Thursday, March 18, 2010
It's true. Taylor and I can go into a restaurant and I can order him the kid's meal and a martini. He's 25. He has a sort of driver's license -looking card that proves it. One big thing that really threw me (and my step husband) about four years ago, was that we learned that we needed to legally become Taylor's guardians. We are (and were back then) his parents. His real parents---biological and acting parents. the real deal parents. No kidding parents. I'm not trying to be flippant here or disrespectful, but who else would want to be his guardian? We had to retain a lawyer, complete all these forms and then go before a judge to make it legal so that we could become Taylor's legal guardians. It was weird....and stressful. Looking back, in some ways, though, it was sort of like having our vows redone. What is that called when people re-do their vows to one another? Oh,yeah, renewing. We renewed our vows to Taylor. It's true. (I love this concept of renewing our vows to our children.) We sat around a big mahogany table with our lawyers and the judge. It was tape recorded. I don't know why, but I cried all the way through it. I remember a bailiff of some sort trying his best to sit inconspicuously over in the corner (reading "Field and Stream" Magazine) as we renewed our vows to our retarded son. He was sort of like our best man, I guess. But, I wonder why we needed a bailiff. Were things going to get ugly? We were there by choice. The judge asked, "Do you promise to love and hold this person's life in his best interest for as long as he is in your custody?" Something like that....only more serious and evidently quite poignant because I was sobbing. Just like brides are when they can't get their words out---only I was a mother holding on to my heart.
Was it the realization that finally on paper...on a piece of ivory water-marked paper, there were words that stated very bluntly, "This is an incapacitated adult male. You are now his legal guardian." The paper did not state that I was his mother. That might have carried far too much weight. No, it said that we would be his legal guardians. How do you go from being the mama and the daddy to being a court documented legal custodian? Being a mama seems so much bigger....so much more important....so much more necessary and long lasting and......sacred.
Whew...that was a lot of words you just read. Dense and intense. That's what that experience was though---dense and intense.
So now we have to keep copies of that legal document with us most of the time...like at the doctor or dentist or bank. It's a place I don't know how to be in so well. Here is a full grown man-bodied person carrying around "Lady and the Tramp" movies.
He has a fully mature body (work with me here) but the mind of a five year old.
However.....however....Taylor loves bosoms. (That would be my mother's word, so I'll use it.) This is not something we taught him. It's his own natural testosterone kicking in. As his very own doctor told me, "He's retarded, not blind." Hence the bosom thing. (Please don't hold back your laughter. It's ok. If you'll be "in this" with me, you can laugh legally.) So, here's my big huge spiritual question: When we go to the pediatric dentist, what "toy" should he be given at the end of the exam?
That may not sound so much like a spiritual question, so let me explain.
How do we honor Taylor for who he is and allow him to live as fully as he can being who he is? I bet I've lost you.
Let me just cut to the chase and tell you that his brother bought Taylor some 'Hooters' magazines. I take those magazines to the (pediatric) dentist and after Taylor's had his work done, instead of giving him a balloon, I give him the magazine. "The Sports Illustrated" swim suit edition works just as well. I draw the line at stuff more risque than that. I don't know how I would ever in a million years be able to explain all of those other body parts to him. Bosoms are our outer limit and we even keep those semi-oovered.
Like your life and my life, we live so much in contradictions and paradoxes and between juxtapositions that just about knock us off our feet. Life is both so fragile and brutal in the same breath. We're strong in our broken places. The cracks are where the light comes through. All of that is true.
So, renew your vows to those whom you love---fully capable or incapacitated, no matter.
My real other big fat spiritual revelation is that I think I know what a mama and a legal guardian do: We shall feed our flocks like a shepherd; and we shall gather the lambs with our arms, and carry them in our bosoms.
Life lessons everywhere we look. Are you with me?