Sunday I preached at a church in Watertown, South Dakota. That’s about 2 hours north of us.
Because our son with autism has had a string of sleepless (read active, boisterous) nights, and my wife has been up with him so I could sleep enough to work, I decided to chance some chaos and take Joey on the road with me so Melissa could sleep.
The risk is that Joey is an excellent traveler but a terrible arrive-er. He’s fine on a long car ride or even a plane flight. He loves looking out windows-in-motion. But once at the destination, he starts saying, Go back to Joey’s house and doesn’t want to take part in the doings at the new location, at least while it’s strange to him.
On the way up to Watertown, I played music he likes. He’s a big fan of The Guess Who. He likes all kinds of music but he’s especially attentive to vocals, and Burton Cummings is no slouch. I’ve had this Guess Who collection to play in the car for him for more than ten years. It was important when we moved halfway across the country back in 2004.
Soooo… we arrive at church and Joey is calm but not social. One person said, Joey, you can sit down wherever you want. Which of course led to him sitting in the pastor’s seat, unwilling to budge. The folks weren’t bothered, and they got me a matching chair.
Joey was calm throughout the service and
endured listened to my sermon. I sat next to him when other people offered readings or prayers, and he was responsive to my requests that he use indoor voice when others were speaking.
After the service, he wasn’t interested in visiting, even when pastry appeared.
<–This picture presents Joey’s version of what church-types call fellowship.
Again, he wasn’t agitated. He just looked out onto the sunny day while the rest of us swilled coffee.
He was patient while I signed a copy of my book for a church member and visited with folks for a few minutes.
I was blessed by one person’s account of having worked at a state facility. She pointed out the great changes in a very short span of years – it wasn’t long ago that such facilities were, by design, a way for families to keep members with special needs out of sight and out of mind. Now, family caregivers are more active participants and advocates in the lives of their loved ones, even those who are in institutional settings.
I offered to take Joey to lunch, and listed some of his favorite foods to help him choose. He resonated with quesadillas, so off to Guadalajara we drove.
Here’s Joey downing some tortilla chips while waiting for the quesadilla to come. Glad he was in bright primary blue – he fit right into the restaurant’s decor.
We had a very nice lunch and drive back, with more Guess Who.
All in all, it was a sweet day. Mom got some overdue and well deserved rest; dad and son had an enjoyable road trip. The fear of chaos didn’t pan out and a few minor misadventures at church were more humorous than anxious.
In case you’re wondering, here’s Joey’s favorite Guess Who track,