My brothers and I negotiated a date and a place for an Arland Family Reunion, so I figured it was safe to inform my older son Colin about “the plan.” A week later, as the two of us walked along the
Mississippi River on a Saturday night, Colin laid out the road map in his head for the trip to northern Minne – sota — still six months away. Like GPS, he had fixed the journey’s details into the memory bank of his autistic mind. I smiled. It was Colin’s way of telling me, “Mom, this trip is really important to me.”
Every weekend since then Colin asked each member of our family, “Are we going to northern Minnesota on Aug. 9 through the 12th? What time will you pick me up?” It became a litany. When he called by phone he repeated his questions to me, his dad and his brother even if we were in the same room on speaker phone!
We assured Colin with affirmative (but not always patient) responses. As the reunion date drew closer, Colin’s anxiety heightened, more so because my husband Steve developed disabling back pain. Colin wanted to know what time we would pick him up and whether we would have dinner on the road. When we introduced the possibility that Steve might not be able to make the trip, Colin moved into panic mode. I received an email from his supervisor at the day habilitation program he participates in and enjoys. Things were not going well that day and he would have to stay home at his apartment the next day.
I consulted with Steve, nailed down an Estimated Time of Departure and called Colin. “We’re going to pick you up at 5 p.m. on Aug. 9 and Dad will be with us.” Colin was elated, but transformed my statement into a question to gain a double reassurance from me. He got it.
A week later, “the plan” appeared to be in trouble, once again. Steve had a volunteer commitment for a fundraising drive and couldn’t find someone to take his place. He would have to stay behind. He called Colin to share the disappointing news. Trying to soften the blow, Steve asked Colin if he would like to stay in Iowa and help his dad. Colin had this trip hardwired in his brain. No, he did not want to stay behind. He said he would go to Minnesota with Mom and his brother Patrick to see Grandpa Ray, Grandma Mary, etc., etc.
Colin began asking daily whether Steve would accompany us to Minnesota, even though he knew the answer. I said, “If you want Dad to join us on this trip, you’re going to have to pray really hard.” I am fully aware that God isn’t a dispenser who churns out wishes. But last week, just four days before we were to leave, our prayers were answered when a selfless person stepped forward to help Steve.
Colin told me he prays every night before bed. He said he does “10” (which means a decade of the rosary) and has been asking God in a special intention “for Dad to get better.” That follows “the closing statement, ‘In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.’”
I’ve always wondered whether Colin had a special pipeline to God. His love for God is so pure and trusting. I am giving thanks for the family reunion and for a wondrous answer to Colin’s prayer.
(Barb Arland-Fye, Editor, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)