16 November 2013

Day 1461 – Grayson’s Journey


Hello again old and loyal friends!
It has been a LONG time since I last posted.
Today is the fourth anniversary of Grayson’s injury. Grayson continues is his existing state – not much change from month to month. Each day is different depending on whatever magic invades his brain that day. He is happy and comfortable and every morning is a gift! We are looking forward to snow in Mammoth and hope for a prolific ski season this year!
Life has been full, busy and eventful. While things are calm and stable with Grayson and our new life with him, life by its very nature presents new and exciting opportunities at every turn. As we entered 2013, I expected “more of the same” and not much change in 2013. God has a way of adjusting our expectations!
After 36 years and 8 days of working for the Boeing Company, the successor of the space business of Hughes Aircraft, I have retired effective October 25th. Now 3 weeks later, it still seems a bit unreal – especially considering the crazy and exciting special assignment I was working up until the last. That special assignment gave me the opportunity to visit and speak with friends and colleagues from all over the country – St Louis, Philadelphia, Houston, Huntsville, Phoenix, Seattle and Southern California. What a wonderful capstone to a career!
I’m writing this at 39,000 feet above mean sea level, and we are just passing over New Orleans. Regina and I are on our way to Miami where we will be embarking on a 7-day cruise to celebrate our 30th anniversary. I can hardly believe that 30 years have passed since that joyful day in 1983 when we were married. Wasn’t it only yesterday that we had our honeymoon? And that trip to Europe? And brought Grayson home from the hospital? And Austin? And Lauren? Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts? Confirmation? High School graduations? Wow! What happened to the time? One thing is certain as I watch my beautiful wife lay sleeping peacefully here beside me on the plane – our love endures and continues to grow. I’m not sure that I ever could have expected to have been so fortunate to have experienced the gifts of joy that come from a life of faithfulness to a woman that I love so dearly.
I sign off now over the Gulf of Mexico leaving you with a special public thanks to Lauren, our primary back-up, as well as Zack, Rita, Austin and Xixi, for all of their help in enabling our anniversary voyage – a gift beyond belief!
Pax!
Brant

27 June 2013

Day 1319 – Grayson’s Journey

Our dear family and friends,

Today was Grayson's 28th birthday. When I went in to check on him about 6:30 this morning I found him sound asleep on the sofa in his room. He had gotten out of bed sometime after midnight, grabbed a book off the shelf and sat in the dark until he fell asleep. While this has only happened once before, I am thankful that we have a perimeter alarm on his bedroom door to alert us if he leaves his room.

He had a delightful day with his caregiver Maria. She has been with us for seven months and takes him on three walks up the canyon every day. She brought him a personal sized birthday cake and they shared it together while they perused her National Geographic coffee table book. I am so grateful that she has stayed with us so long and provides a familiar face for him each weekday.

This evening Grayson and I did things that he loves. I gave him his choice of dinner selections and he chose cheeseburger, fries and a chocolate shake. We spent time reading birthday wishes from friends on Facebook. He struggled but was able to tell me where he knew most of his friends from. One close high school friend noticed he was online and sent a message suggesting that they get together soon and "maybe... put some citrus fruit in the road for old times' sake". I can only imagine what that meant but it sure made Grayson smile. Thank God for old friends. Grayson's long term memory can still bring him joy.

For the last hour or so before I put him to bed Grayson was cracking up watching reruns of The Big Bang Theory.

Life for the three of us is settled into a familiar routine. Grayson is never left unattended. We take him everywhere with us. He still needs cueing to accomplish the simplest tasks of daily living. He still can't manage even washing his hands without direction. His speech if anything is worse than in the months immediately following his injury 3 ½ years ago in spite of working with him daily. Today when I asked him to tell me how old he is he answered 21. I told him that he is 28 then asked him again and his answer remained 21 each time. Yet last night before bed, I asked him what the next day was and he said "my birthday". As we have said before, his memory is like Swiss cheese. Sometimes you get cheese and sometimes you get a hole.

Those of you who knew Grayson well know he always had a book in his pocket (one of the reasons he always wore cargo pants). He was a voracious reader – anything from constitutional law, to black holes to anime. Today is no different. If he walks past any printed material he picks it up - novel, dictionary, comic book, or junk mail catalogue. I know some of that is just habit memory. Sometimes he just flips the pages – frequently with the book upside down or one in each hand. It's tempting to think that he isn't really reading anything but even with the book upside down he laughs appropriately. That's easy to understand when it's a comic book. Last week we were waiting for someone at a restaurant and I gave him my Kindle to occupy him (no pictures). I opened a book that was pre-loaded called "Bossy Pants" by Tina Fey. He started laughing on the first page. Since I have never read it, I checked to see what he was laughing at. Sure enough, the first page was hilarious. HE STILL CAN READ! He just doesn't remember what he reads.

Brant (in Texas and Alabama last week, Seattle this week) and I are grateful that we have been able to share 28 years with Grayson. It is a blessing and a challenge daily and nothing that we ever imagined. We are firmly united in our mission to make sure he is not only well taken care of but that he feels loved and cherished – because he is.

Peace,

Regina

18 February 2013

Day 1191 – Grayson’s Journey

Dear family and friends
After a month of silence, I thought I had better get back with some updates. A few hours on a flight this morning seemed to be a good time to relieve my guilt and hit the keyboard.
2013 has started off with a busy bang and things have not let up! My work has been busy with extra responsibilities. It appears that several special assignments may be coming to an end, but one is never sure. As much as the long hours are not my favorite thing, these special assignments are alays interesting and challenging – something I always enjoy. Now I need to get back to my “regular job” which has not had my full attention lately. Thank goodness I have a wonderful team of managers to keep things running smoothly while I’m otherwise distracted!
Grayson has been doing well. He continues to have his ups and downs in terms of cognition, but he has been healthy – except for the runny nose that has been bugging him for weeks. He and Maria (his care giver) are doing a lot of walking these days as the sun has been out a lot and it isn’t too hot. These walks are good for him and Maria has been exploring areas in the canyon that they can go to see new things. I’m happy to see him using his legs as that bodes well for his skiing – and it looks like we’ll have the opportunity to have two more long trips this season. Grayson and I are looking forward to that!
I know that you all heard about Austin and Xixi’s engagement. They are starting to plan, but a date is not yet been picked – and they are not in a big hurry. Enjoying the planning process and doing it right is much more important to them. That is a good thing!
Having Lauren back in town is certainly a blessing. Regina and Lauren have spent a lot of time together lately and they talk all the time. Having an adult daughter is sure a treat – and having her close by is wonderful.
Regina’s father has had some health issues and was recently placed in a skilled nursing facility for some rehabilitation. He appears to be getting stronger and may be released back to home in a few weeks. We are praying for his strength and are hoping that he can get back in his own home as soon as he is able. It is a challenge when your loved ones in need are so far away.
To catch you up on the bathroom reconstruction – things are almost complete. Wall color and the shower enclosure are all we are waiting for. The bathroom (other than the shower) is functional and we have moved back in. Most of the construction dust is done, and with new pipes, the leaks are gone for another 30 years or so!
I’ll be touching down in Seattle in an hour – and I was just here last week! I think I will be able to stay away for a few weeks. Phoenix in the summer and Seattle in the winter – I sure know how to plan travel!
Enough news from the Reed Haus for now!
Pax!
Brant

21 January 2013

Day 1163 – Grayson’s Journey


Dear family and friends
Things haven’t slowed down much at work (for both Regina and I) and it appears that this pace will continue for another month or so. To top it all off, on Sunday I came down with a touch of food poisoning or the worlds quickest passing stomach flu. I wound up out of action for 24 hours – missed dinner with Austin and Xixi (they were here for dinner) and a day of work. It will all be there when I return tomorrow!
Sadly this past weekend we put Christmas away – or most of it anyway. The tree ornaments remain and there are several boxes of these treasures that we have collected since before we were married. Each year we add one or two ornaments to the collection based on something special during the year. We need to get a larger tree every year to hold them all! With all of the decorations packed away, the house always looks so drab. However in 10 months, we’ll be pulling the boxes back down again!
We are back into the regular routine here at home. Maria arrives at 9:30 to get Grayson up and through his day. She keeps him busy until 4:30 when one of us arrives to take over. Grayson has been quite alert – I suspect a byproduct of the exercise and skiing that he was doing. The challenge for us is to keep up that level of activity. We hope to get back to Mammoth one more time this winter which will help, but we really need to find something that will interest him in being active off the snow. Meanwhile he is happy and smiling!
Pax!
Brant

12 January 2013

Day 1154 – Grayson’s Journey


Dear family and friends
OK – I’ll try to get back to the blog. This week has been crazy with both Regina and I working very late each night. Friday was an early evening as we both quit work a little after 6:00. Practically a half day!
Let me start by saying that our Mammoth vacation was a blast – for all of us. Here is a little review of the second half of the week!
On New Year’s Day we slept in until 8:00. It was a leisurely morning compared to most. Generally on these trips we (the skiers) are up at around 6:30 and out as soon as we can. This day we relaxed in our pajamas and sipped our coffee by the fire and watched the Rose Parade. Later in the morning we got Grayson ready to go and headed up to the main lodge for his lesson at Disabled Sports Easter Sierra (DSES). After the lifts closed we headed back to the condo to get ready for dinner at our favorite restaurant for Regina’s last night with us. The five of us had a wonderful meal and a wonderful time together.
The next day Austin and I were up and out as fast as we could to catch our last opportunity to ski some more challenging terrain together. We got in about two hard hours of skiing before heading back to the condo to get Grayson ready for his last half day of lessons. After the lesson, we beat feet back to the condo to pick-up Regina and take her off to the airport for her flight home. I came back to the condo and Austin, Xixi and I chopped and cut the fixin’s for my Dutch Oven Beef Stew. Here is a picture – some assembly required. (The wine is for the chef!)
The balance of the week we were without adult supervision, but we managed to stay out of too much trouble. On Thursday we started Grayson on full day lessons. My intent was to take the first few days of our trip to build up his strength and become adjusted to the mountain again before going all day. Thursday, Friday and Saturday he skied from 9:30 to noon and 1:00 to 3:30. To get him there by 9:30, Grayson had to get up at 7:00. It takes about 2 hours to get him up, fed, showered, and dressed in many layers before we can get out the door. Interestingly enough, it is the ski socks that I find most difficult to get on him. Putting knee socks on another adult is a challenge that I have yet to master, but I manage to get it done – unless I can talk Austin into doing it for me! Austin and Xixi were great help every day and helped make it a great vacation for me by shouldering some of the load.
As my father used to say, Friday night was “musgo” night. That is when you look in the refrigerator and say, “This mus go, that mus go…” because there was no way that we could take it all home. We had quite a combination of dishes and managed to polish off most of the leftovers. Saturday night we celebrated by going out to dinner before starting to pack up. We finished packing and loading the car on Sunday, then drove to the Main Lodge for one last afternoon of skiing before heading home. The skiing was great fun and it was in a snowstorm – more snow on the ground for our next trip!
Just for fun, here are a few pictures of Grayson – this one in his favorite evening position watching a movie, this one just before his first run of the season with his DSES instructor on the 29th of December and finally an early run down Sesame Street on that first day in a snowstorm.
Over the course of the week, Grayson improved tremendously. While he had moments that you would expect for someone so cognitively challenged, he also had flashes of brilliance. Here is a clip of him on the day before we came home, on a run down Solitude back to Chair 10. I was amazed! He really has a knack and an aptitude for this – and the good news is that the chair lift does the hard work for him!
We are still basking in the glow of the trip in spite of returning to a madhouse at both of our places of employment. It was a great vacation!
Pax!
Brant

09 January 2013

Day 1151 – Grayson’s Journey


Dear family and friends
This is the second blog post in a row where I apologize! We returned home from Mammoth late Sunday night and it has been a whirlwind ever since. Regina and I have suddenly found ourselves way behind at work and in our volunteer activities. The demands after a great vacation can be nutty!
I’ll try to find some time over the next few days to share some stories and some pictures, but three late nights of work have me a bit pooped! Sufice it to say that Grayson once again returned from a long stay at Mammoth strong, bright-eyed and full of energy.
What a thrill to watch!
Pax!
Brant

31 December 2012

Day 1142 – Grayson’s Journey

Dear family and friends
I apologize that it has been 5 days since our last blog post. Here at this particular condo in Mammoth we have very limited internet connectivity. Here is a short synopsis of our last few days!
After Christmas we were extremely busy getting ready for our Mammoth ski trip while simultaneously closing out many yearend “must-do” tasks. We managed to get everything done and hit the road for Mammoth around 4:30 on Friday afternoon. We arrived safe and sound late Friday night.
Saturday morning Austin and Xixi joined us after a short flight from LA. Saturday afternoon Grayson had his first ski lesson of the season at Disabled Sports Easter Sierra (DSES). I was amazed at how well Grayson did, although 8 months of being away from skiing had him pretty tired at the end of the first day.
Sunday morning Austin and I had a brief but fun time on the mountain before heading back to the condo to collect Grayson for his afternoon lesson at DSES. Austin and I accompanied Grayson on his lesson He showed some symptoms of muscle soreness and tiredness which I suspect was a result of the hard work the prior day. Nonetheless he did have fun! We returned back to our condo base camp so Austin could get ready for a special night out with Xixi – a Sno-Cat Dinner at the Paralax Restaurant mid-mountain at the McCoy Station at Mammoth.
Midway through the dinner, we received a text message that Xixi had said “Yes!” Austin had proposed and had bought her a ring that he presented at dinner. What a special way to end 2012!
Today Regina dropped me at the Little Eagle for my annual ski lesson. It was a good morning and a great lesson! Austin and Regina got Grayson up and ready then I met up with them at the Main Lodge in time for Grayson’s afternoon lesson. While Austin, Grayson and I skied, the girls went to the spa. We had a fun dinner at the Yodeler Restaurant back at the Main Lodge when we all finished.
Today as 2012 winds to a close, we wish all of you our love and blessings for a prosperous and joyous new year!
Pax!
Brant