by Blanche Nonken.
My younger daughter is autistic. She’s 20 years old, and last week was her high school graduation.
She has been living in a special needs group home since age 19, and I have been working to recover my own balance since she was placed.
Decades of keeping her safe and getting her the most appropriate education and therapies I could find have left her functioning well enough to be doing great in her placement – but has left me fairly burned out emotionally.
I had to keep all my tools and supplies locked up and hidden until placement, as she has no sense of safety or personal space.
Her impending graduation was hitting me hard – and eventually I figured out what I feeling was “well, I did so much it left me empty – where’s my certificate? Where’s my award?”
This state of mind left me at a loss – how do I find closure?
Then I realized – I had no graduation gift for her! I started drawing out heart shapes – she likes simple, basic pop-culture things.
I’d just gotten some square copper wire, and had some thin brass sheets, plus heavier copper I’d recovered from salvaged pipe (I’m gradually replumbing our house.)
The heart shape was low, flat and stretched – “it looks like an eagle,” my niece said. And that worked too.
This was my first three-layer soldering job.
The square wire for numbers “2016” in copper, atop thin brass, atop the copper form I’d cut out.
My hands aren’t steady enough to nip tinier pallions of solder, maybe next time I’ll get my niece to do it.
But using Rubyflux to set the numbers with their bits of solder in place, atop the brass that I’d soldered to the copper, it all worked much more beautifully than I expected.
I added two links each side, the square wire with brass wire wrapped around the middles of the links, and stock brass chain (not in photo) to complete the choker.
I live on a farm, and this is a very busy time of year – I had to work in 10 and 15 minute snatches but had it ready to go by Graduation night.