An amazing thing happened when Ben was home. I was looking at his picture scrapbook with him (the same one that he used to flip through so rapidly you wondered if he was even looking at the pictures). This time was different though. He started at the very beginning (his birth picture)…and studied each page carefully for a long time. I talked to him about the relatives, and asked him who they were. These were people who were 50 years older now, or some had even gone on to be with the Lord. Those still with us look quite different now than they did in these 1960’s pictures. He named every one of them. I asked him about one of his grandpas…where was he now? Ben hesitated, then answered, “In heaven!” Same with his other grandparents and aunt and uncle. That impressed me, as we haven’t talked about that for several years. I asked him what Grandpa Fred used to play with him. He cocked his head in thought…then answered, “Iron claw!” My dad would shape his hand like a claw and say, “The iron-claw will get you.” Then he’d tickle Ben, and Ben LOVED it. That was when he was 2 or 3 years old. He is now almost 54. The “corker” though was when we came to the page of when we lived in Ft. Smith, AR, and Ben was about 9 years old. Our next-door neighbors had a swimming pool that they let all the neighbor kids come to every afternoon if at least one parent came with them. Ben loved going, and there were many “to-dos” about going swimming THAT VERY MINUTE when it wasn’t time to go yet. He had trouble with the passage of time, and very little patience about it all!
Anyway, while looking at the scrapbook, we came to a picture of the pool…with him in it with some other children. He studied it (again for a long time), and then pointed to a little head in the water and said, “Jennifer!” Sure enough, it was the little neighbor girl who was about 5 years younger than Ben…and he hadn’t seen her for over 40 years. Now THAT was remarkable. I wrote to her on Facebook and told her the story, and she replied, “That almost made me tear up…I didn’t know he would remember my name!” I told her, “He never forgets ANYTHING!” When we got to the page where he had to move away from home at age 13, he started turning the pages faster and faster…like that’s all he wanted to see. He didn’t want to delve into the hurtful times…only remember the good. Don’t we all feel that way sometimes? I know I do. I just want to take a stroll down memory lane, and nestle…comforted by some happy time in my life that brought me great joy. Those little trips seem to help rule out any heartbreak that may have occurred as an adult. Even with autism…Ben is no different!