Ten years ago (man how time flies), I wrote the stories in my first book, Seasons of the Soul. The book is a collection of inspirational stories, which includes a spattering of personal accounts of my two autistic sons. Today, I thought I would share one of the stories. Look for the book on Amazon.com in paperback and in audio editions. Available on Amazon.com.
“Family Boston Trip”
Andrew, my 19-year-old autistic son, sat next to me as the family waited for the plane to take off from Omaha’s Eppley Airfield. We were headed for Boston. I sat next to the window while Andrew sat near the aisle.
His leg jerked up and down as he intermittently fastened and unfastened his seat belt. I tried to calm down his anxiety by telling him we soon would take off. My words, though, were in vain because within minutes Andrew darted off the plane. That was the beginning of several mishaps that occurred during our Boston trip of 2004.
My husband Paul ran after Andrew. Paul was sitting across the aisle with Brad, our oldest autistic son. I moved over next to him I wanted to make sure Brad did not get up. We did not know if Brad understood what was going on since he could not talk.
Paul caught up with Andrew. The two re-boarded the plane. But the pilot made them exit the cabin to undergo a new security check because Andrew ran onto the tarmac. Minutes seemed like hours as I waited for Paul and Andrew to again re-board.
“We understand your son did not do this deliberately,” the stewardess said. “But we may have to boot the whole family off the plane.” I panicked. Paul spent too many days planning this trip for it all to come to a quick end.
My brain surged into gear! “Andrew could sit next to the window with Paul in the outside seat,” I told her. “That way, my husband could make sure Andrew would stay seated.”
Security officials agreed. Soon we took off—surprisingly only about 20 minutes late. We landed at Boston’s Logan International Airport three hours later. Then we rented a car, and I drove it to Danvers, Mass.
From there, we visited Boston’s Freedom Trail, toured Martha’s Vineyard and went on a whale watch. Although we never saw any humpback whales, we did see its related counterpart—dolphins. That made Andrew happy.
I drove the family to Plymouth, where we saw Plymouth Rock and went inside the Mayflower replica. We then proceeded to Hyannis on Cape Cod. The next day we visited several Cape Cod villages, including Orleans the home of Rock Harbor.
I parked the car and grabbed my camera. We walked over to the harbor to get a better view. I decided to take some close-up pictures. I stepped into the water. Then placed my purse on an upper rock near the shore. I just finished taking a couple of pictures when high tide came in.
The waves rose to my knees and splashed onto the ledge where I put my purse. The tide drenched my purse, including our airline boarding passes, my checkbook and the Omaha Eppley Airport’s parking stub. Paul dried out the boarding passes and the checkbook. But the flimsy, lightweight parking stub was ruined. That created a problem because without the stub, Omaha airport parking officials wanted us to pay almost triple the normal $24 weekly rate.
“But the stub was ruined when my purse got drenched during high tide,” I told the parking attendant.
“I will talk with the manager,” she replied. The attendant returned about 10 minutes later, telling us the manager agreed to have us pay the usual rate. We were grateful.
Prior to that, though, the family had another problem. Brad had a grand-mal seizure while on our return flight home. “Is there anything we can do to help?” the flight attendant asked.
“I will need a wheelchair when we land,” I replied. An airport employee met us with the wheelchair. Paul took it from him. He put Brad in it, wheeling him down to the luggage area.
My husband then rented a luggage cart and placed our luggage on it. I took the wheelchair, and Paul pushed the cart. Andrew carried two suitcases. We walked toward the long-term parking lot.
The van, though, was difficult to locate because it was dark. And there was no parking stub to help us find it. We walked back and forth, locating it about 15 minutes later. Paul put Brad in the back seat and fastened his seat belt. Then he walked over to where Andrew and I stood ready to load the luggage. Paul grabbed the suitcases and put them into the trunk area. I just was relieved the whole trip was over.
Slowly, I walked toward the front, got into the driver’s seat and adjusted my seat belt. I wanted to insert the key into the ignition, but didn’t know if I had the energy to do it. I sighed. Then, I looked over at my husband and said: “Now, I really need a vacation.” He laughed. Then I drove the family home.