Hope: to cherish a desire with anticipation: to want something to happen or be true

This week V turns 22. It’s hard to believe he is so old. Birthdays are a blessing and cause for celebration. I embrace the unique person V is with love and acceptance. That’s when I’m skillful enough to stay in the present.  As he gets older and enters further into adulthood, the joy mixes with anxiety and fear as well as hope about the future.  What’s next?

The agency that runs the respite house where he has stayed several times, most recently during my dad’s funeral, is opening a new group home which V is being invited to join.  There are a few more hoops to jump through though. 

First, we have a meeting scheduled next week where we get to meet the other prospective residents and their families, which rarely happens. (Usually new residents are just placed in a home where there is an opening without this opportunity.)  These are people he potentially will live with for years to come so I really hope that everyone seems compatible. 

We also are waiting to see if he can continue at his school through June graduation and then attend the new adult day program affiliated with the school, if he is admitted there. He has a trial half day coming up later this month. I am on the board of this adult program, started by a group of parents from his school, but that’s no guarantee he’ll succeed there; most of the current participants have far better social and verbal abilities than V. Yet we’ve seen in past circumstances, like in a social skills group he was in for several years, that he can rise to the level of other participants. I hope it all works out.  

To V a birthday doesn’t mean much. We go out to eat or have a dinner at home followed with a cake with candles he can blow out as we sing happy birthday. We teach him the new answer to “How old are you?” It sometimes takes him a while to give the correct response. He has little awareness of how his life will be changing, although staying in the respite house has given him a flavor of how it will be when he doesn’t live at home. As emotionally immature as V is, he also seems ready for the change. He’s easily gone there, with no trepidation. I see that as a good sign.  

Still, I worry a lot about what life will be like for him and how his potential new home will handle difficult times, like this past weekend when we had such frigid weather that even the most intrepid walkers like us were stuck inside. What will they do with him all day? Will they at least try to engage him with indoor activities? Will they take him out for a drive or to the store like we do just to get him out of the house?  How will they handle the pacing that replaces the walks he yearns for? The honest truth is we are often inattentive or just plain worn out at the end of a twelve hour day inside. But we still let him know that we are right there with him, understanding his frustration.

They will hopefully be more energetic at his new home but will they be empathic? They, meaning the direct service staff, is a big issue.  Aides are not paid enough; this is not highly desirable work. The aides at the respite house have seemed caring but there’s no way of guaranteeing V will get the attention he needs beyond making sure that he’s bathed and fed and his basic necessities are tended to. 

The biggest and most significant unknown in the future though is will he be loved? I believe V can be well cared for but will those caregivers love him like we do? With all his challenges we still find him so lovable, will others too? That’s my hope and daily prayer. I want him to be in an environment where he is treated with loving kindness, a place where he can thrive.

We’ll just have to wait and see about the future, doing all we can to find V a home and services that enable him to flourish and continue to be a generally happy content guy.  For now we say Happy 22nd Birthday. I hope it’s a good year.

7 thoughts on “22

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