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Smile-breaks

From Paul

I’m bringing a new addition to Smile-breaks: 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 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.

EARLIER:
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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