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From Paul

Paul is my youngest son, who was born with cerebral palsy, Asperger's syndrome and a unique way of seeing life. I've decided to share him with you from time to time through his own words. This is what popped out the other night—and in case you're wondering, yes, he knows that can't happen. He just wishes it could!

From Paul: "I'd like to draw a picture for Jesus and send it up to him – to go up in the sky. With balloons." He stops to think. "But I don't know what he wants."

Paul:  How was Biden’s speech?
Mom: It was really good. He talked about getting jobs for everyone and making things in America—like the windmills. They make them in China. We should make them in America and we should only buy things made in America.
Paul:  What about Swiss chocolate?

Paul stood up using the hand grip on the new pole we set up for him by his bed.

Mom:   Did the pole help?
Paul:   Yeah. The Irish did, too.

Paul was trying hard to reach the jug he dropped from his wheelchair so he could pick it up. I was about to get it for him when he lifted it up.

Paul:   I got it.
Mom:   I didn’t think you were going to be able to get it. You did good!
Paul:   Jesus helped me.
Mom:   How?
Paul:   He lifted it up a little so I could reach it.

Mom:  I don't tell you very often, but I don't know how you do it. It must be so hard to be disabled and have muscle spasms every day and night and for it to be so hard to do things—like getting dressed—that most people do without even thinking about them. Your neck surgery and recovery in rehab were really painful but you were always—almost always—happy and loving life. I just don't know how you do it.
Paul:  I have God with me.

Mom:  You can do the “put shoulder blades together” exercise while you’re sitting there. See if you can put them together like this. . .
Paul:   They were always together. They never broke up.

Next morning -

Mom:  Are your shoulder blades still together?
Paul:  Yes. Actually, they got married. They’ll be together forever.

Mom:  I'm just getting the wrinkles out of your sock. (Laughing,) I don't want you to have wrinkles, like me.
Paul:   You don't have wrinkles.
Mom:  Yes, I do. See? (I show him a few wrinkles on me.)
Paul:   I just ignore the wrinkles. I just see the most beautiful mom in the world.

Paul: Mom, if I meet the girl of my dreams and we get married and if we have a baby girl, I’m going to name her Sheila because I love you so much.

This one came out of the blue the other day –

Paul:  In heaven you don’t need to pray. You just talk to God right there.

Paul needs help getting to the bathroom and sometimes he calls in the middle of the night for me. Then to top it off, he’ll sit there and talk to himself for a long time after he goes.  I got the call about 12:30 a.m. and it went like this:

Mom:  Are you done yet?
Paul:  Yes.
Mom: You were done a long time ago, weren’t you?
Paul:  Yes.
Mom: Paul, you have to call me right away when you’re done. You woke me up and I need to go back to sleep. You shouldn’t make me wait after I got up in the middle of the night for you.
Paul:  You’re pretty, mom. You’re the prettiest mom in the world.
Mom:  That’s not going to cut it, Paul.
Paul, quietly: It doesn’t need to cut it. It’s the truth.
(Mom, to myself: I can’t win.)

We were circling up the ramps, looking for a parking space in the hospital parking garage, getting nowhere. All the spots were full. We were approaching the rooftop spaces.

Paul, not too worried: If we have to, we’ll park on a cloud.

Paul, explaining why something couldn’t be done.

Paul: Nope, you can't do it any more than you can squeeze lemon juice out of a tomato.

Paul, describing a teacher assistant that he loved.

Paul: She’s a lump of sugar turned into a human being. She’s really sweet.

This one’s when Paul was 15 years old.

Mom:  Why do you keep saying I’m such a good mom? What about me makes you keep saying that?
Paul:  You’re the best mom in the world because you’re a mom that can go all through life with a child with difficulties.

Paul was 15 years old and looking forward to flying for the first time, in a small plane with his friend in his friend's dad's plane. The week before, a DC-10 had crashed in Chicago. Paul was worried, but still excited, and had everything covered.

Paul, using his arms to illustrate: Mom, I’m about this much |   | scared and this much |                 | excited. Well, anyway, just in case, I want to have my blue watch on when I’m buried. And I want to wear a yellow tux.
    Note: He had just been in a wedding party, wearing a yellow tux.

Paul:  And be sure to bury my crutches, too—one on each side of me.

We’re driving along, on our way to Menchie’s for fro-yo, which Paul loves. He’s happy.

Paul:  I love you, mom.
Mom: You love fro-yo—and Annie, too.  You really do have a big heart.
Paul:  Works like a charm!

Paul loves to be spoiled and it seems a lot of people who meet him love to spoil him. Don’t ask me why. .  On this day, I was making the point that I spoil him, too—sometimes—so he responded -

Paul:  I love you, mom.
Mom: I love you, too, Paul.
Paul:  And I love Aileen Quinn.
Aileen Quinn, who played Annie in the 1982 movie, is another of Paul’s favorite people. Lately he’s been watching everything he can find about her.
Mom:  Aileen doesn’t spoil you.
Silence. . . Paul is thinking. . .
Paul:  She prob'ly would if she knew me.

Paul has suddenly revived his fascination with – and love for - Aileen Quinn, who played Annie in the movie years ago. He watches everything about her- current and past.

Paul:  I love Aileen Quinn. She’s the best Annie ever!
Mom: She’s a new one. How come I haven’t heard about her?
Paul:  I’ve loved her since 1982.
Mom:  So how come I’m just hearing about her now?
Paul:  I got distracted by Bridget.

(Paul and Bridget spent a lot of time together and almost got engaged years ago.)

Paul: Mom, I prayed for Samantha last night—that she can get through this alright. (His uncle, her grandfather, had recently died.)
Mom: That’s good, but you should pray for all of David’s family.

The next morning:

Paul: I prayed for all of Uncle David’s family last night. I said to put Samantha first.
Mom: Oh, Paul. You should pray for them all equally.

Two days later:

Paul: I prayed for all of Uncle David’s family, including Samantha.

The following week

Paul: I prayed for Uncle David’s family last night and said to put Samantha first.

Which just goes to show: you can’t tell Paul what to do!

Paul: So he has to have a catheter because he can’t produce urine because of the Parkinson’s
Mom: Yes, Paul.
Paul: He can’t direct it, either.

Ahead of us driving home, the sign on the rear of an Automobile Club car reads: “WE’RE WITH YOU ALWAYS” - AAA
Paul:  So is God.

Part of Paul’s nightly prayers consists of talking to friends and family and friends of friends and relatives of friends in heaven. Paul tells me what they’re doing up there and passes on any messages from them. Yesterday Paul suddenly looked up from the table where he was drawing a picture for a friend and said excitedly,

Paul:  Mom! Jesus must have big arms!
Mom: Why?
Paul:  To hold all those people in heaven!

Paul is sitting on the edge of his bed, feet on the floor.

Mom: Remember, you need to keep your legs moving since you haven’t been able to go to swim during this virus thing.
Paul: They're moving.
Mom: Doesn’t look like it to me.
Paul: They’re moving.
Mom: Look at them. They’re not moving.
Paul, with a grin: They’re moving out.

Paul: The weird screen came up again.
Mom: This is what you do, so you won't have to call me:
         Get the remote and toggle down to the last option.
         Press "Select." That will get you back to your program.
Mom: So now you know what to do if that funny screen comes on, right?
Paul: Laugh.

During the coronavirus pandemic stay at home months –
    Mom: Now that we can't get haircuts any more, your hair's getting wavy.
    Paul: It's waving "hi."

 Paul takes a muscle relaxant, Baclofen, to prevent spasms. Alcohol is a no-no when taking Baclofen, so Paul has to refuse the wine at communion.

Paul: They should just have the communion host and not have wine. 
Mom: Why? Do you not like refusing the wine?
Paul: Yes. They shouldn't have wine.
Mom:  Paul, at the Last Supper Jesus offered both—his body, the host, and his blood, the wine.
Paul: Mom, they didn't have baclofen back then.

Paul: Why did you say that?
Mom: I was calling your bluff. 
Paul: Bluff's not on my phone.

Paul is feeling flush with cash from his birthday money –

Mom: I'm going grocery shopping now. 
Paul: Why do you have to go grocery shopping?
Mom: Because we're out of just about everything.
Paul: Like what?
Mom: For one thing, bread. We're completely out of bread.
Paul: There's bread in my wallet!

Mom, telling Paul the joke of the day: "What do the planets read?"
Paul: What?
Mom: "Comet books."
Paul: What does Jesus do?
Mom: He loves us. 
Paul: Who loves Jesus the most?
Mom: You do.
Paul: I love Jesus.

Paul loves his Starbucks iced decaf mocha lattes so much I had to place a limit: one a day: a grande on Tuesdays & Fridays; talls on the other days.

Paul: Tell Bryan [his brother] to take me to lunch Sunday.
Mom: Bryan's a grown-up. Parents can't tell their kids what to do when they're grown up.
Paul: Good. Then I can have two mochas tomorrow.

Paul: Why aren't there any prayer gardens in El Cajon? If I were in charge of El Cajon, I would have prayer gardens everywhere on the grass, with prayer altars, walkways, waterfalls and benches and statues.
Mom: The city can't put prayer gardens anywhere.
Paul: Why not?
Mom: The government's not allowed to take part in anything religious.   
Paul: Why not?
Mom: There are all different religions and the government can't favor any one of them. There are Christians, Muslims, Seventh Day Adventists and Jews and many others.
Paul: Well . . . They all love God, don't they?
Paul: There could be a Jewish part and a Muslim section and part of the garden for everyone. And they could be all over El Cajon.

Couple of days ago -
Mom: Look, Paul. The bank parking lot's empty. Looks like the bank is closed.
Mom: Oh yes, it's a holiday. I don't remember which one. It's not President's Day—that's in February. . .
Mom: Do you know what holiday it is?
Paul: It's Banks Closed Day.

Paul had his gallbladder removed two years ago and at that time the doctor explained that sometimes gallstones move and end up in the wrong place, causing pain. So Paul being Paul, hasn't rested, not knowing why they were moving around. His mind is now at rest. . .

Paul: I figured out why my gallstones were moving.
Mom: You did? Why were they moving?
Paul: They were dancing.

The upside of being Paul's mom -

Mom: I have a doctor appointment this afternoon.
Paul: Why are you going to the doctor? 
Mom: He's going to check me out—it's just a regular checkup.
Paul: You don't need to go to the doctor. I already checked you out—you're beautiful. You're the most beautiful mother in the world. You don't need anyone to check you out.

Paul, after a radio announcement of suicides in the U.S.: Why would anyone commit suicide?  
Mom: I don't know. Some people have a really hard time in their life and maybe they feel like they just can't face another day.

Silence. . .

Paul: My life is awesome.

Mom: Did something fall out of your wallet? It doesn't feel as fat as usual.
Paul: It must've gone to Weight Watchers.

Background: Paul is still considering whether he has Asperger's syndrome. He says CP is enough but he's beginning to understand that his focus and constant repetitions of his favorite things to say are fairly typical Asperger's traits.
We were leaving after Mass last Sunday. The gospel was John's, the one in which Jesus asked Peter if he loved him – three times.

Paul: You know how much I love Jesus.
Mom: Yes, I do.
A brief pause -
Paul: I think Jesus has Asperger's.
Mom: Why do you think he has Asperger's?
Paul: Because he kept asking Peter, "Do you love me?"

Mom: We have to stop at Dixieline. I need to get some bark.
Paul: Why do you need bark?
Mom: I got some, but Marcelino used it all in the back. I wanted some for the front yard.
Paul: Oh. Get a dog. He'll give you bark.

Paul: You're the prettiest mom in the world.
Mom: Thank you, Paul. You just think so.
Paul: I know so. And you have a cute little nose—just like Grandma's. Christy has a cute little nose, too.

TWO DAYS LATER—Dionne Warwick's name comes up on the Sirius screen.
Paul: Dionne Warwick—she's Whitney Houston's aunt.
Mom: I guess good singing runs in their family.

Paul, smirking: Just like cute noses run in our family.

For the past year or so, ‘most every time we pull up in our driveway, the conversation goes like this:

Paul: We should make a prayer garden here—with statues and a waterfall and walkways and benches.
Mom: Who would pray there? I don't think people would pray in our front yard. Where do you pray? Would you pray here?
Paul: I pray in my bed. But we should put a prayer garden here.
Mom: Why?

One day, Paul looked at me:           
Paul: Mom, don't you want people to know you love God?

Christy: Mom! I have a new Paul-ism!
    Christy: Paul, is your nose running?
    Paul: No, it's walking.
Christy: Mom, it isn't so much what he says but he doesn't even stop to think. He just pops it out.

Paul had been waiting quite a while for a promised lunch with his brother and sister-in-law. This particular evening, Bryan called and said they'd be picking him up Sunday at 11:30 for lunch. That morning Paul had come down with the flu but during the night, he woke up and said he felt a lot better. The next morning he was fine.

Mom: I never saw anyone get over the flu so fast.
Paul: I only had this much = of the flu.
Mom: You fought it off pretty well.
Paul: I think God knew Bryan was going to call and ask me to lunch so he got me well. He answered my prayers.

(Name changed to protect the innocent)
Paul, frowning:  I don't trust Zack.
Mom: Up, up, up! No negatives. Remember, be positive.
Paul: I positively don't trust Zack.

Paul: Mom! I need some help with my shorts.
Mom: What's the matter?
Paul: I'm trying to put my left leg in the hole but I can't.
Mom: Why not?
Paul: It's occupied.
Mom: What's occupied?
Paul: The left hole. My right leg's in it.

Paul: I love Selena Gomez with my WHOLE HEART!
Mom: With your WHOLE heart?
Paul: Yes.
Mom: That doesn't leave anything for Gwen Stefani and KISS and your brothers and sister and Kathy and Stephani Lee and Lupe and Felix and me… and everyone else.
Paul: I have a big heart.

Paul: Did you say your prayers?
Mom: Yes.
Paul: What did you pray for?
Mom: I was doing "listening prayers."
Paul: What did God tell you?
Mom: God told me I can't make everything right for everyone.
Paul: Well I could have told you that!
Mom: But why not?
Paul: Because no one's perfect.
Mom: But I try and I want to make things right and I get so frustrated.
Paul: Well it's not gonna work. You're never gonna make everything right.
Mom: Why not?
Paul:  Because nobody's perfect—except for God.

How it was that Paul said, "I hate having CP."

It was 5 o'clock in the morning. Paul called to me. He was having spasms.
When I asked how long they'd been going on, he said since he went to bed at one o'clock—in his legs and on both sides of his neck. And his legs and feet had been shaking and scissoring and that's when he said, "I hate having CP."
It struck me that he never says that. He asks why all the time—how come he has CP, but he never complains.
He lives with this daily—and nightly. The shaking and scissoring usually happen in bed at night. The spasms happen whenever the muscle relaxant he takes four times a day isn't enough to prevent them, or when it's cold or when it's rainy or...
And yes, the spasms are painful.

So I thought you should know, because you love Paul's observations about life and he sounds like a happy fellow, and he is, but like us, he has challenges, frustrations, and sometimes pain, in his life.

Paul's longtime friend Erik Slavens responds
Pablo's always been a really strong person thats taken everything thrown at him and faced it head on, not allowing it to control his approach and outlook on life! Because of that, it's very easy for most of us to overlook many of the physical issues he has to deal with on a daily basis. You keep fighting the good fight, buddy and you're also blessed with an amazing support system surrounding you.

Sheila – Erik, by the way, introduced Paul to the joys of being a KISS fan 41 years ago. A good way to get his frustrations out and he loves their rowdiness, wild make-up and their showmanship.  Thanks, Erik - I think..

Paul:  I hate having CP.
Food for thought. More to come next week...

Paul: Uncle Frank's going to get better. He's stubborn, Mom. He's a stubborn ol' Polack.
     After praying day and night for Uncle Frank, he visited him for a second time in the hospital and this time he came
     home stressed and troubled. Late that night he said he was okay with it now; he was going to ask God to take Frank
     to heaven so he wouldn't suffer any more.  
     The next day and the day after, Paul kept asking: "How come God hasn't answered my prayers?"
Paul: Maybe God's still preparing his mansion.
     Two days later, Uncle Frank passed away.
     Five days later,
Paul: I think God just wasn't cooperating. 

Paul:  Look! I have two new freckles on my knee.
Mom:  Where'd they come from?
Paul:  That's where Jesus kissed me.

Paul: Do you think Samantha will get married?
Mom: She's only nine years old.
Paul: When she grows up. Do you think she'll get married?
Mom: Probably - or maybe she'll stay single, or become a nun, or maybe if the church allows it by then, she'll be a priest.
  Short pause
Paul: Father Samantha.

Paul: Why does Dr. Tarantino keep bugging me about having a colonoscopy?
Mom: That's what they have to do - partly for the insurance to pay them.
Paul: Looks down at the church bulletin in front of him: Did Jesus have a colonoscopy?
Mom: I don't think so. Why? Would you have one if Jesus had one?
Paul: Nope!
A few minutes later, Paul, very quietly: If Jesus told me to I would.

Mom, trying to get Paul to get in the car faster: C'mon, Paul, hurry up. It's hot out here.  
Paul:  Sister Yvonne had a favorite word and that word was "NOW."

  Note: Paul sleeps with a CPAP device every night.
Mom: Are you awake?
Paul: Yes. My CPAP's awake, too.

Paul:  Samantha says her prayers every night and she prays during the day, too.   
Mom: Did you ask her if she prays in the daytime?
Paul:  Yes.
Mom:  Why?
Paul:  Because. You have to pray in the daytime.
Mom: O-o-kay. Why do you have to pray in the daytime?
Paul:  Because something hard might happen and Jesus will help you get through it.

Mom: "You're razor's dying."
Paul: "Is that why you put it in the livingroom?"

Mom, worried the chilly air will start muscle spasms in Paul's legs. He's wearing shorts: "Shall I get a blanket to keep your muscles warm?"
Paul: "My muscles are warm. They're in my legs." (Chuckle, chuckle)

In a booth at Denny's, Mom: Is the sun in your eyes?
Paul: No, the daughter is.

Me (Mom) giving Paul my excuse for being late: I was praying.
Paul: How's Jesus doing up there?

Paul: Mom, the older you get, the prettier you are.
Me (Mom): Usually it's the opposite.
Paul: So. . .(big smile). . . the prettier you are, the older you get?

Paul's sister after being ignored by Paul: Paul! Do you have ears?
Paul: What do you think's holding my glasses up?

Paul: I love you, Mom.
Me: You love everything, Paul.
Paul: I love iced tea.
Me.: Better than me?
Paul: Iced tea didn't give me birth.
        Iced tea didn't sit with me every day in rehab.
        Iced tea doesn't take me to Starbucks.

Me, teasing Paul: "We gotta get you out of here."
Paul: "You can't. I'm like a boomerang. I keep coming back."

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