By Barb Arland-Fye
The second Tuesday of each month is a big deal in the Fye household; it’s bonding time for my husband Steve and our older son Colin. The Handicapped Development Center (HDC) holds staff in-service on that day, which means free time for Colin. Since Steve is retired, he agreed to “supervise” our 31-year-old son with autism on in-service days.
We tried, but failed, to remember when “Tuesday Time with Dad” began. “I think it was November,” Steve said. Colin corrected us. “It was Oct. 9th. We went to Galesburg (Ill.). We went railfanning,” he said. “Railfans” watch and take photographs of trains. Galesburg is a major railroad hub, which offers prime railfanning opportunities for Steve, a retired locomotive engineer, and Colin. “It was hot that day … it felt more like July,” Colin recalled. “We ate lunch at Hy-Vee and watched Amtrak.”
The precise details Colin provided are a good indication that he savors this bonding time with his dad. In November, “We went to Geneseo (Ill.) after we ordered my eye glasses. We ate lunch at McDonald’s,” Colin told me. Even though I had a hunch why they traveled to Geneseo, I asked anyway. Of course, the small town about 20 miles from our house has a model railroad shop!
In December, the “boys” stayed home. Steve decided to have Colin sign and send Christmas cards to close relatives in hopes that Colin would get some cards in his apartment mailbox. Colin loves to check his mailbox and is delighted to receive mail, even junk mail! One of my brothers called during the Christmas season to thank Colin for his thoughtful gesture. Our son loves talking to relatives, and gets excited about conversations with aunts, uncles and cousins he hasn’t seen in a while.
January’s Tuesday Time with Dad consisted of a trip to a cardiovascular center for an ultrasound for Colin, who has a heart murmur. Steve and the supervisor of Colin’s support services sat in the examination room during the procedure. The results produced good news. The murmur is not a problem.
February’s itinerary for Tuesday Time with Dad hasn’t been decided yet. The in-service days are “fun, a little challenging,” Steve says, because I have to get him back at 2 o’clock so we can’t go very far.”
The celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day this past Monday also provided a free day for Colin (who enjoys his days at HDC as well). Fishing for an opportunity for more bonding time with his dad, Colin mentioned that he had no support services that day. While he can be left alone for a day, he tends to be less productive with that much time to himself. He’s already worn out his six Star Wars DVDs and could probably recite every line of the series by heart.
“I like bonding with Dad because it’s a fun thing to do on an off day, an in-service,” Colin told me. In his apostolic exhortation “On the Call to Holiness in Today’s World,” Pope Francis said “this holiness to which the Lord calls you will grow through small gestures.”
Tuesday Time with Dad, in my mind, is a wonderful example.
(Editor Barb Arland-Fye can be reached at email@example.com.)