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Make Sure Rob Is Not Alone This Holiday Season

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Biking, Birthday Parties, and Grandparents, "Oh My!"

One of the things Dave is great at is keeping Rob's needs as a focus. Early on after the accident, Dave became overwhelmed, I think because he kept focusing on what Rob would, or might, need.  For example, Dave decided to build Rob's bike when Rob was emerging from his coma. While Dave was in the garage, or at the computer working on the bike, I was sitting with Rob because he didn't speak with enough volume to be left alone. I would wash my face, get dressed, do laundry and dishes a few minutes at a time so Rob wouldn't be alone. I appreciated the long naps Rob took because I had more time for myself. While Dave was considering Rob's future needs, I was focused on the present.

At first, I thought the bike would be good therapy for Dave. While it was good for Dave, it has been amazing for Rob. Last weekend we rode the 35 mile Terra Bella ride in Gilroy for the second time. Dave keeps track of our times and was pleased to report that we improved since last year.

I noticed that it was not as stressful to get out the door and loaded in the van as on previous rides.

As usual, Rob was in high spirits, singing, and chatting as we got ready for the ride.

What really got my attention was after the ride. We were eating lunch and visiting with other cyclists. Dave was talking with a friend about Carlos.

Rob turned to me and asked, "Are they talking about Carlos, they guy I hung out with awhile ago?"

"Yes," I said with amazement because Carlos had only spent two nights at our house and it had been a few months earlier. (When Carlos was leaving our house, he said to Rob, "You'd better remember me when I see you again." I told Carlos that would be unlikely because Rob didn't see him regularly.)

I called him 'C-los' didn't I?" Rob asked.

"Yes, you did," I said proudly.

Rob surprised me again last night. He had been invited to the birthday party of one of Eddie's girlfriend, Shannon. I was taking Rob to the birthday party while Dave was finishing up a training ride for an upcoming bike race. The plan was that Dave would meet us there after he finished his ride.

It is challenging for me to take Rob out by myself especially to places we have never been. Many places aren't easy for me to maneuver. Sometimes a curb or bump in the sidewalk or a tight wheelchair parking space necessitate a second, or third try, to get the wheelchair over it. Almost always, strangers jump in to help us. I appreciate the help and am a bit embarrassed that I need it. But, because Rob doesn't have as many oppportunities to hang out with his friends, I knew I had to suck it up and take him. Don't misunderstand, I love Rob's friends and their girlfriends. Although we have only met Shannon once, at a Poker Night at our house, Shannon handled Rob's flirting with her beautifully.

As we drove past the restaurant to find a handicapped parking space I noticed the entrance to the restaurant had five steps up to the landing. This might be the quickest trip ever, I thought to myself. If there isn't a way to get him into the restaurant, we'll just wish Shannon a Happy Birthday and go to dinner somewhere else.

As I unloaded Rob, Eddie appeared and wheeled Rob to the patio where the party held. The music was loud, there was lots of drinking, and dancing. Rob loved it. He was singing along with the songs and screaming at people. Fortunately, no one could hear him. Everyone was lovely but I needed to leave after an hour and a half. Rob remembered why we were there and whose birthday it was.We said our good byes, Rob wished Shannon a Happy Birthday, and Eddie walked us to the van and helped me load Rob. A great night.

Earlier, we had spent the morning helping Dave's parents sort through their things as they work on their move to a new home. Rob can amuse himself for hours with his iPad or iPod but after an hour, his iPod needed recharging. He handled it well and watched as we loaded cars and packed things in boxes. Rob's ability to see the needs of others as a priority has improved dramatically.

I'm still working on the needs in the present. That means I had better stop writing and wash my face, get dressed, do laundry and dishes. Luckily today, I can do all of that without taking breaks in between, because if Rob needs something, he'll stop playing on his iPod and let me know.

Happy Easter everyone!