I am a talker. Always have been. I have no idea how many words come out of my mouth in a day, but it is a lot. My impulsivity to speak has gotten me in trouble on numerous occasions and it is always at the top of my list of things I need to work on.
I am also slightly picky in how I like things to be done. The combination of these two things means that I spend a lot of time giving directions barking orders.
"It's too hot in here. Will you please turn the air up?"
"Do you think Virginia looks comfortable in her chair? I don't."
"The only thing I want for dinner is a Billy's Sante Fe salad."
Since Virginia is unable to utter even one word, we have lots of what her speech therapist calls 'conversation boards.' Imagine a large, hollow square sitting on the tray of Virginia's wheelchair. Her conversation partner sits opposite Virginia with her face in the hole in the middle of the square. Around the left, top, and right sides of the square are words. Virginia uses her eyes to look at the word she wants to say or she might even look at three words consecutively to say a phrase.
Each board has thirteen words. On most all of them, the words 'more', 'want', and 'finished' are three of the words across the top. We have boards on many different topics, including the weather, Disney World, movie watching, book reading, craft making, and eating. You get the idea. Each conversation board has the thirteen words on it we think Virginia would be most likely to want to use in conversing about that certain activity.
I want to create a board for use at all times. In other words, one that she can always have in front of her if there is something she wants to tell me. This one won't be activity centered. So what thirteen words should I put on it? If I could only say thirteen words, what would I want them to be? What would I need them to be?
Our family went on a long walk yesterday. I probably said ten thousand words over the course of that hour walk. (Wills said a million words, but that's beside the point.) I asked Findley to stop so I could straighten a sock that was bunching up in my shoe. I asked him to stop so I could drink some water. I gave directions about which way I wanted to walk and on what I wanted to eat for dinner when we got home. I pointed out that my wrist was hurting, the my knee was a little swollen. (I know, I'm high maintenance. But don't feel sorry for him. We dated long enough that he already knew this when we got married.)
My point is, I need lots of things to go my way in order for me to be content. Virginia was yesterday and is in general just along for the ride. She can fuss to express her displeasure and we can play twenty questions to try to find out what is troubling her, but she has to let a lot of things go. She can't tell me that her shoes are too small or that she has a headache. I have no idea if she's hungry, much less what she wants to eat for dinner. And yet she is usually happy. So very happy.
I need to let a lot of things go, too. I need to relax more and just be along for the ride. Thinking about Virginia's conversation board has made me wonder if I had to get by on just thirteen words, would I still feel like smiling as much as she does? In choosing thirteen words, you have to get right down to the heart of the matter. To what's really important in life. But with no words at all, Virginia still speaks volumes about her attitude towards life with her megawatt smile.