Copyright© 2013 by happyhugo
They had dinner. This was when Steve presented the Pizza coupons to Paul. Paul took each one and looked at it. A "Yaakk" was issued after each. He put them in his pants pocket. This was the way Ed and Sally had conditioned him. He was aware he wouldn't be having pizza every day. When he couldn't stand it longer he would give a coupon to his mother. She would call Ed and he would bring it home for the meal that evening.
Ed called Penny that night and asked if she and Cindy could be present at the hospital with them while the scans were taking place on Paul. Ed had proposed two tests. One before Paul was aware that Cindy was present and the second with Cindy showing her love for Paul as always. Penny agreed to this immediately.
Brattleboro Memorial Hospital had acquired several machines of sophisticated technology due to being connected to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical. Two hours of time had been reserved by the doctors from both Fletcher Allen and Dartmouth to test Paul in Brattleboro.
Paul went in for his first scan at 11:30 am. An hour later Cindy was led into the lab where Paul was resting on a gurney. She ran to him and kissed his cheek. "Yaakk." He struggled to sit up, but Cindy calmed him and pushed him gently back. She proceeded to stroke his brow and he calmed right down. Steve let this go on for nearly ten minutes and then wheeled the gurney back to the image machine. Cindy held his hand until he disappeared into the gaping maw of the instrument.
There were technicians who were seeing the images in real time, but none of the rest did. It was assumed the pictures were streaming to both Dartmouth and Steve's lab in Burlington. Sally and Ed would receive a report after all the doctors involved had a chance to weigh in on what they found. Much of the information in the diaries was being scanned and faxed as well. Steve and John's observations from yesterday would be included.
Finally Paul was released. Ed had only few minutes alone with Steve before the family was urged out of the laboratory. Steve saw Paul present Sally with one of the pizza coupons. Ed laughed. "That's blackmail, but we'll let him get away with it. Paul has been exceptionally good through this."
"He has and I'm impressed. Let's hope we can find something to make him even better. This is no where near a classic case of autism. I suppose it is similar to a birth defect in the heart. Those can often times be fixed through surgery. About this I don't know, but we will see. I do believe that the love and care you all have given him has brought him so much further than what he was just two years ago.
"Is the young lady that held his hand the one you implied might want to be in a relationship with him?"
"Yes she is. She has been his staunchest advocate since she was nine when she first came into contact with him. She will be fifteen in another couple of months. Unusual isn't it?"
"Yes it is. Maybe she will have some kind of life with him someday. I almost would hope so."
It was two months later before Ed and Sally received a report on what the doctors had determined during the evaluation. Ed and Sally studied it for it was quite voluminous. Steve called the day after they had it in hand.
"Ed, the consensus is that Paul will have some slight improvement if nothing is done, but he has gone about as far as he will go. He will level off for a while, but not likely to regress. All of the doctors agree that there is a 75% chance that he could be made remarkably better with an operation. He is 18 now. The operation shouldn't take place for another three years or so. He will have reached his full maturity by then. There is some risk of course and that will have to be addressed by you and your wife whether to go forward and have it performed."
"You say he would be much better. Does that mean he will be normal?"
"No, he won't ever be normal. He won't ever be able to speak, although that sound he makes would be much more expressive."
"Just what will the operation entail?"
"The team of doctors determined that a blood vessel could be taken from somewhere else in his body and spliced onto a vein that seems to have terminated abruptly. This will connect the mostly dormant section of that portion of his brain. This would supply more blood to the area that is devoid of major vessels at present. It should energize that area greatly. There has been some improvement in that area over the last two years and we lay that to his family working and caring for him so diligently. But until a bigger supply of blood reaches the area, further advances will be minimal."
"Can you explain so I can understand?"
"Well now it is like heat from the sun outside coming into a cold house through the open front door. That is what we have now. If we open another door, i.e., more heat can come into the house and spread throughout. That is what the operation will do for Paul. Using the same analogy, one part of his brain is locked behind a closed door with the key lost. The surgery team doesn't see any possible way to open that door for Paul and he will never be able to speak. However, what we attempt will be positive and successful. Thus Paul will be much improved."
Ed had a meeting at the house, inviting Bill, Penny, George and Emma and of course Cindy. "Sally and I have the evaluation back from the doctors. For now Paul's life is going to continue much the same as it has been. In three or four years when he is more mature, there may be something that can be done surgically to improve his mental capacity.
"It is suggested that we keep Paul happy by giving him things to do to keep from being bored. Now that he is eighteen, I am making him a partner in our trading enterprise. It isn't the money that I am after, because I am well enough off financially to pay for his care. Letting him continue doing what he does is what makes him the happiest and satisfied.
"He has racked up an impressive amount of money and I haven't done that much to earn any part of it beyond giving him the opportunity. I have consulted a lawyer and he suggested after I explained Paul's situation, that I should draft a partnership with the other two participants. Sally, as his mother, will be the third, and I'm asking Cindy to become the fourth partner. Penny and Bill will be in charge of Cindy until she comes of age. It will help Bill financially if Cindy has money when she goes on to further her education after high school."
Penny asked, "Why do you include Cindy? She is not related to him."
"Cindy has done as much or more to see to his well being than I or Sally. To me this is only fair."
"That's damn generous of you, Ed."
"Thanks, Bill, but you should be thanking Paul. He is the one who is doing the speculating in futures."
"Ed, not to sound displeased, but this will bind Cindy tighter to Paul. Is that what is behind this move?"
"Not really, Penny. Cindy needs some reward for all she has done. She is intelligent and I have faith she could move on and find happiness with someone else when the time comes. Look how she has followed our advice in being more social and taking up sports and being involved in different school functions. Granted she helps Sally and me here with Paul as much as ever, but he isn't her only interest anymore."
"I guess you are right." That was the way the meeting ended. Ed went about setting up the partnership with Burt at the brokerage firm. Burt was curious. "Why the change, Ed?"
Ed had been the only one who had verbal contact with Burt. "Because I won't be the one always in contact with you. Paul is now of age, but he is a mute, I trust he is fully qualified to act on my behalf. Cindy Peters has been helping me do the research along with being a companion to Sally, my wife. She is a juvenile who stays here much of the time and this is a way to pay for her higher education."
"Sounds complicated, but you have done so well in the past, who am I to argue. Thanks for filling me in on your reason for making the change. Are you sure you don't want to get into taking up short positions and hedging your moves? You could make a lot more money."
"No, I want to stay away from that. It is certainly more complicated, is more risky, and I don't want to devote my time to it. What I'm doing is a sideline that all of us have been involved in. Why change something that is working so well?"
"Okay Ed, your choice. I am making money off your account so I'm happy if you are happy."
One other conversation took place after the meeting. Cindy weighed in, "Ed, you know mother was correct, this is going to tie me closer to Paul? I haven't changed my mind about me making a life with Paul."
"I suspected that. Cindy, this will make it easier for all when decision time comes for you. One, you will have some money to actually do what you want to when you come of age. Two, if you do decide to make a life with Paul, you will be mature enough to know what you are getting into and what your life will be like in the future. I hope you are smart enough not to take on a life of misery just because you think it is the thing to do. I'm counting on you to be mature enough when you reach eighteen to make the right decisions."
"Thanks Ed. You know you and I are closer in some ways than you and Sally. I knew you first and you have always looked out for me. I have always considered you to be my father even though Bill is now. I love Bill, but not in the same way I love you. Paul really is the only one for me and I just know you believe it too. Also, you are the one that can make it happen." Ed was pleased. Cindy really was his little girl.
Time moved on. Cindy continued doing as she promised with her life. She attended all of the school functions and most every weekend she stayed with Ed and Sally. She learned what it was like to care for a baby. Brian, the only child of Ed and Sally's, ran to Cindy when she arrived. Paul was a favorite of Brian as well. When Paul went for his nap, Brian was right there beside him on the bed.
Sally, loving Paul as she did, helped make sure he received enough sleep, enough exercise, and had good food to eat. That is except for the occasional pizza. He had grown to be a handsome young man. He was subdued and when traveling with Ed and Sally, others had no clue that he was mentally challenged unless they looked into his vacant eyes.
Cindy took Paul with her a lot after she received her driving license. If Paul was asked a question directly the person would soon realize there was something wrong with him. He had the vacant look in his eyes and of course couldn't speak. This gave Cindy some bad moments, but she always handled the situation somehow.
Ed knew that as Cindy was getting closer to eighteen there was going to be some momentous decisions to be made by her and by the rest of the family. A decision about whether to have Paul operated on had to be made and this coincided with Cindy's coming of age. An observer who wasn't closely associated with Ed would wonder why he didn't just go ahead and have Paul operated on.
It was complicated. Sally argued that Paul had a good life living the way he was at present. Cindy would want to have him operated on so Paul would be more of a fitting mate for her. She would, however, take him for her own just the way he was at present. Penny wasn't happy with Cindy wanting Paul for more than a friend. She had been hoping for years that Cindy would grow out of her obsession for Paul and move on to a boy that wasn't incapacitated.
The decision would ultimately come down for Ed to make. The prognosis was still seven in ten that the surgery would improve Paul's life. Twenty percent, there would be no improvement at all and ten percent that he would be worse off ... maybe even regressing to having no mind at all and only occupying a rudderless body.
Ed and George traveled to Burlington to a conference with Steve and the team that would perform the brain surgery. They came away with the feeling that Ed should consider combining the seventy percent and the twenty percent to make it a ninety percent success likelihood and the ten percent the only failure possibility.
"Sally, I think we should have this surgery for Paul and soon. You struggled alone for years and I know you were always praying that he gets well. I feel strongly that he will be nearly normal if we have this done. Your prayers would then be answered."
"Ed, put that way, how can I argue against you? If the operation goes wrong I still have the son you have given me and the happiness that has come to me in the last five years. I will agree to Paul's operation and we will care for him no matter the results."
"Thank you. I really feel it is best for both him and us."
"What about Cindy? Are you doing this for her as well?"
"Some, but not all. I love her like a daughter and want her happy, but that hasn't influenced me that much. She has been warned enough about what life will be like with Paul and she has had every chance to move beyond him. She'll just have to deal with the results the same way as you and I will have to."
"She should be okay then. She certainly is a rich young woman when Penny turns the trust fund over to her. It has more than a million dollars in it. That was a good move on your part, by making us all partners. If Paul does wake up much improved, with what is in his trust fund and Cindy's, they will have a nice little nest egg to start life with."