Tuesday, June 17, 2008

My Grandpa Dave and Taylor

My Grandpa Dave loved me. He was a farmer all his life. He loved being around kids. His laughter reminded me of Mr. Edwards on Little House on the Prairie... a laugh that came from the belly, or from the toes. He was a good grandpa, but had some ideas on how to raise kids... as he was from a different generation. He had fun just pittling around his farm and Taylor would not be far behind, when we would go up. He would follow him everywhere.

My grandpa and I got into a huge argument one time while he was at my home, trying to help me with my car that had broken down, something to do with a thermostat and the car would overheat. Well my grandpa took a break and was talking to the neighbor. The neighbor was just about my grandpa's age... so they struck up a conversation. At the time, we were told Taylor had ADHD and not autism. So... the neighbor started to tease Taylor, and he was teasing him for quite awhile. He was calling Taylor a skinny runt (which he was) and Taylor thought if it was time to be truthful, he would tell the man what he saw... Taylor told him he was an old man. My grandpa took that to be very disrespectful (and I wouldn't really want Taylor talking to people like that) but, what really upset me is that he grabbed Taylor by the hair, in the bang area. Like a mother hen, I flew out my door when I heard Taylor crying and there was just a big confrontation and I told my grandfather to leave my house. I was a single parent at the time and had nobody to really vent to.... so I called my grandma and told her he better call me when he got home. She did. He made a comment about he loved Taylor just like he loved the rest.... ( so was he saying that because he thought Taylor was bad, or because I had Taylor being a single parent, or because of his ethnicity???? ) I took offense to it and just really made me upset. I told him not to come back to my home until he apologized.

The call never came. I missed him and hated not seeing him. I mean, months had gone by, maybe nearly a year. I swallowed my pride and called him. He acted as if nothing ever happened. My heart was hurt, but I was so glad we were on speaking terms again.

Fast forward a few years. My grandfather got cancer. It was on his lip first, and then in his jaw and glands. It was awful to see my big, strong grandpa wither away. The last time I saw him, was at my wedding. He had just had a surgery. There was a drop or two of blood that got on his shirt. When we danced, he apologized for the blood. Are you kidding? He should not have been there, that is how sick he was... yet here he was at my wedding, dancing with me. I said my final good bye to my grandpa a few days after the wedding as we were leaving back to Iowa. Hardest day of my life probably. Knowing you will never see someone again... not until heaven.... a huge pill to swallow. It took me forever to leave. My heart hurt so bad. I didn't want to go. I just wanted to stay. We had to leave the next morning.

Fast forward a few more months. I would talk to my grandpa on the phone from Iowa. The cancer was so bad, I could not understand a single word he said. A couple of times I think he was crying from frustration. I would put my husband on the phone, and my daughter on the phone. None of us could understand him. We would say, oh really grandpa, or well that's nice.... it was really uncomfortable for all of us. I felt bad for him. Then Taylor got on the phone. This is the same little guy that had his hair pulled by Grandpa.... he didn't care. He talked to Grandpa about baseball and fireflies and going to the farm in the Amish community. He carried on conversations with him for 20 to 30 minutes at a time. It was so wonderful to see my son with a disability and my dying grandpa have these long talks. I believe that God did that for Taylor, and God did that for Grandpa. My heart still fills with so much emotion when I think of it.

As for now, I think of Grandpa often. Now, I walk Relay for life, and each year I make out a sack for him. This year, I got a picture of the sack... Grandpa, this is for you, but this is also from a little boy who loved you, even if we didn't see eye to eye.

My grandpa on our last visit before I had to go home, apologized for the hurtful things he said about Taylor. He told me how much he loved him, and he knew he had made mistakes. My heart melted.

Autism Tip of the day and Asperger's Syndrome copied from Autism.org


  • lucid speech before age 4 years; grammar and vocabulary are usually very good
  • speech is sometimes stilted and repetitive
  • voice tends to be flat and emotionless
  • conversations revolve around self


  • obsessed with complex topics, such as patterns, weather, music, history, etc.
  • often described as eccentric
  • I.Q.'s fall along the full spectrum, but many are in the above normal range in verbal ability and in the below average range in performance abilities.
  • many have dyslexia, writing problems, and difficulty with mathematics
  • lack common sense
  • concrete thinking (versus abstract)


  • movements tend to be clumsy and awkward
  • odd forms of self-stimulatory behavior
  • sensory problems appear not to be as dramatic as those with other forms of autism
  • socially aware but displays inappropriate reciprocal interaction

Researchers feel that Asperger's syndrome is probably hereditary in nature because many families report having an "odd" relative or two. In addition, depression and bipolar disorder are often reported in those with Asperger's syndrome as well as in family members.

At this time, there is no prescribed treatment regimen for individuals with Asperger's syndrome. In adulthood, many lead productive lives, living independently, working effectively at a job (many are college professors, computer programmers, dentists), and raising a family.

Sometimes people assume everyone who has autism and is high-functioning has Asperger's syndrome. However, it appears that there are several forms of high-functioning autism, and Asperger's syndrome is one form.

Our son is classified as high functioning with Asperger's because he knows how to speak and can carry on a conversation, yet, his does not adapt to live well. He scores that of a three to five year old in some areas of being able to take care of himself on his own. It is very difficult to watch.

1 comment:

Didi said...

What a wonderful grandpa you had. I'm sorry that you had some years there where you were seperated, but oh how the others shine.