It's the Last Day! 2018 is Down the Drain!
By Kim Rossi
Hello friends, and Happy New Year. I haven't written too much about my daughters since my Memoir All I Can Handle I'm No Mother Teresa debuted 8 years ago. They have grown into young women, adults over the age of 18. Can you imagine that?
My middle daughter Gianna is the most talkative of the three. She helps sort and make sense of her world via the calendar. Each Friday is "the last day!" -- of the week. Each 30th or 31st is "the last day!" -- of the month. And today, December 31st is the greatest of all last days to her.
In 2005, when we moved as an intact family from Ohio to Massachusetts to live with my parents after a long stint of unemployment, my Dad and Gianna formed a special bond. It was difficult to move into my childhood bedroom with a husband. Strange. I felt as if I was in an MTV "real weird world" special. The upside was that the kids got to really know their grandparents and my folks, who always were able to willing to meet the girls were they are - not where they wished they were - loved having us there.
One of my Dad's silly lessons with Gianna has stuck. They would look at the calendar together and my Dad would say, "Where did Tuesday go, Gianna?" She would laugh. And he'd turn his thumb to the ground and say, "Down the drain!" And then they would laugh together. He did this for a reason. Gianna was afraid of the bathtub drain. And the shower drain. So by making her beloved calendar go "down the drain," my Dad helped ease that fear for her. I'm not sure he even knew he was providing a form of therapy for her. He did so by instinct. That's love.
When my Dad died at age 92 in February of 2017, the girls and I were in the midst of the divorce. Dan Olmsted had died just weeks earlier. The three D's - Dan, Dad, Divorce. It was a nasty, frightful time in our lives. I was unable to fully shield them from the dark energy that enveloped our house. The funeral was at the National Cemetery on Cape Cod. I booked a hotel room for 1 night near my parents' house and off the girls and I went, to bury Grandpy.
At the cemetery, Mia stayed in the minivan, Gianna and Bella and I walked to the burial - which was outside - in a small covered area. Instantly, cousins who barely knew the girls helped us. One held onto Bella's arm. I kept Gianna near me. We listened to the prayers. Wept as Taps was played. My Dad was the last of the Rossi brothers. An era had passed. We knew it.
At the end of the service, Gianna, in her beautiful, funny, charming autistic way, said aloud for all to hear (she only HAS an outdoor voice) "GRANDPY IS IN THE BOX! DOWN THE DRAIN!"
Everyone laughed, a great release of pain and a reminder of my Dad's sense of humor. My eyes darted to my Mom - and I mouthed "I'm sorry!!!" We still laugh over the moment.
We're all getting older. Many of us have been at the autism "game" for 20 or more years. Most of us have not caught the brass ring of recovery for our kids. That's OK. And we're all going "down the drain" at some point. Life changes. Little by little over time. Sometimes in an instant. Still, we can craft a good life for ourselves, and we must.
I wish everyone of you a blessed, hopeful 2019.
Kim, just read this today. It left me in tears. Many hugs!
Posted by: Anne McElroy Dachel | January 02, 2019 at 10:46 AM
Not my mid 50s but my late mid to late 40s.
I think you can do things to help yourself to reduce stress. Every parent with a child with autism should never ignore themselves or that fact.
Posted by: Benedetta | January 01, 2019 at 10:32 AM
Kim: I am so sorry for just how stressed you were in 2017 !
You are a very strong person. As John Stone said fortitude.
I myself am ashamed to say I am not that strong. I became very ill, in my mid 50s, with migraines and some kind of sleeping illness (I was ill feeling, but would doze all night and day long) not all the time, just maybe a day or two out of each week. If I fought it and got up, example just taking my son to school, I would have to pull over to throw up. It took a few years to recover. Years, that I could not afford to be ill, which added on additional stress.
Three Ds Oh, Kim; I did know that 2017 was a stressful for you, just not that much!
Many years back, a professors told us about some researchers in 1967 that thought too much stress could lead to illness. In other words our immune system does depend on our emotional well being.
They asked those in the military to list what they thought the greatest stressors of life were. They then tracked these members in the military.
Top 10 most stressful life events according to Holmes and Rahe, and how these were used to predict the likelihood of illness.
Each event is assigned a “Life Change Unit” score. These are then added together over a year and used to predict your risk of illness. For adults, the top ten most stressful life events and their “Life Change Unit” scores are as follows:
Death of a spouse (or child*): 100
Marital separation: 65
Death of a close family member: 63
Personal injury or illness: 53
Dismissal from work: 47
Marital reconciliation: 45
80% likelihood of illness for scores over 300
50% likelihood of illness for scores between 150-299
30% likelihood of illness for scores less than 150
I think large moves should be included on this list. If Military people were asked to list the stressors probably moving was not on the list because they know they are going to move, plus they are all moving to yet another military base, which has a bit of sameness to the move.
However; some one that makes big a move ; cross state lines after years living in one place, and leaving extended family, friends, community, farm, home, old job, old life is a huge stressor. I wonder what number should be assigned to that?
I am pretty sure that moving back in with your parents is a stressor too, what would that number be? Moving from a bigger home to a smaller one? The stress would lessen probably after a few months in.
As for autism. On the list is Personal injury or illness: 53; since autism is continuous year after year then as the year rolls around do we just tack on 53 at the beginning of each year? Probably. What happens if it is just not autism, but new stuff that always develops with autism like seizures, or (fill in the blank, cause it does) is that another extra 53?
Along with autism; not just additional health problems; other stuff happens that are emotionally wrenching. Instances in school for example ? What number would that be assigned to that?
I also wonder if personal injury is 53 for each member of the family that has a personal injury. For instants is it 53 times 3 for three daughters?
I am glad Kim that you took karate in the midst of all of this. You are a roll model for a lot of us.
Posted by: Benedetta | January 01, 2019 at 10:28 AM
And, yes, I completely meant gratiDude!
(OK, no, not really, however, plz consider giving me a chance to redeem myself)?
Again, love and SO MUCH gratitude!!!!!
Posted by: annie | January 01, 2019 at 01:17 AM
When You reach a milestone
Or something dear,
There’s only one way
To say happy new year!!!!!
Love and SO MUCH GRATIDUDE
Posted by: annie | January 01, 2019 at 01:13 AM
Smart and wise.
Happy New Year's Eve everyone!
Posted by: Jeannette Bishop | December 31, 2018 at 06:39 PM
Thank you for sharing these words,. Thank you for being my friend in cyberspace as I struggle along with you to try to carve out a life for my vaccine injured child and family. I agree that one of the best things we can do is to try to enjoy our situation in a special kind of victory over those that tried to hurt us. We are enjoying our tough lives in spite of them. My co worker told me today: Be the good. Try to believe there is still good in the world. That is a tough one for me to swallow or to try to live up to. Good luck to us!!
Posted by: Loraine Fishel | December 31, 2018 at 06:08 PM
So beautifully written. Thank you.
Posted by: 4Bobby | December 31, 2018 at 04:56 PM
I love this post!
Twenty years 'in' over here, and that brass ring of recovery may just as well be on another planet...that's how out of reach it is for us. Thank you, Kim, for always sharing the bad as well as the good. I'm not sure you realize how many of us out here get through the most brutal autism days by thinking, "Well, Kim's still going strong, so I guess I can, too."
Happy New Year to you and The Girls!
Posted by: Donna L. | December 31, 2018 at 03:54 PM
Thanks, Kim - and thank you (and everyone at AoA) for being the best website ever for covering the issue of vaccines, autism, other injuries and, indeed, other controversial issues.
It would be a less interesting world without you all.
Wishing AoA readers and contributors all the best for 2019.
Posted by: susan welch | December 31, 2018 at 03:31 PM
and down the drain it is! A yuge drain, big as that ocean of sick children that grow daily. Love to you and your family from me and my family. May the New Year bring us all a new optimism in stopping the autism epidemic and healing our sick children. Maurine and Josh
Posted by: Maurine Meleck | December 31, 2018 at 09:35 AM
Thanks, Kim. You are indeed an inspiration to all.
Posted by: Gary Ogden | December 31, 2018 at 09:08 AM
Thanks Kim that means a lot thank you for sharing.Heres to 2019 when it comes as I hold my cup of tea to the screen,`this year`, cheers !.
Pharma For Prison
Posted by: Angus Files | December 31, 2018 at 08:49 AM
Great poignance Kim. Thank you for this, and for your remarkable fortitude, which is an inspiration for all your readers.
Posted by: John Stone | December 31, 2018 at 07:40 AM