WWMD –What Would Matthew Do?


Or, “What would Matthew do?”

Most people are familiar with the slogan WWJD (What would Jesus Do?) and many of my friends use this as a great moral code for their lives. I like it. It’s a good pause before doing or saying something really dumb.

View from the top!

This summer though, I have been thinking on a different line. Matthew and I have been here in the mountains alone during the week and we, meaning I, have been up on ladders painting, cleaning etc.  It may be a little house but there always is plenty of upkeep. Remembering that no one ever called me Grace, sometimes what I do is, well, a little precarious. It takes a whole lot of angels to hold me up on those steep extension ladders.

And so I have been thinking, “What would Matthew do?” What would he do if I fell or was severely injured?

It’s a scary thought for me, often haunting the back of my mind. Those who know Matthew know and regular readers likely have gleaned that he does not talk. Even though he is very caring he shares many of the frightening autistic traits including introspection. He lives in his own little world. If the TV is on, if there is food available and if his computer runs, he is content. No doubt, visitors to our house have seen Matthew come to share news of something exciting on television or to show a great find in his TV Guide. But he only shares things of interest, convincing him to do something else, well, that’s a bigger challenge.

So would he come just to check on someone? I’m not sure. I know if I was conscious I could count on Matthew to seek out the phone but what if he couldn’t find my phone? (Yeah, a common occurrence in this house.) Would he walk down the road to Grandma’s by himself? If he did would he stand outside the gate because emotions are so intense that he can’t stand any extra attention?  (When Matthew sees someone he loves i.e. Grandpa or even Dad his first inclination is to run and hide only coming out after they call his name. Strong emotions are very difficult for him to handle.)

Computer AND TV in one spot. Life is good!

Computer AND TV in one spot. Life is good!

Are we any different from so many of our caregiver friends? Or those who live alone? Am I just whining too much as usual?  There is no doubt we are fortunate in that Matthew’s brain injuries came with birth allowing us to adapt and accept with him over time. We see daily the television commercials with the wounded warrior veterans whose severe injuries caused swift change and upheaval for the families. We can’t imagine their trials. We also know we are lucky that Matthew’s problems do not confine him to a wheelchair and that he can be mobile.  We are blessed to have this son. Our lives and our focus on what is important are so enriched because of him.

Still, as I get ready to put the ladder away having finished painting I have to wonder. WWMD?

PS Now dear friends, do not go into a panic that tomorrow morning I might fall off the ladder and be stuck there for days. Our folks live just down the hill and you can be assured they check up on us regularly. In fact, if we don’t check in by three o’clock the phone rings and I’d better answer it 🙂

4 thoughts on “WWMD –What Would Matthew Do?

  1. Hi Terry,
    You are an amazing woman with an amazing family who are blessed to share your world.

  2. Hi Terri & Bob,How our lives change over time.   I guess I always knew that Matthew was autistic but since I was not directly involved with him it was way in the back of my mind.  Mom would tell us of the various doctors you saw over the years and I knew that your family life was not “normal” compared to others.   Then retirement came to us and I became more of a computer connected person on social media.  Your blog has been very inspiring to me and I have learned a lot from you.  Then 3 years ago our grandson started school on the day after his mother, our daughter,  was taken to the hospital for an alcohol overdose.  Brady exhibited lots of problems in school that we had not diagnosed before this time.  I started checking out autism, aspergers syndrome and talked to counselors at his school when we met later in the year after changing schools and getting an IEP for him.  Was it just the home life he had been living in that was so private to the rest of us, as her husband covered up for her for fear of losing Brady to C.P.S.?   Michelle went to rehab after another overdose in January of his kindergarten year and the four grandparents from that point on have been his main caregivers and emotional anchors. She was in rehab until the following year in May when she moved into a 1 bd apartment and has been employed again ever since. She works four 10 hr days but occasionally gets 12 hr days and overtime. She is very involved in AA and her sponsor, is on medication and sees a councilor regularly too. Meanwhile Brady was moved into his paternal grandparents home and attends a public school that works closely with his doctor and councilor and grandparents.  He was diagnosed with ADHD and until this year we tried to work with other actions before putting him on medication to control his impulsivety and help him focus.  The change the teachers saw when he went on meds was fantastic! Since he is a highly intellegent child getting him to focus on one thing at a time seems to be the key.  Being an “only” child we first thought it was just “being spoiled” but have since learned that he is just “wired differently” and we need to do what works well for him and that at times is not easy.  We only give him the meds when he was in school and now have them on hand but haven’t used them over summer vacation.  His teachers are amazed at his outside knowlege of so many things.  He visits lots of interesting places with his dad’s parents and the comes to our house in the country where he picks up all kinds of different information.  Teachers say he is so fortunate to have so much opportunity through his grandparents actually more than most other kids have.  Of course that means being substitute “teachers” doing schoolwork with him at home so he doesn’t fall behind over the summer months too.   If Michelle is not available on weekends he comes to our house and now over summer,gets to come out for extended stays to give the other grandparents a break too.  Grandparents are  76, 74, 76 & 69 so the task of raising a grandchild with special needs is not an easy one for us either.  I follow a support page on Facebook and see what other parents go through and realize that it could be MUCH WORSE than it is for us.  We try not to worry about the future of this sweet 8 yr old but know God has a plan for him. Brady’s dad has some of the same characteristics and struggles with depression even after they got divorced over a year ago.  He and Michelle seem to get along better now than when they were married.  They have shared custody but have signed papers to give his parents authority to do everything for/with him.   Brady would be in foster care if it weren’t for the grandparents.   When we first got Michelle she had bacterial meningitis and we were told at 7 weeks there was no way of knowing what kind of disabilities she may have from it.  We chose to go through with the adoption knowing that this was the child God gave us.  Well, now he has given us Brady too and we plan to do our best to help him grow up well too.  We are amazed at his knowledge and love of God  but maybe that something the “special” kids understand better than the rest of us at that age. Each day is a challenge and an opportunity waiting to happen.  Just thought I’d share a bit of our life with you.Jan  Volunteers are love in motion!  ~Author Unknown

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