We’ve always been a different family. Long before words like Autism entered our every day life my kids knew what it was like to have a ‘different’ mom than all the other kids.
I didn’t drive like most mommies. I took medicine…..I had seizures. My kids knew what to expect though, knew who to go to for help, and most of all knew that mommy would have a seizure, but she would eventually be alright.
I’ve dealt with (knowingly) Hydrocephalus and Epilepsy since birth. I’ve spent my life being sick and constantly being a slave to the limitations of my body. I’ve always believed in being an advocate though, and in empowering my children so that when they faced a scary situation…maybe it wasn’t so scary.
I married young…and divorced just as young. I wanted to be the parent to make it work, to allow the girls’ dad to have reasonable access, which put me on an Amtrak train from California to Texas one summer when the girls were 3 and 1 1/2. I’m glad I did it, as stressful as the trip was.
Years later the girls don’t see their father enough, and I hope that can change one day. I hadn’t planned on HOW stressful it would be on me health wise though, despite sticking to my medication regimen and trying to eat well. Maybe it was the time change…maybe it was the stress…maybe it was all of it.
My ex dropped me off at the train station and I boarded the train and waited….I started feeling dizzy, I knew I wasn’t feeling well, but I attributed it to the heat and asked for some water.
I alerted one of the passengers, a sweet, African-American grandmotherly type woman that “If something happened I have seizures…” and indicated my medical bracelet.
I really don’t remember much after that because that’s when the seizure hit. My last memory is of that woman moving my children out-of-the-way, to safety. I woke up in the ambulance, frantically looking for my children, who were of course safe and riding along.
I do remember that woman…..years later, and how grateful I was for her calming presence in that moment. She probably doesn’t think she did much, she probably doesn’t even remember doing it….but her act of kindness has stayed with me for decades.
My family looks a little different now, but I’m still teaching my kids the same things. No matter what you go through, people will be there…and it’s Okay. Mommy’s alright when she has a seizure, and you’ll all be alright too.
Now that I’m a mom in a wheelchair, people seem to be more willing to help me. It’s more obvious that something is different about our family….it’s more obvious that mom might need help ( and I’ve been lucky to find good people willing to help when I do need it).
You never know what life will throw at you, whether it’s a seizure on the Amtrak alone with 2 small children, or having brain surgery, being in a wheelchair and having 3 of the 4 members of your family carry an Autism diagnosis.
Take time to be grateful that others were there in your hour of need. Remember them…and next time you have a moment to be kind to someone, do it…you never know how our one act of kindness will shape someones life.
I hope someday, somehow that lady or her family sees this and knows that I remember.
Sara Oliver is a Mom with ASD – Autism spectrum disorder raising 3 kids on earth ( 2 on the ASD spectrum) and a Mama to 3 angel babies.