My son Eric is autistic. He is also cognitively delayed and has severe anxiety disorders. Eric has been to hell and back the last few years due to his anxiety, hospitalised more than once. But even when his anxiety was at its worst, several times a day, each and everyday, Eric would grab your attention and ask ''Eric hug Mickey? Mickey hold Eric's hand?''. He always held fast to his dream. My heart broke every time, because it was a dream I knew I could not make come true. As Eric's twenty first birthday approached I was determined to find a way to make it a reality. Friends, relatives and people who follow my blog all took on the cause. Every one wanting Eric to have his dream come true. Among the wonderful suggestions was hiring someone to dress as Mickey and attend Eric's party.
My 83 year old mother had a terrible fall just 3 weeks before Eric's birthday. She broke her shoulder in several places and her finger on her other hand. Her overall health deteriorated rapidly. She was in terrible shape and needed help with all aspects of care. My focus shifted from dreams of Mickey to making sure Mum had what she needed and arranging things with my siblings.
But my Mum is a trooper, who stunned doctors and all of her children. She is regaining her strength and a week before Eric's birthday I was able to go ahead and make plans for the party.
I researched and contacted many costume rental and entertainer companies. Those that bothered to return my call were quite expensive, had sub-par costumes, or weren't amenable to working a party for an adult. The rest had nothing available on such short notice.
It seemed as if the world was determined that my monkey would not get his dream.
With 6 days to go I tried one more place. Something just told me, try one me time. So I contacted the
Party Kingdom and I got an answer right away! YES they had Mickey and Minnie, and YES either one was available to rent. I talked to my eldest son and he agreed to help Mickey take form. He even practised his Mickey voice. I started to allow myself to believe that my monkey's dream really might come true. I quickly booked the costumes and explained why this was such a big deal. Cathy, who runs Party Kingdom out of her own home wrote back. Her son's best friend , who often assists with the business, has two teen-aged severely autistic siblings. Cathy regularly donates use of her costumes to a local centre for children with varying disabilities and challenges ( Erinoak) and insisted I take both Mickey AND Minnie, at a much too reasonable rate. Tears poured down onto my keyboard as I wrote to thank her. I was getting excited, this really could come true!! I convinced my my niece Sara to take on the Minnie roll, and delayed the party by one week to allow everyone the opportunity to make arrangements and be able to come. The excitement was palpable. Followers of my blog started messaging me telling me how excited they were for Eric, and Cathy from Party Kingdom and I chatted many times, both of us so excited about the special day to come.
Three days before the party city workers arrived and tore up the sidewalk in front of my house. How would anyone be able to get in? But my family is awesome and sincere offers to carry those into the house who couldn't navigate the torn up sidewalk poured in.
I scrubbed and cleaned, and I ordered trays of food so I could enjoy the party instead of being in the kitchen.
I spent the whole night awake worrying SOMETHING was going to ruin things.
Early in the morning on the day of the party I went to pick up the costumes. Cathy and I had a wonderful long talk about autism and I promised to send her pictures. I drove off, wishing I had given her a big hug and went to pick up the trays and the massive Mickey Mouse birthday cake.Then I carefully drove home, sure that somehow the cake would be ruined.
My other two sons helped me unpack while Eric bounced excitedly in the doorway. He now knew it was his BIRTHDAY!
Eric had no idea Mickey and Minnie were coming to see him, that was to be a surprise.
I set up the food, bathed Eric and helped him dress in his Spiderman costume (did I forget to mention? It was a SuperHero themed party!) then set about getting my granddaughter ready. But her costume no longer fit!!!!! Quickly I grabbed her ballerina costume and made her into Super Ballerina.
Another crisis averted.
With Eric dressed and playing on the computer in the bedroom, my granddaughter ready and colouring in the 'man-cave' with her father and my other son, I threw some chicken wings into the oven and jumped into the shower.
I bathed quickly and as I started to dry my hair I heard something.
A knock at the door?
I was just in my robe so I yelled down to the boys to answer the door. No response. I listened, but there wasn't another knock so I went back to getting ready.
All dressed I went downstairs and asked the boys who was at the door. Apparently they hadn't heard me and so had not checked. I opened the front door. No one at the door, but all my neighbours were lined up across the street. I guess I was in shock because I closed the door, checked on the wings and then looked out the window.
Yes, the whole neighbourhood was out front.
I went to the door again. There were fire trucks and police everywhere.
Gas Main leak.
We all had to run out of the house as fast as we could.
We were being evacuated.
ONE HOUR BEFORE THE PARTY.
All I managed to grab was my purse and Eric's medication.
I am no match for a 21 year old 200lb man dressed as Spiderman and if he tried to run the barricade, I'm sure the fireman would have had to tackle him.
I was terrified for my baby and horribly disheartened that we got to within one hour of his dream coming true only for it to be ripped away.
In hard times, peoples' true character really shine through. The Fire Chief came up to Eric right away and spoke to him as if he was a person (something most people do not do) ''Hey Spiderman!! We're working hard to fix it so you can go home soon''. He caught on to Eric's made up language and regularly came over to update me and chat with Eric. There was an entire neighbourhood in that small area, but it was Eric all the fireman and police were paying attention to. And GOOD attention. A police officer offered to get us a ride somewhere if that would help Eric, and also kept us in the loop. If all went well, we might be back into our home in an hour, but it could take all night.
I gave Eric some medication, did some pressure therapy with him, and when he was calm enough I took out my phone to let the party guests know it looked like there wouldn't be a party.
My family would have none of it, they were driving in from all parts of Southern Ontario and they were going to celebrate Eric's party even if that meant in a park or a parking lot.
But they couldn't get near us.
The whole area had been cordoned off, my sons and granddaughter and I stuck within that prison.
Why, oh why couldn't this simple dream come true.
Eric settled thanks to the medication, and two and a half hours after the party was supposed to start the police tape came down. We could go home. From the east, through the park came a niece, her husband and 2 little ones, from the north came another niece with her husband dressed as Captain America, their little ones plus one more, from the east again came one of my sisters, and then a nephew. Handsome Man called and he was stuck in traffic but nearly here. Ditto with my mom!
The firemen came over, laughed with us and wished Spiderman a happy birthday.
Apparently, when I had told the chief that we were expecting family from quite some distance he had gone himself to see if they were waiting outside the boundaries. He found them (easy to do when one is dressed as Captain America) and kept them updated and entertained.
Everyone hugged and went inside.
Now normally when we have a family get together, Eric likes to remain in his room. He'll come down for presents, then head back up.
Eric remained with the family for the whole party! We laughed, we ate, we had cake and presents, and then........
Mickey and Minnie came down the stairs.
Eric was in shock.
He couldn't move or utter a sound.
I am sure that he actually thought he was dreaming.
I suggested Eric get up and give Mickey a hug. There wasn't a dry eye in the place. Eric was so gentle with Mickey and Minnie. Hugging them, softly holding their hands, showing them his presents.
Someone suggested we go outside to take pictures. Eric carefully guided Mickey and Minnie across the street to the park. He sat with them on a low wall and ever so gently caressed their faces, held their hands, and gave them kisses. It was the most beautiful thing to see.
So you see, even when the city tears up a sidewalk and a gas main bursts, when the heart wants something so simple and beautiful, there is nothing that can stop the dream. Meeting Mickey and Minnie may have been Eric's birthday surprise, but seeing my son so happy was the greatest gift any mother could receive!
Dreams really do come true
|Nana's face reflects the joy in EVERYONE'S heart this day!|
|Opstacle? Nah, a PHOTO OP!|
|kisses for Mickey|
|Who says being evacuated ruins a birthday party? We Pollard's can have fun ANYWHERE!|
|This is what it looks like when a dream comes true!|