I always miss my maternal grandmother when I am preparing things she taught me to make or enjoying being a step-grandma to my husband’s grandchildren. It is intensified today because in addition to having just made the yeast rolls she taught me to make when I was so small she had to have Grandpa find me just the right stool to stand on, I have been writing about her in the past few days. In writing about Grandma the question runs through my head how would Grandma react to Billy Ray?
Grandma was in a nursing home in her small Idaho town at the time we adopted Billy Ray. He was about two when we were able to take him to visit her. He danced to music playing in the gathering room of the nursing home. The residents including my grandmother thoroughly enjoyed that. Grandma commented that he was full of life. That was the only time she saw him.
At 23 years old he is still full of life but in a different way. Now that might mean hyperactivity, throwing himself on the floor in confusion or anger, punching his Mom or support staff and even knocking over furniture. Would Grandma accept the Billy Ray he is today, I wondered.
The answer came in a strange way on Billy Ray’s birthday. We had invited the niece of our support staff to join us for his birthday lunch. Ron was sitting between Billy Ray and his niece. Quietly observing the higher degree of patience he exhibited with my complex son than with clearly bright niece, I saw myself in his responses.
Comments from people about what a saint or how patient I must be to take care of Billy Ray used to make me angry. Now I have come to see that my tolerance for Billy Ray’s problems is far greater than it is with “normal” kids. Acceptance of what would be misbehavior on the part of a normal child comes easier when it is Billy Ray. Sometimes I shock folks who are trying to compliment my patience with my son by telling them I am no more patient than they are just different. I would not have the same patience with their children that I do with my son. Some people could handle teenage rebellion better and some could handle special needs children best.
So back to Grandma. I wrote the other night that Grandma and I were a lot more alike than my mom and I. Grandma had 13 kids and lots of grandchildren. I remember her yelling at some of the kids. I can’t ever remember Grandma yelling at me. As a child I had some emotional issues of my own and was very needy. Grandma understood me and loved me unconditionally more than any person in my entire life.
She would have accepted Billy Ray as he is. Why did I even ponder that for a moment?
Peggy Lou Morgan