By popular demand, I'm going to resume some vignettes of Life with Walker...or Walker Stories as I've called them through the years.
Day to day, life with Walker is pretty routine now. He behaves like an older adolescent, mostly cooperative, diligent about his chores almost to obsession...we must not stay out too late on Sunday nights because he has to get home to get the garbage out. He's increasingly more interactive with the family without too many outbursts or frustrations. He knows I'm compulsively on time, and after getting left behind for not being ready a time or two, he's always on time too. He prefers fixing his own breakfast on weekdays, but occasionally requests for me to cook an egg if I'm not busy. (Our attempts to teach him to use the stove top haven't been totally successful, although he's good with the oven or microwave.) He prefers breakfast treats on the weekends and dinner that doesn't include leftovers two nights in a row.
Walker's independence is both a blessing and a curse. He sometimes tries to solve problems beyond his abilities and is often reluctant to ask directly for help when he really needs it. We're working on that. For a number of years now we have felt comfortable leaving him home for periods of time now extending up to six or seven days at a time. This requires a good bit of planning. He has a paid Personal Attendant (your tax dollars at work) who takes him to and from work and on outings on weekends which usually involve shopping, movies, bowling, or Young Life or other Special Needs activities. As long as the attendant is a reliable sort things work smoothly...but there's always the worry that he'll oversleep or even forget...and the guy we have right now is actually not as reliable as Walker. Walker's sisters are generally on call to pick up the slack. I leave microwavable meals for him, and he can pick up food at the grocery where he works or on the way home if he gets sick of what I've left...It mostly works fine.
My biggest concern for his safety is a major emergency....ice or wind storms, a fire, or, heaven forbid, a home invasion. We have gone over plans, but I honestly don't know how confident I am that he would follow through with them in a real emergency. In my nightmares I see him confronting an intruder with a toy gun and getting shot. That's the reality of life in the city with a developmentally delayed adult. As long as everything goes smoothly, he's totally okay...but do things ever always go smoothly?
Last week while we were in California, the weather turned frigid...like single digit frigid. My son-in-law John was drafted to help out with the hunting dogs in the kennel to make sure the heaters were working and make sure Walker braved the drizzle for the nighttime feeding. One morning John stopped by and thought he'd give the dogs some extra rations because of the extreme cold, and in the process set off the burglar alarm. John went to the foot of the stairs and called up to Walker while the siren was blasting.
"I'm not here."
"I'm not here!"
"Walker, What's the Alarm code?"
Walker appears on the balcony in his boxers, "I told you, I'M NOT HERE!
"Walker, I can see you..."
"Okay..."and he gave John the code, but not in time to ward off the alarm company sending the police, so John waited around and talked his way out of getting hauled off as an intruder...but that's how it goes with Walker sometimes.
I'm sure some of you wonder why in the world I don't just let the state pay for a sitter to be with him when we travel, and believe me, I have considered it. But truthfully, Walker doesn't want anyone else here, and I'm confident that the odds of him being safe are good enough that I don't think it's worth the hassle of having someone else in the house.I'm truly grateful that he's as independent as he can possibly be, and he has folks who love and watch over him. I hope and pray I'm right.