomfortable silence and fidgeting until someone comes up and gets it over with.

That’s how I always experienced foot washing, until one day the what Jesus did and what we do with Joey bumped into each other:

When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. (John 13:12-17 ESV)

What Jesus did was real. Foot washing wasn’t just a symbol in those days, when people walked on dirt roads in sandals. It was real hygiene and real hospitality. It was a menial chore, too – people of importance had servants to do it – but Jesus did it himself and called down a blessing upon those who would do likewise.

Much of care giving is foot washing. Not literal scrubbing of heels, arches and toes, or symbolic piety, but stinky work which, all things considered, most of us would rather not do.

In understanding what Jesus did, there was less inner resistance to helping Joey bathe. Some peace and joy in it, sometimes. Although I (Tim) still wish he would wait for halftime when there’s a game on.

I still have much to learn and do.