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One moment of your time.

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One moment of your time.

Post by Gawain on Thu Nov 13, 2008 1:19 am

As most of you know, I have a son who is Autistic. This story hit me kind of hard, and for those of you who are believers, I'd like to ask you to pray for this family. I'm gonna go hold my baby boy for a few minutes after I get done here.....

OC Register
TRUE LIFE: A neighbor writes about an autistic boy and his mother, who died this month when struck by a suspected drunk driver.


The beauty school next to Vons is the best kept secret in my neighborhood. For five bucks, you can get a meticulously styled 'do, cut with care by an earnest student determined to score straight A's. My hair hasn't looked so bouncy since my '80s perm.

A couple of weeks ago, I talked my son into giving it a try. Matt's mop top was in desperate need of a mop up. Upon arrival, he skeptically surveyed the decapitated mannequins with flowing synthetic locks.

I was relieved to spy another boy about Matt's age in a barber's (for the moment) chair. His mother stood nearby. The image is a blur to me. I had grocery shopping on my mind.

I vaguely recollect the brunette youngster, two trainees hovering over him. The woman looked something like me a generic mom. At least, I think she did. In truth, she is a blank spot in my memory.

As an apprentice was pinning up sections of Matt's hair (a first for him), I trotted off to Vons. "I felt like a girl," Matt later commented. Neither of us mentioned the other boy.

Three days later, I dragged Matt along on an errand. He's good company.

We came upon police cars and flares on the opposite side of winding Lampson Ave., which flows into our Seal Beach neighborhood. "This street is so dangerous!" we shuddered. "There are so many accidents on it! People treat it like a freeway!"

That night, I couldn't get the accident scene out of my mind. There's not much reason to be on that stretch of road unless you live in our tract. So I emailed some friends inquiring what they'd heard.

Bit by bit, information trickled in. A car hit two bicyclists a mother and her son then rammed into a tree. The boy is 14. His family lives two blocks from our house. Both the mother and the driver were in critical condition.

I racked my brain. A boy only a year older than Matt? Surely we know him.

Matt pointed out that a sweet kid named Jamie lives on that street. Jamie played on Matt's flag football team last fall. Super-nice parents. Athletic mom the kind who would be out pedaling on a Sunday afternoon. My heart sank.

But then more details dribbled in. Not a Jamie. A Sam. Who's Sam?

"I know Sam," Matt answered. "He's autistic. Remember the kid in the beauty shop? That's Sam."

The driver was drunk, at 5 in the afternoon. He already had a DUI on his record. He missed a curve and hit the woman, who flew 30 feet into a wall. She suffered severe head injuries. Sam's OK.

More background, from friends of friends of friends: Sam is an only child. His parents are active in the autism community. His mother "is the center of his universe, and he of hers," one message said.

"They're always out riding bikes or jogging," Matt recalled. "Haven't you noticed them?" Not really.

On Tuesday, Oct. 14, the woman was taken off life support. Her organs were donated to eight people.

I don't know this family, but they are very much in my thoughts for so many reasons.

How do you tell a child one who can't even understand-- that he never again will see the center of his universe?

Life is so fragile and death so random. Twenty seconds later, Sam and his mother would have turned back onto a side street, off the major thoroughfare.

What a coincidence, of sorts, that I had just shared that brief interlude with them a routine chore, nothing special about it, nothing to indicate that this generic mom who looked something like me had only a few days left to live.

"Generic mom," of course, does not begin to do her justice. Heroic mom is more like it. A mom who embraced her son's disability and loved him with all her might. A mom who could have wallowed in self-pity but instead rolled up her sleeves and got to work. A mom who served as best friend and recreation coach to a boy who couldn't make friends or play Little League.

It's curious, now, how invisible Sam's family was to me. Parents live in their children's worlds, and our two worlds did not intersect -- other than in the beauty shop and, probably, the post office or the Rite Aid or the dry cleaner. No cheering together at soccer games, no small talk in classrooms, no carpools to science camp, no prearranged sleep overs.

But Sam's mom had her own social network, her own interests, her own rewards, her own joys. And in that universe, she and Sam were each other's sun.

Contact the writer: Susan Christian Goulding is a Seal Beach-based writer and SAT instructor. Contact her at;

Cathy Busse, who was 47, lived in Seal Beach with her husband, Ben, and son Sam, 14, a student at Los Alamitos High School. She also is survived by her mother and five sisters. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to: Busse Family Special Needs Trust, Care of St. Anne's Catholic Church, 340 10th Street, Seal Beach, CA 90740.

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Re: One moment of your time.

Post by Guest on Fri Dec 19, 2008 2:48 pm

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