It's National Grandparents Day! Who knew? If it weren't for social media, this day probably would have passed by, unannounced, unnoticed. I'm afraid at times unnoticed may be how you feel, with all of our busy schedules, fast pace life style and the distance between our homes and our visits (insert guilt here).
So, on your very own National Holiday, I wanted to take time to make sure you know that your love, support and acceptance does not go unnoticed by me or your grandchildren, especially one grandchild in particular. Today, on National Grandparents Day, I want to thank you. Not just for being the best grandparents to all your grandchildren but for never treating Ryan differently, never making him feel “less” than any of your other beloved grandkids.
Your support and your unconditional love has not gone unnoticed by your grandson or by your daughter. We have all come so far on this unplanned journey, but, as with everything in my life, I could not have made it here without you.
In the early days, when I saw "different", when I obsessed over “different” you saw "same". You pointed out all the things Ryan did so well, instead of focusing on his struggles. When I was so scared, so worried about The A Word and all I could see was AUTISM, you both only ever saw HIM.
When I finally got the courage to say The A Word to you through my hiccupy sobs, you never saw "less". In fact, if anything you saw "more". You saw his amazing memory, his ability to mimic any voice or noise he heard and you saw progress. You always saw progress-more and more progress. Since day one, you always saw and gave "more", even from two hours away.
All the phone calls where I worried I was screwing up, you assured me that my lack of understanding did not equate to my lack of love. In fact, I remember calling you as I laid on the floor in a puddle of tears after a particularly hard day and you told me how proud of me you were. I thought perhaps your hearing was going since clearly I believed I was failing him, but, you knew I was not.
Every time we show up at your home to visit, on your counters, in your refrigerator and in your pantry are his favorite foods. And even though those foods are limited and very, very specific, you have never complained about how “picky” he is and you have never said my most hated phrase, "He will eat when he is hungry". You do not wait for him to be that hungry. You give him what he needs and understand that it's not just about what he wants.
When touch bothered him, you respected this, you never forced kisses or hugs even though every ounce of your grandparent being wanted to scoop him up and reassure him of your love because you understood his body wasn't ready. And in turn, now years later, when his body was ready, he shows his appreciation for your respect and understanding by bowling you over with his big bear hugs that I fear may knock you down and cause you to break a hip.
Whether you were there in person or not, you have always been in the audience watching him grow and flourish as he finally finds his way. And whether I saw the pride as tears streamed down your face or heard it in the crack of your voice over the phone, I know that your love for him matches my own and that the three of us know how blessed we all are to have him in our lives.
All that you give, all that you are, is love and even though we don't say it enough we are so very grateful. The thing that means the most to your grandson and to me is not just your love and acceptance of him, but, your willingness to understand him. To read the books, watch the movies and educate yourself so that you could love him, support him and give him “more” without ever seeing “less”.
For all the times he didn’t say it, for all the times I didn’t say it, thank you Grammy and Pappy. Thank you for always seeing HIM and in doing so, filling his world with your love all while seeing the beauty that his world holds for you.
We love you,
Ryan and me