It’s Summertime. Blue skies, warm weather, and the Pacific Northwest….

The perfect day for a road trip. It was an easy choice for me and I knew exactly where we would go. I completed my morning chores, filled water bottles, and packed my camera…

“But what about my illustrations?”  

As much as John knows I’m all for exploring and adventure and often load everyone in the car and go, he usually has to discuss, question, dialogue and process what we are going to do.

“What about “Sandman of Seaside?”

The name of our new children’s book, John has transferred his rough draft drawings to the computer and is currently working on editing and completing final copies for the story. I explained to him that if he wished, he could easily work on his illustrations in the evening when we got home.

“But what about our deadline?”

Taking his illustrations seriously, John has organized his work into a series of deadlines. His latest goal is to have his final drawings for “Sandman of Seaside” completed by the first week of August, sometime between the first and the fourth. I asked him again what he thought of working on his illustrations after our road trip?

“I’ve got an idea.”

John gathered several pieces of drawing paper and a pencil, explaining that he would work on illustrations for a third book I am currently writing instead of “Sandman of Seaside.” He suggested stopping at Starbucks in Sandpoint, the Idaho town he knows that I was planning on road tripping to. As it is often hard for John to move past what he is planning on doing when there is a sudden change in schedule, I was pleased that he was strategizing on how to do so.

“I’ll work on “Chesty and His Boy.”

Surprisingly that is exactly what he did. During our road trip, he talked about his ideas for the first page. It was such a nice day, I asked him to consider drawing at the beach park so his younger brothers could swim.. He didn’t like it but agreed to compromise. We would stop first at Starbucks than find a place to write and illustrate down by the lake.

“Do you like what I’ve drawn?”

Though it took two trips back to the car to retrieve what he had forgotten, first his paper and pencil, next the wooden board he had brought with him, a smooth surface to place his paper and draw on, John sat down and began to draw. A breeze cooled the afternoon, relief from the hot summer day. The lake with the mountains all around and the sky above were many layers of sun shined shades of blue. For a short time, we sat side by side, illustrating and writing in the quiet calm that nature sometimes brings. I watched him for the seconds that he was relaxed enough to be free from the OCD tics that make it so hard for him to formulate his thoughts and speak. A beautiful thing to see. I smiled and said….

“I love it…”

-Chris….

My daughter Dani likes to put books on hold at our neighborhood library. Lot’s of them…. Because of this I often receive email notices that the books have arrived and are waiting for her to pick up and check out.

Today she had a special one to show off to her brother John ….

“WAIT! Do they REALLY have Bean and Pocket at the LIBRARY?”

John yelled as he walked through the glass doors leading into the main room of the library. Dani was waiting on the other side holding a copy of Bean and Pocket that she had reserved as a surprise for John.

“I can’t BELIEVE Bean and Pocket is at the library!”

Several librarians immediately looked our way at John’s excited exclamation with raised eyebrows but kindly refrained from asking us to use our library voices. I however thought it best to remind John that with all due respect, we should speak quietly.

“I’m REALLY excited… IT’S here…!”

John whispered loudly. Several people looked up from books they were reading to find out what the commotion was about. The expressions on the faces of the librarians watching us turned to curiosity when I whipped out my camera to take a couple quick photos.

“Bean and Pocket is AT the LIBRARY!”

John’s smile lit up his face as he spoke. He had forgotten to whisper and the raised volume of his voice drew more curious stares. Dani proceeded to check out her stack of books, Bean and Pocket placed carefully on the top, her way of letting John know she loved him.

“IT’S a LIBRARY book!”

John said in awe. It was closing time at the library. One of the librarians locked the door behind us as we left the building. We stopped so I could take a couple more photos than off we walked to the car. John sat in the front seat, his blue eyes twinkling, a smile still on his face. It was easy to see that he was greatly pleased that our book had made it’s way to the library. I pulled out of the parking lot, the little yellow book sitting in John’s lap…

“BEAN AND POCKET was at the library…”

-Chris

*Bean and Pocket

sold on Amazon.com 

 

“With Whom am I Speaking….”

I knew who it was. Many years had gone by since Maura had been John’s Occupational Therapist. More years had passed since we’ve spoken on the phone. But every so often, as in maybe once a year, we will run into Maura and catch up on each other’s life adventures.

Today was that day…

She was hesitant on the phone wondering if she had our number correct. I wondered why she was calling and smiled when her soft spoken voice asked if John might do her a favor. Would he please autograph her copy of “Bean and Pocket?”

Yes, he’d love to…

Maura shared with us that her daughter Olivia, who grew up to be a schoolteacher recently read “Bean and Pocket” to her class. Olivia explained to her class how she has known John since they were young children. Maybe she told them a little about Autism and what that means to a child or the families of children who live with it. Maybe there was class discussion on the sometimes insurmountable difficulties and the sometimes rare but terribly precious moments of celebration that Autism brings to life.

I hope so…

Today brought with it a visit from an old friend. More than that, a chance to celebrate John’s illustrations with somebody that was there during a time when John lived almost exclusively in the *Land of A. Nervous and yet so excited, John sat down to autograph his “Bean and Pocket.” Proudly John showed the person who had worked so hard to help him use his hands and find his voice, his new illustrations that he is currently working on for our new book, “Sandman of Seaside.”

Thank you….

Chris….

(“Bean and Pocket” can be purchased on Amazon)

*(”A” stands for Autism)

  CHECK US OUT ON AMAZON!

 

https://www.amazon.com/Bean-Pocket-Story-Hummingbird-Elixir/dp/0692870016/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1493522407&sr=8-1&keywords=Bean+and+Pocket

What to do on a gray and lonely day? A young girl’s imagination collides with a hummingbird’s magic and an unexpected offer to fly away on an adventure unlike any other. Where rain turns into sunlight, and the colors of the rainbow are reflected in the wings of tiny birds, Bean finds joy in a world filled with new friends and hope in a a gift that with a promise, is left behind.

Ten months ago I had an idea and a question that began with, “What if…..?”

What if I put aside the novel I had been writing? Change direction, try something different? A children’s book perhaps, with illustrations that would need to be drawn? 

I had my twenty-two year old son John on my mind. Diagnosed with Autism at the age of three, would John accept an invite to be involved in such a project? Could this be an opportunity for him to feel satisfaction in accomplishment, to have something to be proud of, a sense of purpose? What if he said yes?

I presented my children’s story idea to John and asked him what he thought about illustrating it. From John’s years of high school art and his continued drawings at home, I believed in the possibility that he could do it. The question was, would he want to? 

It makes me smile now to remember his enthusiasm as he readily agreed that he would like to be involved. From that moment on, he viewed himself as an illustrator, proud for what he believed he could do. He never wavered from his dedication to completing our project. His sense of purpose has grown in the months he has been working on the book and he has been very excited for the day that it would finally be published.

Today, I had the honor of letting my son John know that his wish for the story I had written, the one that he believed in himself to illustrate, has come true.

Very thankful to be in this moment and may I never forget to believe in the “What if’s…”

Chris