I went back to work yesterday and Yorkshire Grandma came around at 8.30 to spend the day with Joshua. It was evident how much she had missed him while we had been away, which was lovely to see and he greeted her like a long lost friend too. She spoils him : he can have The Show on the television whenever he wants, whereas he has to share the TV with me, and he can eat constantly too. She took him up to the end of the lane to our local Farm where he watched children play and fed the animals. But it was cold, so they did not stay long and she took him back to her home, where he as not been since Yorkhire Grandad died last Autumn. She reported that he hunted around looking for him before he would settle down, which made me cry : he has not missed him at our house, but he was expected to be waiting at hers. This shows real understanding on Joshua’s part and he is often not given credit for having that much capacity. He is often underestimated, that because he cannot speak that he does not understand the world around him, but I have always said that he understands a lot more than he is able to express.
In the last 18 months, Joshua has lost his three grandfather figures in his life – both of our Dads have now died and also Yorkshire Grandad, who was always like a Grandfather to him all of his life. Joshua does not worry and tends to deal with the here and now, but he is aware of what is happening around him. He now has three places where he will seek out their missing presence. He attended all three funerals but they are too abstract an idea for him to associate with, he will not have understood that the missing man has been in the coffin at the front of the church and to be honest, I have not really tried to explain that to him. I know other special needs children have accepted that the deceased person, or pet, is ‘in heaven’, ‘is a star now’ or is ‘in the sky’, but these are not images and ideas that I have tried to offer to Joshua. He will stop looking for them in their usual chairs and this will be the best way for Joshua to accept their absence I feel.
Joshua does recognise me and his dad in photographs and gets very excited when he is shown these images at school occasionally. Emulating their idea, I plan to create a photographic collage of all three grandfathers for him to look at and to keep their memory alive for him. Although we had such a scrap book when he was a toddler and it was one of his favourite activities to browse through it, naming the family members,but eventually it fell apart and vanished. Even though digital photography now means that I have not got prints lying around anymore, it will be fun browsing through old images of the family. Uncovering long lost photographs is a great way to pass the time and take a trip down Memory Lane nowadays.So I will reinstate a phototographic tribute to his entire family, so that he can name them all and be reminded of them, whether he sees them regularly or not.