One day last week during my visit he was having an off day. I kept asking him, "Erik are you doin' ok?" and he'd just sort of grunt. He seemed distant and sad. I had arrived during sing-a-long and we enjoyed doing that together. Then one of the sweet older men who lives in the facility asked if we'd like to see his paintings. Since I'd attended his art show a few weeks earlier I was very eager to talk with him about his hobby so we went to his room and Erik sat (a little impatiently) in a chair while we visited about his art. He even decided to give Erik a small original painting of a bird, it was so pretty. When he asked Erik if he wanted it for his room he had the gall to say "No". I said "YES you do and we're going to put it up in your room this very day." We returned to Erik's room and I think he cheered up to have more of my attention. I was encouraged to see Erik start to tease me. I went into the bathroom to wash my hands and he closed the door on me and then started laughing. He calls it "putting you in jail." Well, I try to milk it for all it's worth so I knock on the door like I can't get out and plaintively say "let me out" ... all to help him enjoy the joke as much as possible. He did, but I could still tell he wasn't himself. So we went out walking around the building. It was one of those perfect spring days and about 4 in the afternoon and I thought, "hmm, maybe I can take Erik out for a short drive before dinner." So I told the receptionist, "We're going out, be back by 5" and off we went. What would cheer Erik up? Maybe a coke. So we got into the car, cracked the windows. I found a country station and cranked it up. Erik was thrilled! He sang along with gusto to a song about a man who "ate cornbread and chicken." This was the ticket! Erik was a smiling, clapping, happy guy. I said, "hey, my car need gas, let's go get gas." We sang all the way there. I pumped and afterward asked Erik, "Would you like to go into the little store and get a coke?" Haha, of course. So we went in, and they had NO soda fountain. But, a-ha...McDonalds was next-door. "Hey Erik, let's go get a coke there." He was all in for that! So we went. I got him a large cup, he filled it up and then I wanted to get back into the car so we could make it for dinnertime. Erik had other plans. Didn't I realize that he was IN McDonalds? He points to the counter. "Oh, you want food too?" He nods, sincerely. I say, "but Erik, this time we're only getting a coke because it's almost 5:00, you know, and you'll be having dinner...blah blah..." We're sitting down at a little table by now. Erik is not happy, he is frowning. He turns his back to me. I am being shunned. He sighs and puts his forehead in his hands. He's not even touching his coke. How can my sister DO this to me? I'm thinking how can Erik do this to me? What to do. Time passes. "Erik, would you like a hamburger?" He looks at me and nods. Then quietly he whispers "Pleeeeease." Oh my goodness. Well, I can tell when I'm beat and...after all, it IS World Down Syndrome Day....so what if Erik eats 2 dinners today! I go get him a burger a fries, to go. We get into the car and he's a little bit happier. I put on more country music to help. We arrive back at his home right in time for dinner. He walks in and holds up his McD bag and coke to show everyone how lucky he is. I took him to his dinner table and helped him get set up with his ketchup and he was a-ok. I still don't know if he ate two meals that night. But I was reminded...don't take Erik near a McDonalds unless you're willing to go the distance.
|hanging in Erik's room|