“Vacation, all I ever wanted;
Vacation, had to get away.” – The Go-Go’s
Everyone needs a vacation. Maybe it’s the break from everyday routines. Maybe it’s the sea air coming off the Atlantic hitting you in the face and clearing your head of the year’s accumulated worries. Whatever it is, there’s nothing quite like it to refresh and rejuvenate you and your family. So as we stood on the deck of the ferry carrying us from Cape Cod to Martha’s Vineyard we found ourselves carried further still into new adventures and freshened spirits.
Families of children with special needs can find it hard to get away. When our daughter was younger the behaviors associated with her autism frustrated our attempts to have stress free, pleasant vacations. Danielle was always in constant motion in those days. She’d run from place to place in what looked like haphazard fashion. Once she cried and cried on the car ride home adding to our overall disappointment and taking away any happy vacation memories we might have had.
Fortunately as Danielle has matured many of her challenging behaviors have improved. So this summer we decided the time was right. We loaded all of us into the van and headed north to New England for a fun-filled family vacation. This time we were not disappointed!
Our first stop was Cape Cod, specifically Hyannis. What better place to begin than where our country’s first Catholic President John F. Kennedy spent his summers. We stopped in at St. Francis Xavier Church, where the Kennedy family attended Mass. When Danielle saw the beautiful statue of Mary she knelt reverently. We were happy. We could see that the years of teaching reverent behaviors to Danielle had given her an appreciation for the sacred and a means to express it. It was an auspicious start to a great vacation.
The following morning we took the ferry to nearby Martha’s Vineyard. There was a time when we would have held onto Danielle’s wrist for dear life fearing she might decide to climb up over the railing and do a swan dive into the chilly water along the bow. But to our delight, Danielle behaved beautifully on the ferry. She laughed and smiled and was at ease. So were we. We were free to enjoy the salt air and contemplate the God whose loving and creative presence is the source of all beauty.
We had a wonderful time on our vacation. Highlights included walking along the marina at night, sailboats silhouetted against a full moon, and white cliffs on the far side of the island. We even tracked down a bridge that appeared in the movie Jaws. Most of all we had fun. Special-needs families need to remember how important it is to find time for fun.
Now that we’re home and back to our familiar routines, it feels good to reflect on our vacation. Our special-needs family has come a long way. Each one of us.
Copyright 2018 David and Mercedes Rizzo