Side Effects of Turning 18

The day we have dreaded since December 7, 2017 has arrived. On that evening of December 7, 2017, Jack had one of his most violent outbursts to date. It was an endless evening, night, & wee hours of the morning bouts of violence. He was taken via ambulance to our local ER, then transferred to UNC pediatric intensive care unit where he was tied to a bed for over 12 hours. We’ve done a pretty good job keeping the violence down…until today. Last Friday, August 2, Jack turned 18. Those that know us personally & keep up with my blogs know that Jack turning 18 is momental for him. This is his idea of adulthood, but how can one be an adult with violent behaviors, zero reasoning skills, severe mental illness, & catastrophic health condition. In fact, Dravet Syndrome is described as a rare, catastrophic, lifelong form of epilepsy-the foundations words, not mine. The definition of catastrophic is causing great damage or suffering, a tragedy, fatal, awful, terrible, etc… We have been through everyone of these definitions except fatal. How can you tell someone with all of these conditions that just because you are 18, it don’t mean anything for you? You can’t, it’s totally impossible. He’s like the Lil Nas & Billy Ray Cyrus song Old Town Road…can’t nobody tell me nothin’.

Getting to the day we have dreaded since the above date, Jack went to GameStop & Walmart today with his caretaker- has gone everyday since his birthday. Going to Walmart everyday for five days straight is enough to run someone crazy. For his birthday, we all got him either money, GameStop cards or Walmart cards. The only thing he is into currently is Pokémon & GameStop, buying him gifts is extremely difficult. He learned that GameStop accepts trades. This is not a good thing for Jack. Not only does Jack have a ton of health & mental conditions, he has an addiction problem with games & such & spending money. Because he does not have the capability of understanding concepts & ideas like we do, he thinks if he buys a $20 game & trades it in to GameStop for $3 or $4 he has accomplished something, when in fact, he has lost money. His caretaker pulled the store associate to the side & informed them that Jack wasn’t understanding what he was doing. They told Jack he needed a drivers license to trade, this was just a ploy to try to break the “trade-in” cycle he is now in. After they left the store, Jack grabbed hold of her wrist & squeezed it until they got to our house. She then called me, I called Lee, we were home within minutes. We were able to get him out of them car, but he still had it out for her. He walked towards her & I knew he was going to attack her. I then tried to get Jack in the house, he then turned on me. Jack started punching me in the stomach & kicking me, I flattened him on the ground & laid on top of him. Sherry & Lee saw what was going on & helped in the hold down. When Jack becomes violent, all we can do is hold him down. I now know why I weigh 200lbs., it’s to take Jack down when needed. Never going to complain again about my weight, it could be saving my life, but will probably kill me one day, too. He doesn’t weight but 115lbs., but he’s strong as a freaking ox & will do some serious damage to a body. But even after holding him down after only 10 minutes it becomes so exhausting & fatiguing to our 40 something year old bodies. Thankfully, the attack was outside & only lasted around five minutes. The pebbles in the driveway were digging into his arms, legs, & head. Had he been inside, the fight would of probably lasted a long time. If inside, the spell is harder to break than the spell cast on the town in the movie Hocus Pocus.

I now also know why I’ve been having such vivid, tragic dreams so frequently now, my dreams were a warning of what was to come. There are a few things to be thankful for with today’s events. 1. Jack’s caregiver didn’t have an altercation with him while driving. 2. His caregiver was able to call me. 3. Lee & myself were able to get home before he started fighting. 4. Thankful for neighbors who arrive within minutes for backup should we need it. How embarrassing it is to call upon friends over something like this! We hate it, but it is necessary. These things I am so grateful for. But I’m also ticked that this is something that we have to deal with. It ruins your day, your week, your month. Makes you scared to live in your own home. Makes you walk on eggshells. Ruins any plans that you were considering or plans made. I was planning on cooking a good supper tonight. That was thrown out the window because I became too depressed to cook. Now I’m stuck at 8:30pm riding to town to find some sort of mess to fill my grumbling stomach which I hate with a passion. I’m a meat & two veggies kind of gal. I hate to leave Lee home alone with a ticking time bomb. Winter of 2018, we finally stopped carrying around mace since Jack was doing so well, however, since turning 18 has resulted in side effects similar to some of the most powerful, harmful medications known to man, the mace is back. We will all have to have it now until this storm settles, but will it I ask myself? Will the age of 18 continue to make Jack anxious, make him a crazed maniac? The altercations never get easier, the emotions are the same each time-spent, depression, nervousness, & fear.

I never fought a day in my life-well, there was that one time when a girl from Rockingham (neighboring town) was talking about how trashy people from Ellerbe (my town) were. I didn’t take that lightly, so I karate chopped her in the back of the neck, nothing more became of that. Got to stick up for your peeps! Now at the age of 43, I have to worry about my own son fighting me over foolishness. What a scary disorder to have, but even scarier on the caretakers. He makes it scary to live at home & even scarier to leave it. I ask you all that pray, to pray that Jack’s mind will calm down. Pray that he will not think about being 18 any more. Pray for our safety. I know prayers work, we’ve seen the miracles from your prayers with the problems Jack was having before by getting “catfished”. Thank you all.

Chair Nail

Most of you ladies reading this have had the pleasure of having a girls day and/or a day of pampering at a nail salon. It is no secret that most of the people that run/work in nail salons are foreign-which is great. At times, the employees can be a little difficult to understand, as am I sometimes. My hillbilly accent can be tough to decipher if you’re not from Ellerbe, NC. Ava & I enjoyed a girls day out about a month ago. I felt we both deserved it. She works hard for a 13 year old, she inherited an assumed position as an ice cream scooper inside the world’s largest strawberry-one of the kickbacks or drawbacks (depends on the day of the week you ask her) of having your parents own a business. Ava gets scheduled in like all of our other employees. During our girls day, we entered the nail spa for a posh treatment on our little piggies. Upon entering, a woman wearing a mask asks what service we wanted, I replied a pedicure for both. She then said (what I thought) “you like pedicure or chair nail”. My logic is she thinks a pedicure is just painting your toenails, a chair nail is the whole experience with the massage & all. Of course I replied, “chair nail”. She then instructed me to go pick out “gel nail”. The technician was saying gel nail all along, I was the big dummy thinking it was “chair nail”. Ava thought I was the most mortifying mother in the world at that moment, she is 13 after all! Regrettably, I went along with the “chair nail” & we still have the mess on our toes that is impossible to remove at home unless you soak your toes in pure Clorox & use a power sanding tool afterwards. The “chair nail” cost the same as a standard pedicure plus an additional $15-what a rip off. Nail salons are not for me. I’m better off trimming my hooves & painting my toenails on our deck with Walmart polish. I told Lee I needed to go back to the salon to get the gel polish taken off, he replied & was dead serious about it, “can’t you soak your toes in gasoline?” I’ll pass on that relaxing sounding soak!

Recently, I’ve had trouble sleeping. I toss & turn all night & morning, waking multiple times. I remember a time in my life when I closed my eyes, I would stay asleep for at least 8 hours. I’m not sure if it’s because I am getting older & approaching the dreaded phase women face or if it’s because of the terrible dreams I’ve been having, perhaps both. My dreams have always been bizarre even as a child, I have even had some intuitive dreams where some of them have come true. One of my most recent bizarre dreams that have awakened me involved Coleman. I dreamt Lee & I went to pick him up from his internship in Minnesota. Coleman’s hair was absolutely tremendous, think the size of your arms making a circle. In his hair were gnats & tumors growing on the outside of his head. I’m sure he is happy to hear I’m sharing such foolishness here. This was just to explain the crazy dreams that fill my head at night. I think about that dream everyday since-it was beyond disturbing. Nearly every single night for the last few months, I have had extremely real-seeming dreams about Jack. Jack drowning, Jack having a really bad seizure, Jack becoming violent. When these dreams wake me, I am awake for the rest of the night or morning most of the time. The dreams are so life-like because they could very likely be real life in an instant & it makes me wonder if these are intuitive dreams. Maybe I should help Dionne Warwick re-start her career & get her run a 900 psychic line for me!

It’s moments like “chair nail” that make me thankful for the crazy, funny moments that seem to often occur in my life. Thinking about these things through the day make me giggle & giggle I need to do. Maybe this is why God places weirdos in my path so that I can sit back & remember the oddities that I’ve encountered & have a good laugh. On any given night, I can be found lying in bed & thinking of something funny & in hysterics. Just ask Lee, he hates it when I do this because he is asleep after all. Any way, here’s to hoping I can get the “chair nail” aka gel nail off my toes next week & to sweet dreams! In the meanwhile, I’ll be continued to be worried to death by Jack with his upcoming birthday this Friday. He called & ordered his own cake from Food Lion today after he told me to order a cake from the lady that usually makes the kids birthday cakes. He’s been waking early anticipating his big 18, calling people to remind him of his birthday, planning his Chuck E Cheese trip-every parents hell. The day that we have dreaded for years is nearly here. And who out there remembers this “Jem” (pun intended) from the 80’s, https://youtu.be/UtNPFSz9-5c? Now I watched this growing up, but I just now realized how stupid it really is! Although I’m grateful Jack is watching this instead of foolery, the bad part is he plays the theme song over & over again, I’m talking a hundred times or more! This could be one of the many reasons I’m not getting much sleep, this song is stuck in my head day & night.

Thank you all for reading my blogs, for your encouragement, kind words, & prayers, they mean the world to us all.

Grits, Funyuns, & the Popo

This is the wrong title for this blog, I didn’t title it as I wanted because I knew I would get ridiculed by some for doing so & I am too hot & tired for that. Some of our customers at The Berry Patch have tested my patience this season like no other & with this heat, I could seriously pop-off! I wanted to title it “Butthead Cycle”. I reported how well Jack has been doing in my last blog, but I did say there were times of slippage. For the last few weeks, Jack has been a butthead-plain & simple. I’m sure some of you are saying how can you call your child that, the same way you call your husband, girlfriend, wife, whatever that! Yes, he’s my flesh & blood, but he can be a butthead, too often for anyone’s liking. I could go the kinder route with a term coined by my Daddy, “illbox”. I find that term too comical to describe the irritability Jack has had the last few weeks. My Daddy was the lone man in a house of three females, he’d call us all that at times & it would tickle me so. Say the work “illbox”, it’s so funny. Of course, he said it tongue & cheek, there was no ill (pun intended) intent behind it. I’ve touched on Jack possibly having bipolar disorder before, I try to remind myself when he’s in this cycle, that this is part of his disorder(s).

This time last year, Jack was on a McDonald’s kick, only ingesting Big Macs. Thank goodness that has diminished, our local McDonald’s is the slowest place around, my car is thanking Jack for that also. He’s been through a Chiba phase-the place where I’m pretty sure the guy that works the drive-thru thinks I am madly in love with him due to my frequent visits. The frozen egg roll only phase, sausage biscuit phase, now, he’s on the grits & Funyuns kick. This is absolutely all that has touched his lips over the last few weeks-when he decides to eat. His eating is so infrequent, that he usually partakes in dining on these delicatessens once a day, twice if we’re lucky.

Back to the “butthead” phase….Jack is so irritable these days. If you ask him to repeat himself he screams it (he could get that from me, just ask Lee), if you don’t understand the sign language he is using to explain something, I get fussed at, if his drinks aren’t served to his Highness, there is hell to pay! Just a few days ago, Jack wanted grits. I happily fixed him two instant packs, served them to him & he ate them. He wanted more-terrific! I used the same bowl & spoon to prepare them. Jack had dropped his spoon on the floor prior to the second serving, but I washed it off. After serving him, he complained that the spoon had been dropped on the floor. I told him I washed it, to which he replied, “I don’t care”. After giving him a new spoon, Jack wanted to lick the alleged “dirty” spoon off (the one he didn’t want to eat his grits with) because it had grits on it. What kind of sense does this make? None! Sadly, this is the sort of thing we deal with on a daily basis with Jack. There are zero, none, null reasoning skills to be had. If he had an ounce of reasoning skills, our times with him would be much more enjoyable instead of walking on eggshells most of the time.

Last week, I took Ava & a friend to a nearby water park for the day. Of course while we were there trying to enjoy the day, Jack called the police to the house! I swear if we don’t get arrested, it will be a pure miracle…but could possibly be a vacation! He had changed his Facebook profile picture & name to someone else’s. I have no clue who this person was. His caregiver told him that was not nice or legal to do, he could get arrested for impersonating someone. While she was washing dishes, Jack called 911. It wasn’t until they knocked on the door did she realize what Jack had done. He called the police to fix his Facebook & perhaps confess on himself. Thankfully, the officer that came to the house was very understanding about the ordeal. It is so “Berry” hard to enjoy any time away from our home. Whether it may be at work, Walmart, a quick day trip, wherever, what Jack may do is a constant worry & struggle. Not only the police ordeal, I found out the day after we went to the water park that two people had been there the day after us & died from a brain eating amoeba they contracted from the very same water we were swimming in. Omg!

It takes me a good while to construct a blog because of work, my sad attempts at trying to have a social life which is only playing softball, mothering, & a little thing called sleep. Most of the time I get in a paragraph while Pokémon hunting with Jack. This particular blog has been in the works for over a week now. Today, we had an event with Jack as his caregiver was coming on her shift. He got upset with her because she was trying to teach him a lesson about jumping on my back, the potential to become violent was there because she got onto him for acting like a child. After I left for work, Jack started calling my Mama saying that his caregiver was sick, which was a total lie. Jack just didn’t want to be around her. This threw a ringer in my day. My intentions were to work at The Berry Patch & prepare for the busyness of the weekend. I had to come home to intervene what he was cooking up. Not because his caregiver couldn’t handle it, but to ease my nerves which get tore slam up when Jack gets like this. I will do whatever it takes to prevent him from fighting ever again. He is like the Incredible Hulk on steroids when he is violent. Instead of working, I spent the afternoon hunting for Pokémon’s in the next town over & at GameStop. I was trying to diffuse the situation with his caregiver & keep his mind preoccupied on other things. While parked on the side of the road in a parking spot, my Yukon was side-swiped by another Yukon. Luckily, it only hit my side mirror & no damage was caused. How could I get that lucky, I never am. After being out for several hours, we returned home & all seems to be okay…for now.

While we were parked, we were listening to Sirius XM the Garth Brooks channel & Garth was talking about the time he got a spanking from his Daddy for drawing a face on Johnny Hortons album. They then played Johnny’s song, “North to Alaska” which Jack knew every word. I find him so amazing, complex, difficult, funny, hard-headed, & at times very caring. What an anomaly he is!

Is all of this buttheadedness a result of an upcoming seizure, a bipolar cycle, or perhaps because he will be turning 18 in a few days? Only time will tell. The age Jack is turning is of upmost concern for us. This is the age he has waited the last few years for like most teens. 18 means you are officially deemed an adult. In Jack’s case, we are going to have to file for legal guardianship so that we can still have a say in the decisions he tries to make. The day he turns 18, I will be at the courthouse turning the paperwork in that states Jack is not capable of making decisions on his own behalf. Why can’t we just have a cake & ice cream like everyone else!

On the lighter side, I told Jack I was going to open a restaurant called Just Grits & make him work there. His response was, “but I don’t know how to cook grits”. He was dead serious, such a cute thing to say though. For now, I am thanking the Lord for instant grits because traditional grits are a pure pain to make & cleanup & for Jack falling out of the Chiba drive-thru phase so the guy working the drive-thru doesn’t think I’m a crazed, fried rice stalker. Funyuns & grits, I can do!

Jack’s shoes

Jack has had the same pair of shoes for the last three years. Why is this significant? Because most of us have multiple pairs of shoes, I myself have upwards of 40 pairs (shhh, don’t tell my husband). Jack only has one pair of shoes. Let that sink in. We are a nation of want. We have too much, want for too much. But owning just one pair of shoes, that’s hard for many of us to comprehend. I love shoes, most women do. I love different shoes from cheap flip flops, to Vans, to Frye boots (which I have yet to purchase). Shoes allow me to add something different to my outfit inexpensively. And if I can’t find something to wear when I’m out shopping because I’m not in shape enough for an outfit, a pair of shoes is a sure thing. I buy shoes anywhere from Dollar General, to the south’s best shop for southern women, Belk, to even hospital gift shops. The fact that Jack has only one pair of shoes is sort of heartbreaking. If he were a typical teenage fella, he’d probably have at least 7 pairs of shoes. There would be church shoes, flip flops, Crocs, tennis shoes, boots, etc. Given the fact that Jack doesn’t get out a whole lot, his foot problems, & the specifications he needs, only one pair is needed. The shoes must be without ties, although he wants lace-up shoes, he can’t physically deal with that & trying to get a lace-up shoe on him is like trying to hogtie an animal. He won’t help at all. He’s too busy trying to get up while you’re trying to get him in shoes. He doesn’t like Velcro shoes, nor can he function in flip flops or Crocs. He walks out of them and/or trips constantly while wearing them.

Back three years ago when I bought his only pair of shoes, Jack was way more mobile than he is now. I purchased his shoes for a specific purpose, to provide support for his unbalanced gait, his ankles that are rolling in, & his really high arches. I purchased Vionic Shoes for his foot issues. All of the problems I listed above are a direct result of Dravet Syndrome. Dravet is not just about seizures & behavior as I have blogged about in the past, it involves the total body from head to literally toe. I know what you’re thinking, his foot hasn’t grown in three years? No, it hasn’t. He wears a size 9 shoe & has the narrowest little foot ever. I call it a fish fillet foot, he got that from my Mama!

Amazingly, Jack has been doing really great with seizure control (knock on wood) & the worrisome behavior issues that were once terrorizing our family has subsided (again, knock on wood). It’s time for a new pair of shoes & this makes me happy as can be. His shoes finally look like they have been worn! His Vionic shoes have served their purpose. They provided the support he needed for three years. It took three years for him wear out a pair of shoes! There were times last year, when Jack wouldn’t get out of the house for months. A pair of shoes wouldn’t touch his feet for 60+ days. That was such a dark period in our lives. I am still taunted by those days. Every time I go to the bathroom, I make sure the door is locked, even when he is asleep. The violence & torturous behavior that we had to deal with is still in the back of my mind. Once you’ve been victimized, you never get over it. Noises that were once not a thought are now alarming. Sudden movements from the person that had the behavior issues put you on defense. Now, I have friends telling me they saw Jack at Walmart the other day & how he talked to them & was being so well behaved. This is such a joy to our hearts. To go from absolute misery to joyfulness is amazing. I can’t say there aren’t moments of bad behavior or slippage with inappropriate sites online, but I can say we fill lighter mentally & physically. Jack goes to his caregivers house several days a week & engages with her grandkids. He goes to Ellerbe’s finest mall, the DG & FD. He’s everywhere nowadays! What a blessing we have received with better behavior, sleep, & overall happiness. Now, Jack needs a new pair of shoes, thank you, Lord! Vionic, you have a repeat customer!

P.S.

This blog post reminds me of the Christmas song, The Christmas Shoes. 😌🌲👞

Mama said…

All Mama’s have wisdom she bestows to her children like, make sure you have clean underwear on in case you’re in an accident. I never fooled with telling my kids this, because how dirty can their undies be??? My tip for accidents is, make sure your legs are shaved. Or, nap when the baby naps. My personal favorite that my Mama always said, a person that says they aren’t hungry, will eat you out of house & home. Over the years, I have made a little booklet of personal wisdom tips/life lessons for our children. I keep a running notebook of these tips on my dresser so when I think of one, I can jot it down. The tips range from cooking, to men, women, friends, strangers, & so much more. I have highlighted the most important ones (in my humble opinion). I think it’s a really good idea to do this for your children in case something ever happens to you, they will know your values.

Pictured below is my Mama’s hand. She’s getting onto Ava & Jack during a beach trip. This is a perfect “Mama Said” picture!

The list is called “Mama’s Do’s & Don’t’s”.

1. Never trust a man with long fingernails. This is the first rule I taught our children. If you’re a man & reading this & have long nails, cut them-it’s creepy.

8. Playing sports is some of the best times of your life. Play when you’re grown if you’re able.

10. Carry scissors in your car at all times. You never know what they may come in handy for. I’ve used mine countless times, especially when riding down the road & I can’t get a pack of tater chips open!

11. And carry a pair in your purse.

14. Always send handwritten thank you notes for gifts, surprise food drop-ins, & nice gestures.

19. Do not buy any food items (includes candy) that is not made or grown in the United States.

24. Change toothbrush on the first day of each new season. It’s easy to remember this day & is the perfect three month cycle as recommended by the American Dental Association.

30. If what you’re eating or drinking isn’t absolutely delicious, don’t eat it-not worth the calories.

31. Do not trust other people’s turn signals. Some forget they have them on & some put them on to make you wreck into them.

36. Floss everyday & Waterpik, too.

39. Stay away from people that have torn up blinds in their house.

40. Do not heat food in plastic containers or plastic bags.

49. Never use a wire brush to clean a grill. The bristles can come off, get on your food, & cause serious intestinal damage.

51. Eye cream is your friend! I’ve used it since I was a teen & don’t have crows feet…yet.

52. Always be kind & generous to others, say thank you & open doors for others.

53. Offer to help the elderly or disabled load their groceries & return their buggy for them.

54. Sleep on your back, it helps to prevent wrinkles.

55. Read! It makes you smarter.

56. Ava, get your mammogram. It does not hurt at all. A piece of cake!

60. Check bathroom stalls before using public restrooms. Crazy people could be hiding in them.

67. A lot of this will be repeated, just deal with it as I am mildly crazy.

75. Alligators are everywhere, if one attacks you, punch it in the nose.

79. When you are in a scary situation or in fear, DO NOT be nice! That is the time to show out & act a fool-might save your life.

85. Never accept drinks from strangers.

86. When children tell you something is good & they want you to try it, that means it’s awful!

87. When making tacos or spaghetti, make sure you have a special spoon for those two items. If not, all your spoons will taste like tacos & spaghetti.

88. Never use a generator inside the house-you will die.

89. The key to success is to be yourself in every situation.

90. Teach your children as you have been taught to do life’s basics: pump gas, cook, wash clothes, write a check, iron, grocery shop.

91. Take vitamin K2, it helps prevent osteoporosis.

Many of the tips I have jotted down for our kids are private & I wish to keep them that way, but I feel these are instrumental for everyone. Whether our kids listen to “Mama’s Do’s & Don’t’s” is totally up to them, but Mama tried!

Men in Doorways

I have so many blog titles in my head that I would love to write about. I mainly don’t because I don’t have time, but also because I title my life almost daily based on some sort of foolery or weirdness that has occurred. I just love titles! This blog post is going to appeal to women ages 35 & up. It’s concerning men. Men get a bad rap. Some say (I may or may not “say”) men are too sloppy, don’t pay attention to details, don’t help in the kitchen, etc…Whether men do or do not do any of the above is a moot point. My question is, why do men stand in doorways? I haven’t always been privy to noticing such a phenomenon, I am certain it has occurred since doorways were invented. The reason I haven’t always noticed it, I was too young & blasé to care.

As I aged & my responsibilities changed, I began to notice it. For instance, I started helping out with showers for friends, meals at church, & family gatherings. Now I’m not saying this is always the case, however it is in my experiences that men don’t typically help do what they consider “women” things such as cooking & cleaning. Men like to talk as do women, but I’ve noticed in nearly every situation, men like to talk in doorways, more specifically, they like to talk in groups in the doorway of wherever women are working. I’m going to make a sign like the orange ones you see on the highway that says “women working, men, stay out of the doorway”! Could they not pick a more inconvenient place to hangout?

My church friends & I will be busy scurrying about setting up the buffet line for a meal, trying to go in & out of you guessed it, the doorway-no matter how many times we politely say excuse me which is followed by an eye roll & an under the breath “why don’t you move”, the men always find their way back to that doorway. It’s like it has some sort of gravitational pull. I think part of that pull is these “doorway standers”think if they are partly in the kitchen, they can imply to their wife they did something to help in the kitchen. The real reason probably has more to do with the fact that the doorway they are standing in is closer to the food & they want to be first in line.

Today at The Berry Patch in our gift shop, there was a group of three men lounging in the doorway. Summer Sunday’s are swamped at the big strawberry, so this is not the time to lounge around our doorway. They were standing in the way of all of the customers that wanted to come in the gift shop & the employees that were trying to stock produce. They were totally oblivious to anything we were doing & oblivious to the fact that they themselves were in our way. Some men (not all, just the ones I know), are oblivious to the annoyances womenfolk have for them. I know blogs can be written & have been written about how women spend too much money, have too many shoes, wear clothes & claim they’ve had it for years when in fact we just pulled it out of the trunk five minutes ago, but I’m not a man (sadly). If I were, I’d be sleeping right now, it’s 1am.

I’m pretty sure no one has ever written about the strange mystery of “doorway standers”. Pay attention next time you’re at a party or a church meal & see where the men linger-it ain’t the table like normal people, it ain’t the bathroom, it ain’t even in the kitchen. It’s smack dab in the way of everything women are trying to do. Can you imagine the conversations our Grandma’s once had? “Inez, did you see Clyde perched in that doorway running his mouth while we were trying to get the food setup? He would not move!” I may or may not of had this conversation with a few friends. Of course, this blog wasn’t meant to offend, only to get you to stop & think about men in doorways. I do find the men in doorways comical, I even married one! I’m sure Coleman won’t like that I shared a picture of him in a doorway, but it was the only picture I had of a man in a doorway. Let me know if you’ve ever experienced a man in a doorway!

The Bird Flu

Last week Coleman, Ava, & I drove across the country from North Carolina to Minnesota over 1,200 miles to move Coleman to the “dontcha know” state for the summer for his internship with an egg production company. Lee was originally supposed to take Coleman & that’s what we had planned on, up until about a week before departure. The reason Lee didn’t get to go was due to an almost fire at The Berry Patch. Lee was making ice cream & saw the power flicker & knew there was a problem. Upon investigation, he discovered there was a fire inside our electrical panel box. One of the many advantages of small town living is having the contact info for people that can help during a crisis. Lee quickly called a family friend who came out in a flash & addressed the issue, called in help to repair the problem-disaster avoided. Had Lee not been there at that very moment, things would have probably ended up differently, perhaps a large fire. It was at that very moment, that we realized me taking Coleman would better serve our family. There are too many things that can go wrong with our business alone & Lee is often the only one that can fix the issues. I like to call him Macgyver (young people, Macgyver was a man that could build a bomb out of coffee & Windex). I often tease Lee by saying I’m going to have that nickname inscribed on his tombstone.

Coleman got home from his study abroad trip from Norway & Sweden on Wednesday & we headed out Thursday morning for our trek. For the most part, our trip was uneventful which was completely shocking to us, I know it has to be for you also! I was more shocked to see that there are numerous Shoney’s still in existence in other parts of our fine land (their hot fudge brownie was always to die for) & a Cracker Barrel stands literally every 15 miles on the interstates. Taking two days to get to Coleman’s summer home-he’s living large, we saw some wonderful parts of America we’ve never seen, from lots of farm land, the rolling hills of Wisconsin, to miles & miles of windmills.

Upon arrival, we met Coleman’s roommate, did a quick tour of his apartment which is really nice, & went grocery shopping on my dime so he could to stock up his kitchen. I would love to see his place right now. I wonder just how clean it is or isn’t. We only took one car which was Coleman’s so he could have it for transportation while in Minnesota, meaning that Ava & myself would have to fly home. I went 43 years without flying, had intended on making it the rest of my life without spreading my wings, but when you make proclamations like “I’m never doing blah blah blah”, the universe has a way of saying “oh yes you are”! Flying & snakes have always been my worst fears…still are! I am really good at tamping down things I dread until the very last moment, I tried not to think about flying at all, that was until we got to the airport that morning. Coleman literally dropped Ava & I off at the door & gunned it! I had zero idea of what to do. I felt like The Clampet’s from The Beverly Hillbillies when they flew to England. Ava was my source of interpretation, reasoning, & mostly importantly, calm. I’ve heard horror stories from various people about their TSA experiences, but the one thing I was most worried about, was not having socks on while my shoes & body were being scanned. Now all I can worry about is contracting plantar warts! Worried that we would be pulled aside for something because we are The Berry’s after all, my first TSA experience was pleasant. Nothing was confiscated nor taken. That meant one thing in my mind, the plane was gonna crash! The Berry luck has to come in to play somewhere!

After lunch at some swanky pizzeria inside the airport, Ava & I headed to the boarding gate. This is when the moments of dread & second guessing our flight began. I was seriously considering a train ride home, but those accidents are always in the news. All was fairly calm until take off. If you’ve ever been to Disney & ridden the Tower of Terror, that’s what I compared a plane ride to. It was like that ride during take-off & landing. The flight was actually wonderful, smooth mostly, just terrifying for this big chicken. During take-off, I was crying like a baby. There I was facing my biggest fear without medication! Ava my source of reasoning & comfort patted my hand & wiped my tears. She was a champ & loved her first flight…that girl is going places, too. Once settled into the blue sky, here comes the drink cart & snacks. We were in the air for less than two hours, those were some eating people! All I could think about (other than crashing) was my Grandma saying she didn’t know why people had to eat all the time. If they had a meeting, they ate, if they had Sunday School, they ate, if it was the last day of school, they ate! It was then I wished I was a man. An older man was dead asleep during all that raucous. Wrappers being fooled with, cans opening, ice being put in cups, not to mention the noise of the plane itself-it was like being in an eternal vacuum. Men…they can sleep anywhere! Remember the picture of Lee falling asleep at an actual Keith Urban concert? All was well & wonderful with the flight, the hardest part was trying to find Mama when she came to pick us up at the airport.

I kept thinking when was the bad luck going to rear its ugly head? Were we going to get in a wreck on the way home? No, we made it home successfully also! It wasn’t until Sunday evening that that bad luck made its entrance, my throat started hurting. No big deal, but the next day it was my back, neck, & slight cough. The next day even worse, & the next-boom, full-blown sickness. Coughing my head off, severe sore throat, achy body, fever, some flesh eating bacteria inside my mouth (not really but feels like it) & fever blisters not only on my lip, but my chin! Ava has a mild version of it also. I knew our perfect luck was too good to be true. Someone on that plane gave me the bird flu as my Aunt referred to it. I’ve coughed so much I’ve lost my voice. Pictured below is what I did this morning to try to help rid this awful invasion on my body, I roasted garlic cloves & ate them. Now I love garlic & could eat roasted garlic all day, every day. This is also a result of people that don’t have health insurance which is so foolishly expensive if you are self employed, ours was finally up to $35,000 a year & we had to drop it. So sad!

And to top it all off, our Directv satellite signal has been lost yet again-please refer to my previous blog for more information about Dear Aunt Sue. I wish I had my Aunt Sue’s pistol!

All in all, it was a great trip. Jack was being taken care of by his caregiver, Mama, & Lee. Although I was extremely worried that he might get out-of-sorts without me home, he did exceptionally well. He never knew I was gone out of town, only thought I was working really long hours. This was intentional because as you’ve read in my other blogs, Jack can get stirred up. Jack has continued to do so well behaviorally, we have truly been amazed. There have not been any medication changes at all, so we know without a shadow of a doubt, that the positive changes we have seen in Jack are a result of prayer. Our prayers, your prayers were heard & we couldn’t be more grateful. Thank you to every single one of you that has lifted our family up & shared our story with your church or a friend so that they too could pray for our situation. Jack is back like his old self. Getting out several times a week with his caregiver, whereas for nearly two years, his outings were less than once every two months, sometimes longer. We have been blessed greatly by The Great One.

How exciting it is for us to see our children grow. For many years, Coleman had zero interaction with peers & would only communicate with close family members & now he’s many states away from us at only 19 years of age learning about so many different aspects of life. After I got home & was doing laundry, I washed Coleman’s towel & when Ava was putting the towels up that evening, I said, don’t hang Coleman’s towel up, he won’t be using it this summer. That was a sad sentence to use. He may not ever use it again in our house. He’ll be coming home from Minnesota straight back to State into an apartment there. There’s no telling what direction he’ll go in, I just hope we are there to enjoy the journeys even if it does mean more plane rides & the bird flu!