“He is adorable.”

Today I visited a friend of mine who works at my alma mater.

I found out last week that he has ALS and is moving away to live with his brother.

Today was his last day at work, so I packed up Bubbers and drove down to see him and say goodbye.

I hadn’t seen him in a couple years, but I figured he wouldn’t have changed much, since he hadn’t had ALS very long and he was still working.

As I was driving into the city, I reviewed what I knew of ALS (or Lou Gehrig’s disease).

In graduate school, I had written a paper on ALS. It’s a degenerative neurological disease that attacks the motor neurons of your body.

Basically, over time you lose all control of your muscles while your cognition remains active.

As a speech-language pathologist, I had observed people with ALS before. We help them learn alternative ways to communicate as they progressively lose their ability to talk.

These things were running through my mind as I parked next to the university.

Old feelings of being a student washed over me and I thought how strange it was that now I was changing my son’s diaper blow out in the front seat of my car instead of studying and waiting for my commuter bus home. Amazing how time changes everything…

Anyhow, I walked into my old department building and saw my friend.

I wasn’t prepared for how advanced his ALS was.

I hadn’t told him I was coming, because I wanted to surprise him. I introduced him to Bubbers and gave him a card.

His movements and facial expressions were very limited and he had to type on a special computer (we SLP’s call them AAC devices), because his speech was difficult to understand. Despite all of that, his positive, upbeat personality was still there.

He looked at Bubbers and then typed, “He is adorable.”

I smiled, “Thank you!”

We chatted for a little bit and then I said goodbye. There were other people waiting in the hall to say goodbye to him, too.

He reached out his arm and I gave him a hug.

I told him we loved him and would miss him.

“Thank you!” he said.

I walked out of his office, full of feelings I couldn’t identify.

As a clinician, I’d been surrounded by people with disabilities. But they were never people I knew personally beforehand.

Our relationships were professional. A small boundary was always present so I didn’t lose objectivity and my ability to provide appropriate therapy.

But this was different. He was my friend.

My friend.

Not someone else’s. Mine.

And he had ALS. And he was losing the ability to talk and walk and move.

But what did he choose to say to me during our short time together?

“He is adorable.”

Thank you, my friend.

Posted in Me

Cousins

One of my favorite things about our Thanksgiving trip to California was watching the Bubbers man with his cousins.

Since he’s only a baby, and all he can do is squeal and spit-up, I didn’t think the other kids would pay much attention to him, but boy was I wrong!

The first night we were there, Bubbers had trouble falling asleep with all the merry chaos that ensues whenever my huge family gets together, so we got him up to be with everyone.

Since his life is typically quiet and serene, the merry chaos was utterly fascinating to him.

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(Pay no attention to the man behind the baby).

Charming handed Bubbers off to my sister to hold, and I sat back and watched the magic unfold.

Within minutes, this little Reese Witherspoon look alike walked up to Bubbers in my sister’s arms and smiled.

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Holy smokes, what more could the Bubbers man want in life?

THEN Reese’s cute older sister came along (with baby brother in tow), sat next to Bubbers and asked with great interest, “Who’s he?

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Bubbers was surrounded the whole night by mothering females (with baby brother in tow) and I didn’t hear him complain once.

The next day, I figured the initial interest would wear off, but I was wrong again!

Reese’s cute older sister (with baby brother in tow) spent the whole weekend glued to Bubbers’ side .

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“Can I touch his face?” she’d ask me, reaching for Bubbers’ face.

“No,” I’d answer, redirecting her hand, “But you can touch his feet.”

“Can I hold him?” she’d ask me.

Dubiously, I shook my head and said, “Um, I don’t think you can hold two babies at the same time… But thanks for asking, you’re so sweet.”

(I tell you what, this girl is destined to be one fabulous mother of many, many babies!)

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When adorable females weren’t mothering him, Bubbers enjoyed hanging out with the baby brother (when he wasn’t in tow).

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I especially loved the two other babies there.

When Bubbers was asleep, I stole them and snuggled them close.

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Check out those incredible eyes! Boy, I thought Bubbers had large eyes until I saw this guy.

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And get a load of this darling little two-week-old man.

I can still feel his soft hair and precious little cuddle. Sigh.

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Before church on Sunday, another one of Reese’s cute older sisters (Reese has a lot of cute older sisters) showed Bubbers her puppy.

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Bubbers was sick and not going to church, so this was just the thing to lift his spirits.

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Bubbers, you are one lucky little man with some very awesome cousins!

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p.s. I also have to include a picture of my Mom cooking for our small army with her beautiful helpers.

Just the thought of cooking a Thanksgiving dinner for 24 people (which isn’t even all of us!) scares the bejeebers out of me.

Not only did she do it, she did it with grace, poise and mouth-watering skill. Thanks, Mom!

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A slice of heaven

When my Dad retired a few years ago, my parents decided to move to California and build their dream home in the mountains.

I was madly in love with our hometown in Nevada, so my little heart broke the day they moved and I cried myself to sleep on Charming’s shoulder.

While I’ll always miss Nevada, no one can deny the beauty of my parents’ new home.

We had a fantastic visit for Thanksgiving and I sure didn’t complain when I opened their front door and saw this.

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Here’s a closer look at this gorgeous, formidable volcano.

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Between delicious home-cooked meals from my Mom, we took a walk.

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Crisp, fresh air. Not a skyscraper in sight.

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Aww, hi there Little Man!

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Yes.

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I could definitely get used to this.

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For more pictures, click here to visit Heidi’s Studio.

What’s the skinny?…

… on babies sucking on paper?

I tried to search online “paper baby ink eating” to see what the experts say about 7-month-olds chomping on paper, but I didn’t find anything.

Bubbers just loves a handful of paper, so I hate to take it away from him if it doesn’t hurt him.

But when he gets one that smears ink all over, that just can’t be good for him, can it??

Thank you for your help!