Work and Family

Things have been horrific at work.  Tremendous stress and upheaval, but despite it all, my children and family keep things in perspective.  I remember when I first heard the word “autism” and later read how those with this diagnosis tended toward anti-social behavior  I felt terribly sad.  Sad because I thought at the time it meant that Emma would miss out on the things that have made my life most meaningful.  My happiest moments have all been with my family, my favorite memories are all involving family and friends.  But so are Emma’s.  She still asks to go back to California to – “Uncle Andy’s wedding.”  When we’ve told her he won’t be getting married again or at least everyone hopes this to be the case, she says -“Go to California.  Andy’s wedding again?”

We’ve tried to explain that weddings are unusual celebrations, not the sort of thing one does every few years, at least for most of us.  But nothing we say fazes her.  She had such a wonderful time in Napa Valley at my brother Andy’s wedding, she wants to go back, be among my extended family.

My fondest childhood memories are of coming out to Aspen to visit my grandmother.  Her house was brimming with relatives, her brother, my Great Uncle Paul, a number of his children would come for tea every afternoon after skiing.  She had dinner parties, more relatives would descend and close friends were called, “Aunt” and “Uncle” even if they weren’t technically speaking.  The smells of cooking, burst forth from the kitchen, the upstairs always had the distinct smell of moth balls.  I loved going up to her attic and rummaging about through enormous steamer trunks filled with clothing and photographs from another time.

Emma is like me in this way.  She has a phenomenal memory and it is always about people and family that she refers to when she is recalling something she wants to do again from the past.  “Go back to Cape Cod” is one of her more recent requests.  Every summer Richard and I used to go to North Trurro.  We always had friends come and join us, a kind of revolving door of people – there was Kat and Randy, Christian and his girlfriend at the time, Anna.  Emma asks for these people by name, she hasn’t forgotten any of them.

So when things become difficult with work, problems arise, no matter how dire things can seem, it is my family who always bring things back into perspective.

For more on Emma’s journey through a childhood of autism, go to:

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