Friday, Day 4 of our vacation, started with trying to figure out what we were going to do. Both of the families that we were visiting were not able to join us. We knew that we didn’t want to do the big trip back to Toronto, but we wanted to explore the area. When we lived in California, we explored the U.S.S. Hornet and the whole family seemed to enjoy it. Randy did some research and found the HMCS Haida, a Tribal class destroyer that served in the Second World War, the Korean Conflict and the Cold War and is considered the Royal Canadian Navy’s most famous ship. So we took the 45 minute drive to check it out.
One of the cool things about the visit was that they give the children activity books to complete different activities aboard the ship. Grace absolutely loved this and walked around filling it out as we went along and I helped Ryan with his.
We headed back and met up with Fox and his family for dinner at Boston Pizza (Brayden’s family was not able to join us). A while back, when we had a Skype session, Ryan had asked the boys: ARE THERE ANY GOOD RESTAURANTS TO EAT AT? Fox had recommended Boston Pizza.
We enjoyed dinner and then we stopped at a grocery store on the way home to pick up items for a picnic lunch the following day for the RPM Friends Picnic. We were going to meet at a park pretty close to the border so that two RPM families from Buffalo could meet up with us too. I asked Ryan if he was excited about it and he spelled: WORRIED THAT IT IS BEING BUILT UP TOO MUCH. I AM TOO HAPPY TO MEET PHILIP IN PERSON. I told him that he had nothing to worry about and that it would be fun and relaxed.
Well I was kind of wrong.
That morning, we received a message from Lisa Reyes, Philip’s mom, stating that her husband woke up very sick and that she was not sure if they were going to make it. Ryan overheard me mentioning this to Randy. DEARLY SAD THAT PHILIP WON’T BE THERE. I explained to him that life happens and that we would try to ensure that he got to meet him in person some time. I also mentioned that he would still get to meet Kaylie and spend time with his best friends Fox and Brayden. We left to meet up with them.
So one of the super cool things about the picnic was that Fox’s family brought slack lines. The kids all took turns walking across it and it kept them busy (and in the general area) which was awesome. Here is Ryan, finishing his first trip across the lines!
Well wouldn’t you know it, as we were finishing up our lunch and slack lining, Lisa Reyes, Philip, and one of her daughters, Leah, joined us! Lisa’s husband was doing a bit better and they were able to join us for the rest of the day!
We all hung out and then, one by one, we started to congregate on the blanket. Philip had prepared some ice breaker questions for the group and we had our RPM Friendship Circle where everyone got to chat.
It was epic! This is a day that I think that all of the families will remember. Philip wrote about it here and Brayden wrote about it here.
Later that night, Lisa (Fox’s mom), Jen (Brayden’s mom) and I went out for a Moms’ Night Out. We enjoyed unwinding and talking as best friends too.
The next day, we went to explore and have another picnic lunch and do some river walking at Elora River Walk.
Ryan’s insights: ONE OF MY FAVORITE PARTS OF THE TRIP WAS HANGING OUT WITH THEM IN NATURE. I AM TOO LIKING NATURE AFTER THE VISIT. MEAN TO GET OUTDOORS MORE.
Later that evening, we went for our last hurrah back to Shade Mills Park for a BBQ and some more beach time. Brayden’s dad, Trevor, brought their canoe with them.
Ryan was so calm in the canoe. It was actually amazing to watch. He just gently put his hand in the water as the dads paddled. He spelled: TOO PLEASING TO ME TO GO IN THE CANOE. IT IS VERY RELAXING.
When Grace was out taking a turn with the girls in the canoe, Ryan and I hung at the picnic table with Lisa and Fox’s service dog, Tetley. Throughout the week, Tetley and Gusto, Brayden’s service dog, came with us on many of our adventures. I asked Ryan, “So now that you have spent so much time around service dogs, are you excited to hopefully get yours soon?”
He spelled: NOT SURE. MAYBE WE SHOULD STAY A FEW MORE DAYS TO FIGURE IT OUT?
I mean how cute is that? Ryan is so clever and funny that he often catches me off guard with his one-liners. Lisa and I had a good laugh.
So of course it came to the dreaded time where we had to say our goodbyes. We were still on the beach and I asked Ryan if he had anything to say to Fox (who was nearby) before we left.
Ryan spelled: YOU ARE SO SPECIAL TO ME FOX.
Tears were welling up in my eyes.
Then Brayden was nearby. Ryan spelled: EACH DEAR DAY HAS BEEN AMAZING. BRAYDEN, THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUGGESTIONS. (Brayden had produced a list of must dos for our trip when he found out that we were coming. Ryan knew this.) That’s when I lost it and the tears started flowing.
And with that our vacation was over.
You know the sign of a great vacation when it goes by too, too fast. This was like we blinked our eyes and it was over.
When we got home, it was hard for Ryan to write about the trip. He was very hyper and running all over the place. I gave him two days to settle down because he kept telling me that: IT IS TOO HARD TO WRITE ABOUT IT.
When we did sit down, I created a lesson for Music Tuesdays about Best Friends Songs. We listened to the following songs: With a Little Help From my Friends by Joe Cocker, Lean on Me by Bill Withers, You’re My Best Friend by Queen, Thank you for Being a Friend which was the Golden Girls theme, and Ryan’s favorite of the bunch: That’s What Friends Are For by Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, and Elton John. I created a lesson about some of the lyrics and we dissected the songs. This helped him be able to write about the vacation.
Here are his thoughts:
I AM DEALING WITH BEHAVIORS TOO MUCH TODAY. I asked him “Why?” BECAUSE TOO MUCH BALLING (bawling) ON THE INSIDE. MISSING MY FRIENDS.
THEY (Fox and Brayden) ARE DEARLY SO SPECIAL TO ME. MOM, WE COMMUNICATED WITHOUT WORDS NEEDED, LIKE WE REALLY GET EACH OTHER.
MOM I AM TOO SAD.
“Ryan, you guys are friends for life. Dad and I are friends with their parents for life. Grace got along so well with Fox and Brayden’s sisters that they are friends for life. This is not the end. We will see them again.”
LOVE THAT. LIKE TOO MUCH WANT TO HAVE ANOTHER VACATION WITH THEM. LIKE TO SAY THANK YOU FOR THE CANADA TRIP. YOU GUYS MADE MY TOO MUCH LIFE WITH THAT TRIP.
“Ryan, we had a great time too. We are so happy to have been able to do it.”
UNDERSTAND I AM TOO WISHING TO SPEND TIME WITH OTHER AUTISTICS. TOO MEANINGFUL TO HAVE FRIENDS WHO UNDERSTAND YOU.
“Anything else that you want to say about the trip?”
REALLY TOO SAD TO WRITE ABOUT. REALLY TOO HARD TO TALK ABOUT MY FRIENDS NOW. LIKE REALLY HAD TOO MUCH FUN THE WHOLE TRIP. WILL THERE BE MORE OPPORTUNITIES FOR AUTISTICS TO GET TOGETHER?
“Are you challenging me to organize an RPM family meet up?”
I KNOW MOM YOU CAN ORGANIZE THIS. TOO MUCH FAITH IN YOU. TOO COOL FOR IT TO BE AN RPM EVENT.
“Ryan,that is a tall order. I will do my best to see if I can figure something out for an event like this. Anything else that you want to say?”
GIST OF IT IS, CALLING IT, BEST FRIENDS A BOY COULD ASK FOR.