Traditions–we all have them. Good or bad, they’re a part of who we are. To me Halloween will always mean carving pumpkins with Cade while watching The Nightmare Before Christmas. My job at Halloween is similar to that of a prep cook. I get the pumpkin ready so that Cade can create his masterpiece.
“Daddy,” referring to himself in the third person, Cade continued. “Who you gonna be for Halloween?”
“I don’t know buddy. Who are you going to be for Halloween?”
“Fred Flintstone!” Smiling, he eagerly awaited as I gutted the pumpkin. The slimy strands oozed between my fingers. “Daddy…”
“Fred Flintstone has dirty feet.”
“Yes he does, Cade.” My hands submerged in pumpkin brains, I chuckled. “Yes he does.”
Putting one foot in front of the other, I delivered the artist his canvas. Meticulously he worked. The small utensil furrowed until the sculpting was complete. Two triangle shaped eyes, a triangle shaped nose and a crooked mouth.
“Wow Cade!” I applauded his work. “Who’s that?”
“Bat Man.” He proclaimed in a bad ass Bat Man voice. “Daddy…”
Taking his cue, I cleaned the next pumpkin. It was large with chiseled ribbed features, a pumpkin worthy of the Man of Steel. Watching Cade admire his handy work made me smile. It wasn’t enough, however, to keep the tears from falling. Cade loves carving pumpkins. Who’s going to carve pumpkins with him when I’m gone? Lost in infinite worry, I wondered. I wondered what the future holds for my son.
The hardest part of raising a child with disabilities is the endless worry. All the things that Cade enjoys, who’s going to be there when I’m gone? There’s so much Cade looks forward to this time of year.
“Daddy…October, November, December…”
“Yes Cade…October, November, December…”
“First Halloween,” joyfully, he outlined the remainder of the year, “then Thanksgiving, then Christmas.”
Ready to take on the man from Krypton, he etched away. Cade was content in his DC Nation as my mind began to drift. Just like Jack, the Pumpkin King, I thought of the many splendid holidays to come.
The smell of fresh baked cinnamon rolls filled the air. Cinnamon rolls and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade have long been traditions of my wife’s growing up. She’s kept the tradition going another generation. My friend Pookie and his children were spending the holiday with us. The kids were soon awake and playing in the back yard. I watched through the window as the kids buried each other in the fallen leaves. The same leaves I viewed as a chore, they viewed as happiness. We have so much to learn from children.
Later that day, as the grown-ups engaged in political crap, I thought of how much I missed the kid’s table. The kid’s table was filled with laughter. Never was anything serious discussed. You could belch and fart all you wanted. And there was always cookies and cheap frozen pumpkin pie.
“Hey Cade…” I leaned over. “What does Batman eat for Thanksgiving?”
“Turkey.” He answered in an obvious manner.
Excusing myself, I joined Cade and the others at the kid’s table and we had a blast. It’s amazing what a smile can do for the digestive system. It wasn’t long before our overstuffed bellies made room for dessert. Cade loves Thanksgiving. Who’s going to keep Thanksgiving light-hearted for him when I’m gone?
The slimy pumpkin strands brought me back to Halloween present. With Cade steadily chipping, Superman was taking form. Two triangular eyes set the stage for things to come. Continuing my clean up the sticky seeds fell to the floor. As my towel passed along, more seeds continued to fall. In bewilderment I watched as these falling seeds transformed into snowflakes.
Christmas is by far Cade’s favorite time of the year. There’s a magic I can’t describe in a nineteen-year-old that believes in Santa Claus. Sitting in the same chair where he carved his pumpkins, Cade made a list and boy did he check it twice. Three and four times even.
“What’s Santa going to bring you for Christmas?” Thinking out loud he continued. “Santa will bring you Batman…Superman…Wonder Woman…Cyborg…Aquaman…The Flash…”
Cade’s wish list is created from flyers received in the mail. There’s none better than Toys r Us as far as he’s concerned. With scissors in hand, he jaggedly clips. Then, with a touch of hope and a ton of glue, he transfers these images to a sheet of cardboard. Come Christmas, it isn’t uncommon that his collage has grown several inches tall.
Aside from presents, Cade always enjoys the many merriments of Christmas: the vibrant colors, the cheerful songs, the festive lights, the love and joy shared by all. No doubt, it’s his favorite holiday. That magical morning as he lies in his bed, visions of sugar plums are far from his head. The last of his gifts are placed under the tree and out of the house I scatter. With moves I learned from a James Bond movie, I sneak past Cade’s window. My sleigh bells are always gripped tight so not to make a sound.
“Ho! Ho! Ho!” I shout in a bad ass Santa voice and my sleigh bells ring loudly.
Cade loves Christmas and Cade loves Santa Claus. Who’s going to be Santa when I’m gone?
Humming the Superman theme song his artwork came to life. Two triangle shaped eyes, a triangle shaped nose and a crooked mouth.
“Wow Cade!” Again, I applauded his work. “That’s one cool Superman pumpkin.”
“Yeah!” He proudly agreed. “That’s one cool Superman pumpkin.”
Cade is my best friend. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t worry about him. Who’s going to worry when I’m gone?