Saturday 1 September 2012

Reunion Day 2: Disaster

As you can guess from the title, today did not go well.

Maybe it's just too little sleep over the last few days but my resiliency reserves were not as deep as they should be.

Our first stop for the day was the Rosedale suspension bridge. 

Generally I have a minor challenge with heights, not comfortable but dealable.  However, going across a swaying bridge where my eyes constantly move past the chainlink walls, giving me the illusion that nothing is stopping me from falling would not have been a smart decision to start with.  Add to that it was a windy day and I kept feeling like me or the camera would be blown away any second and it wasn't pleasant.  The boys both loved it though.

Once they were on the other side, they wanted to climb the hills.  I agreed quite happily.  I have a lot of fond memories about scrambling over the hills in Drumheller when I was their age. 

However, I had not reckoned on the rain from the day before making everything quite slippery and mucky.  The boys both climbed like little mountain goats with their Avi and Shelby scrambling behind.  I got left behind rather quickly and decided to turn back and wait at the bridge.  However, in negotiating through the steep hills, my footing suddenly slipped and I rode the clay down a few metres into a small gully.  Luckily I wasn't hurt, but I was covered in gray-brown clay from head to toe.  I tried to keep my sense of humour up by telling myself that people pay money to experience this at spas but my heart wasn't in it.

I went home to take a shower and have a good cry before the reunion event of the evening.  That day was the big group photo.  We misunderstood the instructions and arrived early, which meant the boys had to wait for an extended period, never a good plan.  It took awhile to herd everyone together but eventually we got the photo done.

After the photo, there was still almost an hour to wait until dinner.  Again, in retrospect, I should have taken them outside but I was feeling flustered still.  Dave had told Alex he couldn't ride the elevator any more and Shelby was upset because she was getting different instructions from both of us.  The upshot: both Alex and Nathan were in full meltdown mode by the time dinner started.  There was no choice but to send them back to the hotel with Dave and Shelby, which left me feeling very isolated and alone.

A big thanks to my aunt Susie and cousin Dom who both noticed I was upset and took me aside to give me time to breathe.  I was watching the other little children running around the convention center and getting more and more upset that my children couldn't tolerate being there.  There are times when I feel that autism has robbed me of a part of my children's lives and I try to accept that I feel that way and move on. 

I'm glad I stayed for the dinner and speeches.  I heard some stories I hadn't heard before about Opa Bill (my great-great-grandfather) who was the firechief of Drumheller.  When the fire-phone would ring in the night, his grandchildren would jump up to watch because Opa Bill would invariably knock over the carefully lined up milk bottles in his rush to get out of the house.  We heard about Opa Bill's passion for singing and how our family dominated the church choir for many years and had many spontaneous singalongs in harmony.  As someone who constantly sings in the car, that was nice to hear.

After dinner, I stayed to visit with my cousins.  I haven't seen most of them since the last reunion.  We talked about how strange it was to get together now.  Some of us had extended times when we lived in the same city and would see each other regularly but then the military would move us onward and we wouldn't see each other again for years on end.  It ends up freezing people at particular stages in their development.  And now we're all adults with jobs and spouses and such.  The age gap is no longer that important.

They asked me to come along to find a good bar to continue the conversation but I decided to return to the hotel.  I knew I needed rest to deal with what was coming tomorrow.  It may have started out a bad day but it ended on a fairly good note.

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