Sunday, August 26, 2007

Who Is This Person?

I am more amazed each day at how Ashley has blossomed this summer. I know I have written about it before, but she just keeps shocking me more and more. We decided to take a day trip to the beach yesterday. We packed the van with enough stuff to last a week (the moms that read this will understand that comment) and headed east. We had not gotten very far when we crossed a river – not the beach, mind you – just a river. Ashley started to sign “swim please”. There’s the first shock. This child is totally blind in her left eye and has a acuity of 20/2000 (yes, two thousand) in her right eye. She can only focus at about one inch from that eye, yet she recognized water somehow and knew we were going to the beach to swim.

On the way there, we decided to stop at an historic family diner for lunch. The place was PACKED – not just crowded – PACKED. In the past, we would have avoided a crowd like that at all costs. It would have been way too much stimulation for my deafblind child, and after a few minutes, she would have had a meltdown of volcanic proportions. Yet today was different. We dodged the crowd, fought to get her wheelchair into the diner (not the most accessible of places), waiting about 10 minutes, and then had to weave through the entire place and dozens of people to get to our table.

In the past, waiting was not an option. If we could not immediately walk to our table and have food waiting, a meal out was just not going to happen. Several years ago, the folks at Shoney’s Restaurant figured this out, and when they saw my van pull into the handicapped parking space, would call back to the kitchen to get a grilled cheese sandwich started. By the time we were shown to our table, Ashley’s food was ready. But today was different.

We waited, we strolled to our table, and then Ashley began looking at the menu. She had to hold it one inch from her only good eye to see, but see she did. We all ordered at the same time – also an unusual occurrence, and then we waited patiently about 20 minutes for our food. We ate, we had desert, and still Ashley was happy and relaxed. She did insist on eating about half a bottle of ketchup, but hey, one success at a time!

Somedays I look at this young woman and feel like I don’t know her at all. But then, when she refuses to be wheeled out of the restaurant without holding my hand the whole time, my little girl is back and she needs her mommy. I am so very proud of the woman my little girl is becoming.

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