Wednesday, July 6, 2011


When I was growing up, my mom frequently bought copies of the magazines Family Circle and Woman’s Day at the grocery store. An avid magazine reader, I would pore over the articles, tips, and recipes in these colorful magazines, but I also remember enjoying a feature in Woman’s Day called “Lifesavors.” A quick Google search this week informed me that Kathryn Swarthout wrote this feature, which she describes on her website as “free-form poetry,” for more than twenty years. As I recall, her writing consisted of lists of common, yet often overlooked, pleasures in life described in vivid imagery, such as an ice cold glass of lemonade on a hot summer day or the sound of ocean waves crashing against the shoreline. Life with autism has taught me to appreciate and savor the simple joys in life that often catch me by surprise.

For me, life savors would include sounds and sights I associate with Alex, such as the following:

the rush of water as Alex flushes the toilet, a reminder of relief that he finally learned how to use the bathroom independently;

the melody of Alex’s laughter at something that he finds genuinely amusing, especially when he and Ed are sharing a joke;

watching Alex sway, uninhibited, when he hears music he loves, whether it be jazz, country, or some nondescript instrumental tune played on our cable weather channel; or

seeing the light in Alex’s dark eyes when he’s enjoying doing something, often accompanied by a smile that spreads across his face.

For Alex, some of the things he savors in life include the following activities:

going to the local arcade to play Deal or No Deal, always choosing "No Deal" to make the game last as long as possible;

finding a comfortable spot to read one of his beloved books;

spending time along the beach at the Indiana Dunes, writing in the sand;

playing basketball with Daddy at the playground;

or taking photographs of flowers in the park with Daddy.

Although autism has made our family life untypical, we have learned to savor those things that are typical, the everyday joys which take us by surprise and make us realize that often simple and spontaneous have more to offer than complex and planned. These moments of contentment bring Alex happiness, which blesses us and makes us happy, as well.

"Yes, the Lord has done amazing things for us! What joy!" Psalm 126:3

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