Friday 7 November 2014

Week 32 Last one from Grenada !

Friday November 7th 2014

Still in Grenada !

Well hey there !  Hello-again from Grenada! Yep, we are STILL here, surprised ?  Work is progressing on the decks, we should be done in "a week or two”! Yes, I realise that you have heard me say this before, welcome to Island time !  

Hanging with the Academia of Grenada.

This week we decided to break up the monotony of the boat by hanging out at the University Club.We found a lovely place in the shade of the almond trees where we do school, with only the occasional almond falling on on heads as distractions. In the afternoon we swim in their beautiful pool, have a bit of lunch, rent sea kayaks or play an afternoon game of “Boules” (Lawn bowling), it is all very civilized!

Typical School Day at St George University

Meg taking a paddling break with friends 

The pool at St Georges University Club where we did school 

Meg trying her luck at lawn bowling

School photo for 2014, Matthew  is 15 !
School Photo, Meg is 12 & in grade 7

Special Olympics, at St Georges University.

One of the unexpected benefits of hanging out at the University Club is that you end up meeting a few academic types (mostly professors), and that has been fun ! One morning we were approached by a lovely young man who told me that he was from London, and that he worked with kids with Aspergers/Autism and that the University (SGU) was having a Special Olympics Sports Day on Friday and that we were most welcome to join in the fun !

Matthew seemed to do best at soccer and golf. Meghan had a go with Cricket ( I made her promise not to compare it to Baseball, as this tends to make them a wee bit irate!). There was face painting, bubbles, art and sac races (this last event Matthew ran away from, he was NOT interested in getting any part of his body in a sac!). It was a good day! 

Autism, in a small world.

This chance meeting with all the great volunteers today reminds me of how I just love meeting people in the autism world. It is amazing how quickly we go from being complete strangers to being the best friends !  There is an instant recognition, an instant bonding which happens, like nothing has to be explained. It’s an immediate comfort with one another as we share the same world, we just know. 

It has happened a few times in our travels in the last seven month: 

Once, while in the BVI’s,, we were walking towards a restaurant just as the sun was disappearing at the horizon and I saw a woman, about 10-15 years older than me sitting on her own. She had brought a chair from the restaurant and was looking out at the sea. She had a peaceful yet distant look in her eyes. When she saw us approaching.....she suddenly seemed to be pulled out of her reverie,  looking at us, at Matthew, intently as we walked by, She reached out to me; “Excuse me. Oh, oh.....your son... Oh....” She seemed quite moved and so I went to see her (as Mark and the kids made their way to the restaurant). she continued : “Oh, your son, he reminds me so much of my son, the son, I used to have....”  I kneeled down beside her. She and I did not need to say much more, we understood each other instantly, never needing to mention the word “autism”, we smiled at each other as she kept talking:  “ Oh he had all the same mannerism as him and he looks so similar”  She went on to tell me about him. The love she had for him was obvious and her pain at loosing him (I did not ask her details on how he had died, but she did tell me that he was an adult when it happened). I could have stayed with this lady on the beach all night, our hearts were instantly connected. 

Another time, while visiting some waterfalls in Grenada, Matthew and I were sitting on a rock, waiting for our group to join us when a lovely woman suddenly appeared holding a balloon, she came right up to him and held the balloon up close to him, with such ease and comfort,  exactly how I would of done it. It was no surprise to me when she told me that she had a son with autism too. I loved her immediately. 

Then again; when we were visiting a house with a room to rent (back in July), and the owner of the house, within ONE SECOND of seeing Matthew (he had JUST stepped out of the car) said “ Oh! He has autism!” and I thought to myself : “Are you some kind of psychic lady” ? (I mean, it’s not like its written on his forehead after all, and it usually takes people a minute or two), but she had became all emotional and could not speak for a few minutes, when she regained her composure she told us of her son (now grown) who had autism, and again, we all felt an immediate comfort in her presence. 

It warms my heart that after 4 months on this island, it often happens that we hear people calling out :  Hi Matthew !” , as we walk by. Matthew has been recognized accepted and cherished for his differences by so many here !  In the restaurant the other night, a man came up (neither Meg, Mark or I remembered meeting him) but he came right up to Matthew and said hi to him, and said to us "He is a good boy, I remember him, a good boy”, and then he went on to teach Matthew how to shake hands like a true Islander, it made Matthew smile from ear to ear. 

A few months ago, when we were anchored out at the South end of the Island, we used to walk by a house on our way to volleyball, and there was a boy there, about Matthew's age, who would come running out to greet us every time. It became clear that this boy had a mind very similar to Matthews. He could not care less about anyone else walking by....but was absolutely MESMERIZED by Matthew. He would follow him and try to get his attention by squealing and giving him gifts (flowers or fruit he picked). It is like if he instantly recognized a kindred spirit in Matthew. It was something to behold !  He would not acknowledge me or anyone else who would ask him questions, all he wanted was Matthew’s attention. Eventually he did accept to tell me his name, when I told him Matthew wanted to know; “Jade” That is the only time  he ever spoke to me....but he followed us every time we walked by.  A few days ago we found ourselves on the same road, and as we walked by, almost two months after the last time we had been there, sure enough, all of a sudden we heard a call from the  house: "HI ! HI MATTHEW!  HI MATTHEW !  MATTHEW !  HI !” ...“BYE MATTHEW  !” 

So, as we wait for another “week or two” to come and go, we really are getting ready to go soon, we have friends “waiting” for us to join them in Bonaire and we look forward to feeling the wind in our sails again, soon! Good Bye Grenada !

St Georges University Campus
Matthew gets a high five from a volunteer at the special Olympics

Meg learning how to play cricket

Special Olympics, St Georges University

Matthew turns 15 ! 

Our dear friends from SV Rafiki

Hiking up in the National Park

Some hikes were a little more adventurous ! 

1 comment:

  1. The Matthew stories touched our hearts anchor deep! Wonderful! Absolutely wonderful! Please keep sharing �� xoxoxo