I didn’t know what to do. Vernon’s boys had only visited my apartment a couple of times. I had put all breakables away when they came for safe keeping so I wasn’t sure how they would act in our new home. We had just settled in and things were still in disarray, but the pathways were clear so Trent could scoot about and Dalton could find the remote, so I figured we were okay.
Moving day was the day after Thanksgiving in 2003, so we put up our Christmas tree right away. Not sure how to proceed, I sat the tiny tree upon a rather tall table. None of the ornaments were breakable so I thought we would be safe.
We carted in all the equipment that goes with two disabled children from the car and piled it in the den. I sat Trent down on the floor and smiled as Tillie (my rambunctious toy Maltese) inspected his face, washing it with her pink tongue. He grinned, began his little frog sounds and hopped away to inspect the rest of the house. He seemed to find peace in the quieter, out-of-the-way spots, and preferred to keep to himself.
I heard the front screen door close and headed back to the living room doorway to encounter Dalton. A definite aura of reverence came over Dalton’s countenance when he entered the living room and saw the small green evergreen, covered in red and gold ornaments with an angel beaming from the top branches. He proceeded slowly across the room to the Christmas tree and paused in front of it with his hands folded as if in prayer.
Few heavenly hosts could compete as his clear bell-tones rang out, tolling the notes of “Joy to the World”. I hardly noticed that the words were indistinguishable as I caught the holy worship in his tone and the set of his shoulders.
Dalton looked up at me for approval and touched my cheek with one hand as if to ask me to join him in his song. Through my tears I sang the words to “Joy to the World” although I knew the words made no difference at all.
This serenade was just another innocent gift that I will always cherish and ponder in my heart. Yet my lessons were only just beginning. I dried my eyes and followed the sounds I could hear coming from around the corner and down the hallway.
I peeked around the corner to see Trent, face composed in his studious frown, in full swing, lecturing the dozens of videotapes that we had stacked in rows on shallow shelves from floor to ceiling. The occupants before us had walled up a linen closet, leaving just enough space for row upon row of videocassettes. You’d think the tapes were hot or sticky, the way he delicately lifted each one by a corner, swinging it deftly, sort of weighing and “measuring” it for some mysterious reason only he could fathom. He would lift one tape from the shelf with his left hand and place it, swinging it gently, behind him to the left. Then he’d rise to his knees and reach for another with his right hand, repeating the sequence, hefting the tape as he lay it behind him to the right.
This process fascinated me. Trent would concentrate, very serious, just jabbering at the tapes, excited to have managed to get this far in his little army of destruction. I left him to his industry, not about to get in the way or to stop him. Once again I had something to ponder. Was he upset with me? Did he love the confusion of the pile of tapes all over the floor? He seemed extremely proud of himself as he reached higher and higher up the shelves. Maybe this was a project that delighted him, designed to show his prowess or his endurance. I knew one thing for sure, though. In this rickety old house with its creaky floors and drafty halls, I had discovered a young mind that fascinated me. A tender heart that humbled me with its reverence. And I was totally and hopelessly in love.
Trent is a my husband’s son, a young man who weighs about 40 lbs. He doesn’t speak, although he’s extremely expressive. He doesn’t walk, doesn’t eat and his activities are pretty limited. He conquers the world in spite of cerebral palsy, mental retardation, aphasia, asthma, a feeding tube, incontinence, and a myriad of other disabilities almost since birth. You wouldn’t know that Trent is soon going, Lord willing, to celebrate his 22nd birthday. Yet I’ve been so very blessed to have known him since 2003. And this is the story of the day my life changed–when I met Trent.
Dalton is Trent’s younger brother. Dalton is now almost 20 years old; he weighs about 125 lbs and blossoms daily in his own beautiful autistic world of wonder. He can walk and at times run, he’s a whiz with a TV remote, but neither speaks nor hears very well. He’s severely retarded, also aphasiatic and incontinent, but otherwise sees the world through brilliant eyes. At the time we met, he was 11 and Trent was 12.
© 2012 His Kid, Inc.