The BIG 4-0

Jacob Michael Pigford arrived on 7-9-79 at 4:43 PM.

And our lives changed forever. For the better. Just like no one can really understand how great being a grandparent is until you are one. I couldn’t imagine what being a mom was going to be like until I became one. It’s the one thing I really wanted to ‘be’ when I grew up.

Last week’s post was about the first twenty or so years. Even though by then Jacob should have graduated from high school, we were still more or less in a toddler stage. A tall toddler. Puberty hit and it was hard but we made it! There weren’t big family birthday parties every year. And many, many years I forgot to even take a picture of him or us together. We celebrated by singing Happy Birthday and Jacob opening a few presents. Some years instead of a cake, he had favorites like brownies, donut holes, Monster Cookies, or cinnamon rolls. Each year he had some sort of musical toy as one of his gifts.

Below are some pictures of a few birthdays from the last twenty years. A note about one of the images below, the one where Jacob is on his bed and Mike is reading to him. I had commented on Facebook about it being Jacob’s birthday. We were overwhelmed with the number of friends that sent Happy Birthday greetings to Jacob. That night, Mike read every single comment to him while Jacob laid very still, taking it all in. Listening to every sweet wish. It was a precious moment that brings back teary eyes.

Seems once Jacob hit ‘adulthood’, I became better able to cope with passing years. The markers were no longer a factor but there was that reminder that as he was getting older, so were we. Cruel reality. It is a hard fact of life for families with special needs. The huge question, what will happen to them when I’m gone? Knowing none of us can predict the future, I’ve been able to take one day at a time.

When Jacob couldn’t handle the crowd of the *Joy Prom back in the spring, Mike made a comment about ‘he has us’. It was right then and there that I realized we could have our own dance party. This year was one of those decade birthdays for Jacob. It had been many years since he’d had a party so this seemed like a good year for a big one. Family, teachers, and his main sitters were invited to the celebration which took place the Saturday before his birthday.

Party Time!!

Jacob is turning 40!
We hope you can come, we most certainly do.
No presents are necessary, he’d just like to see you.
A simple party with music to twirl and dance.
If you’d like to shake a leg, now this is your chance.
We’ll sing Happy Birthday and give him his space.
Hoping the party will put a smile on his face.

Jacob’s mom

His Mamaw said, ‘I think we will always think of Jacob as young and little.’ And she is right. No way could my first-born already be turning 40. Ready or not, he is and we celebrated how special he is to so many people! Friends and family came just for our boy and he loved it. While I didn’t get pictures of all the friends and family that came, suffice it to say, I couldn’t have hoped for a better turnout for Jacob. From 2 years old up to 84, he was surrounded (as close as he will allow) by hearts of love. It was absolutely perfect for him.

We got there early to set up with balloons, some of Jacob’s favorite foods, and fun music. One of Jacob’s sitters went with me to keep him occupied and entertained. We brought his wheelchair and it worked perfectly to zoom around the building while the party room came to life. When he was given the opportunity to just roam where he wanted, we quickly realized he was aiming to escape. Remember, autism doesn’t typically love to be the center of attention.

Once everyone arrived, he was hesitant to come in the room. Seemed to prefer to stand in the hall and peer in. I decided that he’d join us once we started singing Happy Birthday. Surely, he couldn’t resist that. So, his Sunday School teacher starting playing the piano and we started singing loudly all toward Jacob in the hallway. I was wrong. Our singing didn’t lure him in to a cake with 40 candles burning. Yes, we sang to him from the party room while he was out in the hall leaning against the wall amused at our chorus of smiles. It was sooooooooo Jacob!! Once the commotion settled, he came back in and twirled at the end of the room to music his dad had downloaded. He had his own space and could enjoy the party goers from a distance.

And then the PRESENTS! He loves to open presents. It was hilarious. He’d throw tissue paper over his shoulder and quickly pull out the bag contents and move on to the next. He got so many fun shirts, a Kalimba (thumb piano), new MP3 player, and candy, chocolate, candy, chips, and more candy. Somebody Everybody knows Jacob loves candy!! And get this – one was a bag of Macaroni and Cheese Cheese Puffs. Yes, his guests knew his tastes! Again, it was perfect. My heart was overflowing. His celebration was fun and I do believe he loved every minute of it. Thanks from the bottom of my heart to all of those that made it so very special!!

The day of Jacob’s actual birthday, he got to stay home, sleep late, play music, bounce on his bed, and watch TV all day. That morning we sang Happy Birthday with a single candle in Applesauce Muffins (a favorite). Then that evening, I made Macaroni and Cheese and in went more candles. Mike and I plus two granddaughters sang Happy Birthday a second time! Perfect ending to the Jacob Michael Pigford four day celebration!! Josh’s family gave him the fun jar (they made) full of yes, candy! Plus the shirt, which may be my favorite shirt ever and sums it up so well. I am so glad he is mine! So very thankful Jacob has been loved so well for 40 years and I have no doubt that he felt it in a big way this year as did we.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17 NIV

*Ice Cream is Good Medicine – April 2019 post


4 thoughts on “The BIG 4-0

  1. Wow!! I had no idea he was 40! He DOES look a LOT younger!! I am so glad he had an awesome birthday celebration and with such awesome parents and family!!!! You make ME love him so much and I have never met him! Plus, your poetry is awesome too!! Have you written a book yet???? Thanks for sharing these blogs with us! God bless Jacob and you guys for being such amazing parents!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am so glad Jacob had a wonderful 40th Birthday! God chose both you and Mike to be Jacob’s parents and not only God but all your family and friends. Jacob is so lucky to have you and Mike as his parents! I love reading your blogs about Jacob and I agree you do need to publish a book. I am one that will be one of the first in line.

    Liked by 1 person

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