Princess Gail first caught my eye 7 years ago because of the sultry way she moves. She oozes a natural confidence and sexiness that both men and women notice. She has her own unique “Gail style” and always looks beautiful, dressed just right for the occasion. But I gave her a second, third and infinity looks for other reasons. She is a realist. No games, no bullshit, either dished out or tolerated. She’s practical. She’s independent. And for 18 years she had been an indescribably amazing single mother to a very difficult autistic child. Because of that, she had been ostracized by many people, including family, who could not tolerate his presence. So she had learned to do for herself. I love it that Gail can fix cars, paint, do drywall, finish furniture, work power tools, etc, etc etc. There’s nothing she can’t figure out. And, she likes to ride bikes and to golf! I found all of that, and so much more, very appealing. And she somehow acquired a taste for me. So we had Elvis marry us in Las Vegas 4 years ago March 10.
So what do you get your special Princess for an anniversary present? It had to be suitably romantic, right? I knew just the perfect thing! See, I had been listening to her babblings. I had been watching her every crazy move. I observed with interest as she gathered materials for her never ending projects. I just knew she needed a new drill!
Now hear me out. She had purchased her old drill 10 years ago, on clearance at Meijer’s for $20 (“Originally $80,” I’ve heard her say more than once.) It’s a big old clunky thing and the battery doesn’t hold a charge for more than a few minutes. She has two or three partial drill bit sets that she probably got at garage sales. So I knew she needed one. Further, if she were to buy a replacement, it would be another inexpensive generic model that she waited months for to go on sale. But that’s not how I roll. When I get her stuff, I get the Cadillac. So I figured I’d get a Cadillac drill, a small and sexy DeWalt 12 volt hand drill:
I just knew she would like the new quick mount for 1/4 inch bits, and the 3 LED lights that illuminate the target, and the small size to fit her small hand. And I wanted her to have a brand new drill bit set, along with Phillips and flat-head screw bits of all sizes. I could just picture her high-pitched squeal of delight as she ripped open the box! So I gave it to her tonight.
Guess what? I was totally right! Ha! She flat out loved it! I told her she wasn’t allowed to ask how much it cost and that she wasn’t allowed to take it back for another (less expensive) model. She couldn’t stop saying thank you, and I could tell she was being sincere. How can I tell, you ask? I am just a man after all. Well, she said something about getting drilled tonight! 🙂
ASICS. My favorite running shoe, and Princess Gail knows it. She also knows my size in all sorts of different shoes, eg Asics runs a full size smaller. So today she is out and about and noticed Asics were on a super sale at Kohl’s. She bought me the very best ones, MRP $84.99, on sale for $54.99. But she knew she also had a 20% off coupon, bringing the price down to $43.99!
Princess Gail was thinking of me, and that is wonderful, and for some reason humbling. She doesn’t have to do these little things for me, but she does and I really, really appreciate it. And I equally love the fact that she is very careful with purchases and our finances. She NEVER buys anything full price! She is an awesome shopper!
We value our health and we love to exercise. So things like new running shoes are a cool treat! We don’t mind investing in our good health. ASICS. Anima sana in corpore sano. Healthy mind in healthy body.
I am grateful for a great many blessings in my life. If I were to break them down to the little things that happen every day, they would be too numerous to count. Looking at my blessings in terms of broad categories over the course of my life, I would say that having helped raise four healthy, well-adjusted, productive children is the highlight of my life. They are the main reason I was put on this earth, and they provide me with endless reasons for which to be grateful!
Today, I am expressing a special gratitude for Princess Gail. I have learned that nothing much in life is meaningful unless there is someone to share it with. Life is meant to be lived and appreciated together with another. I am grateful that Gail and I share common values and interests, and that we appreciate them every day. We are old enough to know that life is short, and that there are many things that could unexpectedly derail our happiness, so we don’t take much for granted. I am grateful, too, for our differences, and that we give each other the time and the support to follow our unique paths.
So, I’m hugely grateful for Princess Gail! I can think of no better companion on this great road trip of life!
I was on my way home from NC yesterday, so Gail was home alone with Eric during his most recent autistic melt down. (Picture Macaulay Culkin from the movie “Home Alone,” with his hands on his cheeks with an “oh no!” look on his face.)
Eric had become very upset, but it was not exactly clear as to why. Gail couldn’t get him to either calm down or to explain why he felt that way. She couldn’t diffuse the escalation.
She figured this could have been happening for a number of reasons. Eric wanted to go to the mall and was told he could not. (He had nothing to do at the mall, other than to get more agitated and into trouble. Gail knows better than to take that risk on by herself at those times.) The TV was turned off because Eric’s favorite driver was losing the NASCAR race, and this was increasing his agitation. He was caught sneaking into things, and he hates being caught. He will not be able to see his father next weekend as he will be in NC with Gail and me that week. All this, and/or who knows what else, could have been a reason for his fit.
So he was starting to get in Gail’s face. By that I mean with clenched fists, inches from her face, no matter where Gail turned. He would stop her from doing whatever she was trying to do, blocking her way with what most people would interpret as a very threatening face and pose. He was staring at her and pounding the walls and cabinets with his fists. He was in a rage, yelling a cussing. He then started throwing things all over the house, knocking down chairs, and such. In the past, violence has gotten much worse.
Fortunately, Gail was able to break through by threatening to cancel Eric’s visit with his father today. Eric loves the occasional time he spends with his father. So he voluntarily went up to his room, and gradually the pounding, yelling, cussing, and agitation settled.
This is all very disturbing for Gail, too. She has been through it hundreds of times, but they each take their toll. Gail tries very hard to provide a structured environment for Eric, and to provide verbal and visual cues for him, to maintain some measure of sanity. We have a PECS system on the refrigerator that Eric looks at all the time to know what he is to do next. He would be lost without the help and direction he gets from Gail, and from his school and program staff. Eric is very disabled by his condition, and it is a valid excuse, but it doesn’t take away the horrible toll it takes on my wife.
So today, Gail again proved her Princesshood to me. Even though she was pissed, even though she was hurt to the point of tears for the thanks she gets (“you fucking bitch!!”) for all she does for her son, even though she is tired, really tired of all this endless shit, she helped him figure it out.
She presented him with a series of typewritten questions, because he can see them better than he can hear them. Also, she had to entice him into cooperating with chocolate chip cookies (which works for me, too!) She asked him to circle the right answers.
Why I was mad and angry
1) My favorite driver is Tony Stewart and he was not winning.
2) I wanted to go to the mall to buy a toy and my Mom did not want to take me there.
3) I thought I was grounded for having a fit.
4) I did not get to watch the rest of the race because I was having a fit.
5) I snuck into my Mom’s bathroom, closet and pantry and she caught me.
6) I like to get mad and have a fit.
7) I want to go to my Dad’s next weekend but I will be in North Carolina.
Eric circled numbers 2 and 7. He got a cookie. Gail continued with another typewritten sheet:
What does a fit get me
1) I think that my Mom will change her mind.
2) I want to scare my Mom.
3) I want to hurt my Mom.
4) I like being angry, throw things, call my Mom bad names, cuss.
5) I am angry with myself and I want to be grounded.
Eric did not circle any of these. He got another cookie. And then another typewritten page, this time with some insights:
1) Tony Stewart cannot win every race.
2) My Mom did not want to go to the mall with me. It is very hard for her to wach me to keep out of trouble. I get into things, I do not listen to her, I stare at girls.
3) Toys are meant for children or kids who are young and small. My Mom is not comfortable with me buying toys because I am an adult.
4) When I am angry, my Mom likes me to go to my room. When I am in my room, I cannot break things and cannot hurt her. I am safe and Mom is safe.
5) I cannot watch TV always when I want and what I want. I lost that privilege when I ordered the inappropriate movies. My Mom had to pay for them.
6) Sometimes I cannot go to my Dad’s when he wants because I already have something on my schedule on that day.
I’m sure you noticed this is written in the first person. Eric understands it much better that way. Gail will sometimes also address him in the third person. For example, she might say to him, “Eric knows what he is supposed to do.” Don’t ask me why, but he seems to respond to that.
And finally, after another cookie for his cooperation with all this, he got the last typewritten sheet:
What can I do when I am angry
1) Figure out why I am angry
2) Talk about it with my Mom and my Mom will help me
3) Do something to calm myself.
He circled 2 and 3. She asked him to write down a few things he could do to calm himself. In his chicken scratch, he scribbled:
Chair (the massage chair we have for this very purpose)
I’m talking about my learning. I’m not at all certain Eric has the mental machinery to retain this information or to behave better next time. But there is a lot of wisdom here I can use for myself.