Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Gabe's Story - packing up

After Gabe's Mom passed away the relatives began to dismantle the apartment. All of the people in his mother's bedroom going through her things really upset him. "Why are you stealing all of my mother's stuff?" he screamed at his older sister and the other relatives who were helping her. Repeatedly we told him that his mother had given her stuff to his big sister. He would calm down and then flare back up. We went through the same conversations over and over.
It snowed and the memorial service that had been planned for the weekend was canceled.
First thing Sunday morning  I began to pack up Gabe's room. At first my son Fred, was able to distract Gabe and keep him out of the room. This let me sort out too small clothes in peace. But it was a small apartment and soon he came into his room. "what are you doing? Why are you stealing my stuff?" he screamed waving a big wooden sword in my face. The sword had come from a renaissance  festival. It had become a major nuisance.
"I'm not stealing your stuff," I said. "I'm making sure that you get to keep it. Remember how I said that you have to move?"
He wasn't listening. "guards, arrest this woman. She's stealing my stuff!" He waved the sword at Fred.
"She's not stealing your stuff." Fred said. But Gabe was not listening. He flared up all morning long, waving that sword, accusing people of stealing and demanding that people be arrested, and demanding to see his mother. There was a lot of crying that day.
"I know that he really likes that sword, but there's no way that he is going to walk around my house waving it and demanding that I be arrested all day long," I said to my husband.
When I began to pack Gabe's toys, he grabbed a large crocheted bag and began to stuff toys into it as fast as he could. "These are MINE! You can't touch them!!"  When the bag was stuffed he hauled it outside and flung it into the back of the truck. He continued to scream at my husband when He tried to move the toys to a better position.
By 10 a.m. I was exhausted emotionally. I said to my daughter Angel, "I'm going to say something that you will not hear me say very often if ever again - Find that cartoon network or something and watch TV with him for the rest of the day so we can get something done around here." At this time, it seemed as if Gabe was a TV and movie addict." The TV had been off most of the time since I had been there. This had made him almost crazy, but the adults had stood firm. Now I caved. We would be leaving the next day to start a 'new life' again. One last movie marathon at the apartment just might let us get the packing done.
Gabe stood in front of the TV shouting the memorized words at the TV a second or two ahead of the movie. Angel complained that he was ruining the movie. "No one is having a particularly good day." I said. "Your job is to keep him occupied."
By late afternoon I thought that we were almost done. Late that night we were still almost done. I was a tiny apartment and I couldn't believe that going through it could take so long
Also late Sunday afternoon Fred left with an aunt to go back to college. While Gabe knew Fred well, he didn't really know that aunt that much. "Why is she stealing him?" he demanded to know. Once again he did not listen to the answers. "Arrest that woman! She's stealing my Fred away from me." This started a new cycle of craziness, demands and tears. As the evening passed all of the relatives left. There was just Gabe, Angel, my husband and me.
"Susan, you did it. Where have you put my people? Give them back now! I said now." It was late now and he was tired. I tried to assure him that he would see them all soon. He just kept demanding that I get them back now. Getting him to bed was difficult. We had packed his dresser in the truck, but had decided not to take the bed. We did not have a place to put it in our house. I sat on the floor by Gabe's bed for a long time that night. Finally he dosed off.
Monday morning found us scrambling to get out of the house. We had a 1 p.m. court date and then we had to get back home. I had to be at work early the next day. We insisted that Gabe's sword ride in the back of the truck and not the cab. However, his big black stuffed dog, several blankets, and a pocket full of random keys were allowed in with him. We would have allowed a few other toys too, but this (plus the sword) was all he really wanted. He was very angry that the sword was in the back.
At the courthouse the pocket full of keys resulted in a melt down. We do not frequent courthouses and had not even thought about the metal detectors. Gabe had to empty his pockets into a basket. He refused. The woman guard asked us to stand back while she politely but firmly worked at convincing him to put his things in a basket. After about 10 minutes of him yelling, "Guards, arrest this woman, she's stealing my stuff!" he finally relented and put his stuff in the basket. It was a busy day in a major city and there was quite a line of people, now trying to figure out what kind of nonsense was holding up the line.
In the courtroom Gabe stood before the judge hugging his big black dog tightly. That dog had been given to him the Christmas after his father had died. He took it with him everywhere possible. We had let him bring it in with him to help comfort him. Now he stood there clinging to the dog, a frightened worried little boy, looking up at a judge behind a big desk. First the judge called Gabe's sister. Then he talked to Gabe. Gabe listened quietly as the judge asked him if he wanted to live with us. One quiet little yes. Inwardly I signed with relief. No accusations that we were stealing him or his stuff.
We signed the necessary papers, got in out truck and headed out of state towards home.

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