“What children need most are the essentials grandparents provide in abundance. They give unconditional love, kindness, patience, humour, comfort, lessons in life and most importantly COOKIES!!” (make that GF cookies!)
Last year I wrote “The Visit” as my father and my son were reuniting after more than a year. I also wanted to honour all the grandparents who are in the front lines, to help, support and comfort us.
After more than a year away from us, my parents are finally back . . .
This past year has been difficult. The detox reactions can be very intense, both for our children and for the entire family. We all know reversing the damage that has been caused to our kids is a gargantuan task. Thankfully, with every difficult moment in the past year we have been rewarded with wonderful gains and beautiful moments. It is really extraordinary to witness a soul blossom into the personality that it’s always meant to be. And it is even more wonderful to be able to share these victories with love ones.
While we all work hard to make our children better and try our very best to bring them back, only the parents, the caregivers, the grandparents are able to really appreciate the magnitude of the ongoing miracle that is unfolding. This year, just like last year, my parents will have witnessed a rollercoaster of emotions. A lot of Firsts and magic moments, and some more difficult ones (full moon did not spare us this year either!!). But all in all, they will leave once more with an even better understanding of what we do, why we do it, and why we fight to spread the truth. They have become Thinkers and are telling their grandchild’s story everywhere. They understand it is possible to make them better, and, for all this, I am very grateful.
This year, more than ever, they leave with beautiful new memories of their grandson playing with his little sister, and of him attempting to tell jokes. They leave confident that we are on the right path, but most importantly, they leave with an intuition they did not have last year, that perhaps Recovery isn’t that distant dream anymore . . .
The Visit (originally ran 06/21/2012)
Pacing back and forth, Aki Mac (the nickname my children have given to my father) is impatiently waiting by the door for the school bus to emerge from the street corner. In a few minutes, he will be reunited with his grandson. It has been a year since they last saw each other.
The minutes seem endless. As I watch him pace outside the house, anxiously looking at the street corner, I allow my thoughts to drift back in time…. Aki Mac has been by my son’s side from the moment I decided to embark on this journey. I first decided to start the diet and a few supplements when I went home for the summer after giving birth to our daughter. My dad was the one running after D in hopes of giving him his supplements. He made sure he ate his new GFCF cereals or bread, he kept him entertained and happy so I could take care of the baby with my mother and rest a little.
Throughout the past 4 years, my parents have flown to see their grandchildren at least twice a year. When Aki Mac is in town, it is always fun. He takes our kids to the park and he takes them swimming. If we are on vacation together, not a minute is wasted. He is always on the go with D., trying to teach him how to ride a bike, or play tennis, or ball. From the moment I told him that we were going to try to heal his grandson’s little body, he jumped on board along with my mom. They never questioned; they never judged. They just hoped and supported us – morally and financially – through prayers and love. During the past 4 years, I have noticed the sadness and desperation in Aki Mac’s eyes even though he has always tried to hide it.
As the bus pulls into the driveway, Aki Mac picks up his pace; he is almost running towards the bus. D is impatiently trying to open its door. He is shaking with excitement, jumping, his eyes are dancing with joy, his soul is smiling and I can see his face glowing. The door finally opens and he jumps in Aki Mac’s arms. D keeps hugging him and looking at him…and hugging and looking some more. He wants to make sure he is not dreaming. The bond between them is exceptional, I can’t explain it. It is real and strong, and today, more than ever, it is there.
My mother and I are standing further back in awe of the scene that is unfolding in front of our eyes. Suddenly, D realizes his Nana is there too. He decides to let go of Aki Mac for just a moment and runs towards my mother, throwing himself in her arms.
My parents are blown away by all his changes, by his eye contact, by his questions. They look at me, proud and happy to see that all that we do is not in vain. At that moment, I pray selfishly that this is going to be the preview of our 10 days together. “Please, please God, let him stay well while they are here, let them see him in his best behavior and mood”. I didn’t want them to see the ugly, the screaming, the tantrums. What I didn’t realize is that the full moon was just around the corner, waiting to show its ugly face.
The full moon has the worst effect on my child. Every month, for about five days to a week, it is almost as if I have a different child in the house. He will go from being engaged, playful, social and smiling, to angry, aggressive, unpredictable and moody. This time, there is no escaping; my parents witness the sudden, almost hard to believe change in behavior in our son. It’s almost as if God and the universe had planned all of this to happen so they could embark on our rollercoaster ride for the week. All of the sudden, as if they have been hit with a hammer over their heads, my parents realize this is what we go through.
As my dad approaches me, I can see that he has an overwhelming urge to cry, a sad melancholy tightens around his heart. Just like most grandparents, he too had his dreams. Grandparenting is much different from parenthood. The daily stress, the decision making, the financial problems and other strains of parenthood are not present in grandparenting. Once our parents have reached that remarkable stage, they are allowed to savor in all the joy of being with grandchildren. Grandparents have dreams of teaching them to navigate the world and taking them on wild adventures. My dad had these dreams, too, and they were stolen from him. Aki Mac does not get to savor all those joys.
I watch him sob and I feel helpless. It is as though, at this very moment, nothing I could say could help. Suddenly, it hits me: our parents have a double burden. They worry about our kids, their futures, their health, and what will become of them when we are all gone. Then they worry about us, their own children, their own flesh and blood, for whom they want nothing but the very best. Aki Mac wonders how we have done it so far. How have we coped with all of it emotionally and physically? Aki Mac wishes he could take away my pain, and some of the weight that I have been carrying on my shoulders.
A generation of Aki Macs is as much if not more affected by this epidemic as we, the parents, are. Some have rolled up their sleeves and stood by their children’s side, while others may have found it too difficult to cope with. Whatever their position, I know they are all hurting for us and for our children.
And then, just like that, as if he did not want to let them leave all worried and sad, D reemerged the day before their departure just as if nothing had happened all week.
The full moon is behind us. He is back. He is funny, smiling, singing all the cool songs he knows. He is asking my dad questions. They go to the park together; they read books and play ball (or at least they try). I know now that my parents will go home with much hope and gratitude: it is not all bad. There is some good, a lot of good actually. We just have to keep working harder and harder. We just have to strongly believe that he will get better, and get better he will.
As his departure approaches, I can see my son holding on to the hand of his Aki Mac. He doesn’t want him to leave. He doesn’t know how to express it. And then, as he realizes that he has no choice but to let go of his hand, tears begin to flow. “Aki Mac, please don’t go, I want you to stay, don’t go on the plane…please…,” as inconsolable tears fall down his precious little face. His sadness is palpable and heavier by the minute. As we try to pull them away from each other, he attempts one last time to convince him: “please, come to the beach with us so we can feed the birds and play in the waves.”
I am sobbing… we all are. But my husband’s eyes lock into mine and I know his are crying happy tears, too. For the first time, my son is able to express his sadness. Right now, I enjoy the magic of this victory, knowing that I’ll be able to cry my tears of sadness later.
And as for my dad, for both my parents, they leave with their hearts full of hope. They bring back with them the dream that perhaps next time around, they will find him fully recovered….♥