Can I brag on my son for a bit? I’ve written about Andrew before: here, and here, and here. He certainly has his challenges, but he’s made huge strides since those stories were written, and I mean that quite literally.
Although he was in the Multiple Exceptionalities class in high school, Andrew joined the main stream cross country team. I can’t remember how or why that happened, but when I picked him up after the first practice he told me he’d run 5k. “What?” I exclaimed. “How often did you have to stop to catch your breath?” He looked at me like I was crazy. “I didn’t stop, Mom. The coach told us to run 5k, so I ran 5k. Some of the kids stopped but I just kept on going because I listened to the coach.” I was pretty impressed.
In the years since then Andrew has stayed active, playing basketball in the driveway for hours, biking and walking all over town, and on the many trails Uxbridge is known for. He has had several paper routes, and he’s always on the go with something.
And then, several years ago Andrew was sidelined with a shoulder injury. That kept him from doing the physical things he enjoyed, and over the course of one winter he spent much of his time indoors. When spring came he had gained weight and was out of shape. The story is much longer than what I’ll say here, but finally, after trying to explain why physio exercises were important, anti-inflammatories that caused stomach issues, a re-injury, and much-hair pulling by us, and his group home staff, to figure out how to get him on track, Andrew started feeling better. The question now was how to motivate him to get back into shape.
It started with walking, and then he joined a very supportive local running group. He ran his first 5k race, and then several 5k fun runs. The next summer he ran 10k on his own, and in the fall he ran another 10k with his uncle, a marathoner, who tried to help him with pacing.
But Andrew’s true gift came a year ago in the form of a new group home manager. James is a distance runner, with, among others, a 50-miler under his belt. With his help, Andrew has been on a workout and running schedule, with lots of biking in between. Several weeks ago Andrew proudly told me that he and James had run “one-five kometres” and he only stopped to pee. Haha. They’ve also done long bike rides together on an old rail trail.
Yesterday I dropped in at Andrew’s and he met me in the driveway. “Guess what Mom?” he said. I could hear a big grin under his mask. “I’ve got good news for you. James and I biked six-oh kometres today. Like, you know, six-zero!!”
Wow! Sixty kilometers on a the single speed bike we got for him because he ruined two good bikes not knowing how to use the gears.
James checked in by email and said that before their ride Andrew had his water ready, and had also packed a healthy lunch to take along. They were back before it got too hot.
So, that’s the story of my Andrew and the giant steps he’s taken lately. With this Covid stuff and the distancing required to keep his group home healthy and safe, I know that this physical outlet has saved Andrew’s sanity. (Mine and his staff’s too, truth be told.) At age 32 he’s in better condition than ever before, and he is so delighted with each new achievement. He can’t tell ten “kometers” from sixty, but he knows they biked for a very long time and that James was proud of him. So are we, Andrew. So are we.