Thursday, July 18, 2013

Adventure Time

"Are you looking for a boy?"

Those words were sweet relief.  I'd only been looking for a couple of minutes, but every moment since we realized Ben was missing had been filled with adrenaline.

I had been finishing dinner, Bubba was playing a game, and Lovely Wife was upstairs getting ready for the opening reception of the Utah state bar convention.  I thought Ben was headed up to pester his mom, but instead, he squeezed passed the obstacles I'd placed in the hall and slipped quietly out the front door with his truck.

The part of my brain that monitors such things was expecting to hear some exclamations from my wife - something like "No!  Put the make-up down!"  It informed the rest of my brain that it was time to put the pizza down.

"Bubba - see if you can find Ben - quick!"  He hopped up and dashed upstairs, returning quickly after searching all three levels of the condo.  "He's not here!"  Without prompting, he rushed outside to look for his little brother.  I grabbed my phone and went to join him.  He went uphill and I went down.

It was not long before the possible directions Ben had gone branched into something that would require a team of searchers, so when the nicely dressed woman said, "Are you looking for a boy?", I was very, very happy.

Ben had wandered into a reception, outdoors under a canopy.  I loped up the stairs I'd just gone down and burst into the reception, barefoot and clad in t-shirt and shorts.  The party-goers were well-dressed and slightly intoxicated.

 One gentleman pointed across the tent and said, "He went that away!"  I strode through and found Ben, who seemed happy to see me.  I scooped him up and we marched back through the party.  The bartender said, "He was the life of the party!"

Her name is "Rio"
This was our third evening in Snowmass, Colorado.  We're staying in a condo that's kind of like a 3-story shotgun shack.  It's sort of a monument to the 80's, but I liked the 80's pretty well.  They were almost as good as the 90's.

...cue dream sequence...

Yesterday morning, about 3:30, I was riding motorcycles through an airport with my friend, David.  We were trying to get to baggage claim.  I can never read in my dreams, so I couldn't follow the signs.  Also, my motorcycle seemed to be stuck on full throttle.  The escalators were exciting.

I plowed into a neatly stacked pile of luggage (who does that?) just in time to see Ben go through a door on the baggage conveyor.  I woke with a start.

My first thought was "What was that noise?  Is Ben up?"  I grabbed some clothes off the floor and headed downstairs.  Ben's door was shut, so I headed to the first floor and checked the door - still bolted.  The sliding door to the deck was still locked too.  Ben couldn't lock either behind himself, so I knew he was still inside.

I wouldn't be able to go back to sleep upstairs, so I drowsed on the couch until Ben woke up at 6:00.

Aspen child trap...good thing we bring spare clothes everywhere.
Yesterday, I picked up some twine and some delicious New Belgium ale in bottles.  Last night, after putting Ben to bed, I tied the twine to his doorknob and ran it up and into our bedroom.  I tied the other end to an empty bottle and put it in the marble fireplace hearth so it would tip over when Ben opened his door.

It worked like a charm - I got a good night's sleep and the bottle tipped at 5 o'clock.  Beer bottle clattering on marble was not the most pleasant way to wake up, but the sleep before it was deep and refreshing. 

For information on autism and wandering, visit AWAARE.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Imagining Arlie

I'm not a genealogy buff, but occasionally we wind up with a class project that sends me poking into the past and I find it very interesting.  Here's something that happened 91 years ago today, on July 11, 1922.

From the Camden Chronicle:

Arlie Gordon Chester of Eva was drowned while bathing at Oatsvall Landing on the Tennessee River about 1 o'clock Saturday afternoon.  The young man had been working in the vicinity of the landing and had gone to the river to take a gasoline boat home. Hubbs Barker, Eulis Walker and some other boys were in bathing, and young Chester told that he wanted to go in. As he could not swim, we understand the other boys told him not to do so, but he did and soon got into deep water. One of the boys endeavored to save him, but as he was without clothing he could not hold him and was forced to break loose from him to save himself. Young Chester was the son of P.C. and Emma Chester and a nephew of Ben Holland of Eva. He was past 21 years of age and was a quiet, nice boy, unassuming and industrious. His body was recovered at 9 a.m. Sunday morning and was given burial at Chalk Hill Sunday afternoon.

Pop Chester on the left, Arlie in the middle
Arlie was my grandfather's brother.  Nobody's around today who knew him, but we know from family lore that he had a learning disability of some kind.  There are lots of ways to be disabled, but since a good chunk of autism is genetic, maybe he was on the autism spectrum.

They wouldn't have called it that, of course.  The word "autism" wasn't to be used in it's modern sense for another 16 years after Arlie's death, when Hans Asperger described his work in Vienna.  More likely, they would have just called him "tetched".

Whatever Arlie's condition was, I wonder what life was like for him back then.  I read somewhere that rural communities can accommodate autistic people better than urban ones in some ways.  It can be quiet, have little traffic, extended families tend to live together or nearby, and everybody knows one another, at least in passing.

conked out at 3:00 p.m.
Having just returned from a trip to visit my folks in rural Tennessee, I can believe it.  Both our boys found great joy in roaming up and down the creek, skipping stones, and catching fireflies, crawdads, frogs, and moths.  We went on some seriously good walkabouts and we all slept really well, which is rare for us.

critter catcher

Have a safe and happy summer!

And if you're a Utah family affected by autism, come to the Autism Community Summer Social and tell your public officials you'd like autism to be covered by insurance.  It's TODAY!