Life Does Go On

Charlie at the end of a school day at his middle school After Charlie was diagnosed with autism over 10 years ago, we thought everything had to be autism autism autism Charlie Charlie Charlie. In many ways, Jim’s and my life has been just that ever since; certainly when Charlie’s had trouble on the level of the past few months/past year at school, every last bit of our energies and emotions are absorbed.

But somehow, life outside/beyond/along with/other than advocating for Charlie/learning everything we possibly can about autism,
IDEA, services, programs, treatments, ways to deal with “problem behaviors“—somehow, life does go on.

Charlie woke up around 3 or 4 am (can’t clearly remember) on Friday. “Clothes on. School,” Jim and I heard him say and explaining that school wasn’t yet open (and wouldn’t be for a couple of hours) was not so easy, especially from 3 – 6 am, especially as Jim and I had gone to bed at 2.30am, because Jim had spoken to a big crowd at the
Tenement Museum in New York city on Thursday night and gotten home really really, as in really really late.

(And after an afternoon doing this and that and going here and there with Charlie, I was preparing Friday’s classes on religion from an archaeological perspective, Latin poetry, and “how to give an oral presentation.”)

By 6.15am Charlie, unable to sleep—we figured he’d woken so early wanting to go to school; Charlie, aware that he is soon going to a new school and not at all sure what to think about this, has become ultra-determined to get himself to his current school soon as he wakes up—was not your proverbial happy camper. Parents who’ve had a few hours of sporadic sleep are most likely not going to be in tip-top form to deal with any issues so that “muddle, muddle through it” becomes the strategy of choice (of necessity): Suffice it to say, we were able to convince Charlie that lying down for a little shut-eye on his bed would be ok, and I emailed his teacher to explain that we’d be dropping him off a little late. And boiled the water for coffee.

Jim ran off to catch a train to meet students and Charlie got himself up by 7.35am and was at school by 8am. I drove to Jersey City, discovered our car had almost no gas, and, while I was getting the gas, discovered that Jim was still on the train because some bridge in Kearney in the Meadowlands was up. I got into my office and sat down for a few minutes before launching myself into three classes and a string of appointments and some reminders that I needed to meet certain deadlines. Jim made it into New York, eventually, met with a few students, and raced back to get our car from my college parking lot and pick up Charlie, take him on a bike ride, and then pick me up in Jersey City.

And Jim shared these two articles with me, a
review in America Magazine of his “glorious book” (I’m not only a proud mother, I’m a proud wife):

Fisher, a professor of theology and American studies at Fordham University, has spent more than a decade studying the culture, history and soul of the docks and piers that once lined the West Side of Manhattan and the riverfront of Jersey City and Hoboken. He also has researched the making of the film and the controversies it touched off long before it appeared in theaters in 1954. As a result, Fisher probably knows more about the waterfront than any living person who has not—as I assume he hasn’t, although one never knows—stood in line at a shape-up.

Jim also shared this
story in the Irish Echo about his appearance at the Tenement Museum:

October 21, 2009 James T. Fisher spent 11 years working on his book “On the Irish Waterfront: the Crusader, the Movie and the Soul of the Port of New York.”

He spent some of that time researching the story by looking at documents in archives, reading newspaper and magazine accounts from the 1940s and ’50s, and listening to audio recordings of important players. He also had long conversations with his friend Budd Schulberg, who died on Aug. 5, and interviewed dozens more.

Through those years, too, the Fordham professor and his wife Kristina Chew, a fellow academic, spent much of their time caring for their autistic son Charlie, who is now 12.

Our lives are, have been, and will be centered on Charlie. And life goes on, always better, richer, as full of possibilities as ever, with one—thanks to our—very special boy.

3 Responses to “Life Does Go On”
  1. VAB says:

    It’s nice to see Jim getting some write up. It will be nice to hear about you guys also getting some sleep.
    We always just let our guy stay up really late. Now he’s a teenager, his sleeping habits are becoming typical for the first time (he even sleeps in in the mornings sometimes).

  2. autismvox says:

    we all slept in today……

  3. Bonnie says:

    I can so relate to finally realizing that you want to see a movie more for yourself than your kid! We just went through that with Toy Story and Toy Story 2 being on for a limited engagement. I asked him numerous times if he wanted to go, based on his formed obsession 3 or 4 years ago. But he would never relent, saying they weren’t Paramount films, which he has restricted his viewing to currently. I just couldn’t argue, they aren’t, and that is that! SOunds like the day turned out well anyway, and we too always make a trip to the audio visual section at Target, it’s a must!!

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