I can’t get over some of the twists and turns that have occurred along this journey with my husband Barry and his FTD. I am no longer surprised when “serendipity” suddenly appears out of the blue. I remember a few weeks ago when Barry’s nurse told me that I should not stop feeding him because he is not quite finished here on earth. The nurse added that I also am not done learning from Barry and this journey. His words were powerful and I have continued to have Barry fed, when he can swallow.
That nurse was right, I am not done learning.
Late this spring, my niece Sally asked if I would speak to a class at Southview Junior High School where she helps out each week. It is a special education program with the great name of ASPIRE. When the teacher asked if I would give a talk, I explained that I charge for speaking engagements. I still feel guilty even after all these years about charging schools for a talk; but it is how I make a living.
The teacher emailed back, saying that they did not have any money for a speaker. So that was that. But a few days later she emailed to say a parent had stepped forward to pay for me to come. I felt pretty guilty again, but a few weeks later I went to speak at the school. It was a fun morning. There was lots of excitement as I taught the students how to draw my characters. A couple of the guys really, really liked drawing and kept telling me so! I loved it because the kids were so happy and enthusiastic. I also was really proud to see Sally maturing into such a caring young woman. A few days later, school was out for summer vacation and I was on to other things, like visiting Barry at his care center each day.
As I visited the care center on a lovely summer day, I felt crabby and irritated as I walked by two young men waiting outside the care center front door. As I passed, I heard one say, “That looks just like Nancy Carlson.” I turned around and said, “I am Nancy Carlson!” I then noticed the teacher and that one of the boys was wearing a Southview Junior High shirt. I remembered them both from that class visit. Sam especially liked drawing and when I was done speaking to his class, he said, “I am going to be an author and illustrator just like you Nancy Carlson!”
Turns out that Sam and Ryan worked during the summer at the care center each morning. They might do a craft, read the sports page to a resident or help with simple exercises. They also do a little cleaning. Wow. Serendipity showed up again. Both boys were so happy to help each day at the care center and their joy made me feel better about being there as well. So now I seek out the boys and take time to visit with them when I visit Barry. Each day they are thrilled with just about everything. They don’t see the place as sad and depressing. They love their work and feel proud. The feeling of pride is a good thing for all of us to experience.
I still don’t love the place, but I am kind of proud that I am surviving this journey. Sam and Ryan’s happy spirits rub off on me each time I see them and I feel better about being there. I guess Barry’s nurse was right when he said that I still have more to learn. Thank you Sam and Ryan for teaching me the lesson of finding some joy in each day!