Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

Sunday morning we did “family room church”. This has become the usual thing these days. My older son was not home so it was just the three of us. My younger son likes to sit in the middle and hold my cell phone while we are standing and praising God and while I am trying to read the lyrics to a hymn that I should really know by heart. It becomes increasingly difficult as the heat of the day begins to take effect on us and because my son’s natural posture is not one of quiet contemplation; he is moving back and forth and waving my phone around and giving me “the chicken wing “(picture the elbow rising out from his body in protest as if to say “you can’t have it, mom!” I decide to sway with him rather than fighting it (had I been 10 years younger, I would have swiped it away and offered a negative consequence..but as I have aged, I have absorbed other moms’ words of “pick your battles”…so I chose to sway. Too bad it wasn’t a Spiritual). Next week I may take the time to print out the words to the music and have peace on top of God-given peace.

I was blessed by having both of my sons home for Father’s Day this year and that it was hot enough for my husband ,who has heart failure, to get into the pool with the boys and actually lightly clown around for a while. I loved seeing my older son interacting with my younger one whom I previously blogged about. He is so gentle with him and yet entirely capable of providing the “roughhousing ” experience simultaneously . I loved watching the interaction: spinning on the floating donut, tipping it over gently with fair warning (“one..two..threeee!”) and the laughter and smiles that followed . I watched my unwell husband’s face light up a little…so intensely heartwarming for me ..so rare these days…but there is was: a little smile! He had made an effort to blow up the pool toys so that the boys could interact and have fun..and so that he himself could be a part of it. I watched him get in the water and tag onto what seemed like a water parade (yep, I joined in too, then my husband) and then all of a sudden the parade stopped (maybe we were getting a little tired?) and what followed was another extreme rarity: a real family hug! I didn’t want to let go..The sun was shining on us, and we were physically connected; it felt GREAT for a change. It made all the difference when big brother was home..just for dinner and a swim( his exam is coming soon) but also to give my husband the nicest Father’s Day card. Words of affirmation are his love language don’t you know! This card hit the bullseye, praise the Lord. Just what he needed. When the day was over and it was time for Christopher to leave (that’s big brother :)) , just like other families, we all managed to go out on the driveway and “wave him off” (as my recently departed British mother would have said). Later, Sunday evening ,when I was helping my younger son (he is called Timothy) with his shower and other self-care things like shaving, he tried in his own way to ask about following his brother: “Timothy goes to apartment”. I told him that I hope one day that he will have his own(shared living?) apartment. I hope that he may get to live in a wonderful group home someday. I think he missed his brother after he left. Hard to know for sure..but a mom can have an inkling.

After thought: you know you are getting older when you forget to give your husband the main gift that you sent away for, that he has been asking for (very indirectly ) and realize it on Monday morning! Insert palm slapping face emoji right about here.

Under Cover

‘Masquerade..paper faces on parade..hide your face and the world will never find you.” (approximate lyrics from the musical Phantom of the Opera)

I can remember sitting in a Broadway theatre, listening to the powerful yet painful interpretation of those words as the character of the phantom sang them. As a young woman in my 20’s, I was deeply, deeply troubled as I listened, knowing that he was hiding his damaged face ..his imperfections..to likely try and protect his lifelong, broken heart from further rejection and sorrow. In the story, he ultimately releases the young woman whom he desperately loves (Christine), finally aware that she could never love him in he visual brokenness.

Here we are now with COVID-19, similarly hiding our faces but purposely and proactively..a positive choice: to attempt to shield others as well as ourselves. Being homebound (except for shopping and working a handful of hours at the hospital ) has recently caused me to to step into my younger son’s shoes and examine disability (his) in a slightly different light(that I will talk about shortly).

People only view a small portion of my face after I intentionally don my mask before going in to public places, so to compensate I must use exaggerated gestures and deliberately pleasant tones in order to communicate my mood and attitude (eg as a shopper goes up the down aisle, engaging in subtraction of the 6 feet rule, and unaware of my creeping expressed facial anxiety, I pleasantly greet her ..this is known and “reaction formation” in the biz..as I wholeheartedly hasten aback several steps in the opposite direction ). But what about the one who wears a different sort of “mask” without opportunity (this side of Heaven) to remove it as I have (after flinging my eggs onto my car seat)? Even by the grace of our Lord, when the Coronavirus has eventually left us, my son will carry on , but STILL be distanced, ofter unseen/unheard ..and not by choice. He is “masked” by his God-given limitations..made in His image ,as we Christians profess, but too ofter passed by as in the story of The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37)..too much of a bother…inconvenient ..and worst of all, possessing a limited desire or no desire at all to approach and befriend. After all, what would the earthly reward be? Let someone else do it. Many may think,”thank God that’s not my child,” or “I don’t know how that mom copes,” or worse yet they may quietly and yet knowingly pity. Don’t pity me!

I wear my mask, I hide my expressions as a consequence of the covering. I have no choice in our current pandemic…signs are posted. I must do it, and as mentioned, use other ways to communicate.

Because of his disabilities, my son doesn’t have access to spontaneous gesture and changes in voice tone in whatever circumstances he might find himself. He might, like the phantom, sometimes feel that others choose to look away ..away from his very different, yet God-chosen, face and disability.

The wearing of my N95 at the hospital has made me ponder what it must be like for him when he is in someone’s view with preconceived ideas and limited understanding ( by default, unfortunately). Because of the “mask” of disability, where he unintentionally and unknowingly hides, he will never drive a car, have a girlfriend or marry like his peers..and he won’t understand why…

Hide your face so the world will never find you.

Meanwhile, WE wait in our face coverings, hoping to get the all-clear message..it’s safe- to -come- out- now message and to go back to “normal” .

My son waits (unbeknownst to him) for Christ’s return…for restoration..for Him to lovingly lift away his “mask” and welcome him with both gifts of salvation (yes, he has accepted Jesus!) and sameness with others..in Glory.

I cannot wait for that joyful, joyful day!

(2 Corinthians 5:17)