Adventures with Leslie: Sunglasses

“Laura. I need you to come and get me. I need sunglasses.” I thought this was just a ploy from Leslie to get me to visit her. I hadn’t been able to drive for six weeks and she wasn’t having it anymore.

She wanted to come to my house and take care of me. When she couldn’t do that, she reverted to something she knew would work – a request. A new one.

Never did I imagine Leslie asking for sunglasses. She barely set foot outside for decades.

Leslie is in a great program. In the last few weeks, she’s been to the Great Blacks in Wax Museum, Hershey Park, and Toby’s Dinner Theatre. It’s a full life. But there is no substitute for the joy Leslie experiences in her family relationships.

Every single person who regularly interacts with her, including her Direct Service Providers, is family to her. They are what she talks about.

“Which rides did you ride at HersheyPark,” I asked.

“The monorail. Laura, Conrad took a cruise. You should call him and talk about it.” And then she’d tell me about Conrad’s trip. Conrad works at her day program.

Leslie’s joy is in being connected to family, and for her that includes community. She enjoys the other activities but it’s connection that matters most to her.

That’s why I invited every member of our family to her recent birthday party. It was the first time she has been celebrated in years.

I ordered pizza, dozens of balloons, and we made a cake. In our family, we always make our own cake – even if it’s from a box. Decorating it is half the fun.

Family members who’ve barely spoken to each other in years all celebrated and smiled together.

That’s the power of Leslie and of the special people like her in our community. They love everyone.

I get big hugs from her roommates every time I visit. It’s lovely.

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