A record of kindness

August 6th, 2015

 

NOTE:  The following blog post has been waiting in my drafts, unfinished, for more than a year now.  I thought perhaps it was time to publish it, as is, with only this added note–special kids attract special people.  The kindness of strangers is a precious gift in a sometimes cruel world, to be received with a thankful heart. 

 

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As Tommy’s nurse and I walked through the halls of the high school toward his classroom, pushing Tommy in his wheelchair, two teenage guys walked down the hall toward us.  One of them glanced at us and looked away.  The other…well, I’m so used to strangers either staring, or looking away, not wanting to stare, that it took a moment to sink in, but when it did, the tears sprang to my eyes.

“Hi Buddy!” he said casually to Tommy as he passed.

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When the lady behind the hotel registration desk heard that we’d forgotten to bring our handicapped parking placard, she immediately insisted on moving her own car so we could park near the entrance.  Then she and another lady stood behind the counter and beamed hugely upon our little band as we trooped through the lobby, all thirteen of us with loaded luggage cart, two wheelchairs and a double stroller.  “What a beautiful family!” they said.

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We saw the teacher’s aide holding the little girl’s hand as they walked behind the rest of her school class through the zoo.  “Look, children!  That little girl has Down syndrome!”  I didn’t expect to see them again, but later, on one of my trips in and out of the restroom to change diapers, lo and behold, there they were!  This time, as the aide hurried her toward the restrooms, the little girl was in obvious distress, talking through her tears about how hot she was and how she needed the bathroom.  The aide spoke kindly and reassuringly to her throughout the whole episode in the inimitable style of a spunky southern black female.  “I know you need the potty, honey.  I know it’s so hot!  We’re almost there!  Now do you feel better?”  And so on.  As she stepped out of the stall next to ours, I was compelled to say something, so I opened our stall door and patted her on the shoulder before she walked away.  “I just had to say, ‘Good job!’  I have…[throat closed up, then tried again]…two…[choked up again, so Mindy finished for me as the aide and I looked into each others’ eyes, mine now filled with tears]…little girls with Down syndrome…”  She smiled and said, “I understand.”

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The man who followed us out of the zoo to our van at the curbside in the pouring rain and held an umbrella over Tommy’s head until I got him settled in his car seat.

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The lady in the waiting room who practically ran across the room to hold the doors open for us on our way out of the doctor’s office with a wheelchair and double stroller, and explained that she knows how challenging it can be to maneuver them in tight spaces, because her mom is in a wheelchair.

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The warmly smiling faces who walked toward our family of thirteen, including three with obvious special needs, as we sat together at the ballgame.  “I knew I loved you as soon as I saw what you were doing,” she said.

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The staff member at the ballpark who came up to me as I squatted next to the wheelchairs feeding the children.  Held out his hands and gave me four soft toy baseballs.  “I only have four left, and I saw that you have some great kids here,” said he.

~Originally written July 5th and 12th, 2014

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12 Responses to “A record of kindness”

  1. Jessica says:

    Love this post, Susanna. I’m so glad that you sometimes receive these unexpected affirmations and encouragements – they’re like hugs from God, just for you.

  2. Lori T. says:

    I love this! It makes me realize how much the little things really do matter. Kindness is contagious. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Sandi - bbcooker says:

    Thank you for posting. ((hug))

  4. Lori D. says:

    This is absolutely BEAUTIFUL, Susanna! Thank you for sharing–and for continuing to share your heart–even when it’s battered and broken for God’s glory and for “the least of these.” Hugs and prayers!

  5. Blessed says:

    Oh, that makes my night. Thank you for sharing! May you continue to feel such love!

  6. Tara says:

    This post made me so happy.

  7. Elizabeth S says:

    What a great way to remember our blessings. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Maria says:

    This is just what I needed to read today, Susanna! In the past two years we have had a public school pre-K, a pediatrician’s office and (just this week) a dentist’s office tell us that our special needs kids are too much and we would need to find a new place for them. I feel like we are on the receiving end of negative all the time. But reading your stories gave me joy and hope today.

  9. Kim says:

    What a beautiful post, reflecting on your blessings. There are so many blessings around us, if we simply open ourselves up. We can bless others by doing the simplest things.

    Blessings to you and your family!

  10. Jessica says:

    Thank you so much for this post. Yesterday I celebrated my birthday for the first time without my Mom, as she watched from above with Tommy. As I struggle through my grief, it is so healing to be reminded of the good that still surrounds.

  11. Lea says:

    Ah, Susanna. This made me think of my dear cousin, who is now diseased, and something that happened in her senior year of high school. There were three “kids” in the class who were in wheel chairs – my cousin and another young woman, both in the special needs class and a young man who had been in an accident. The yearbook wanted a photo of the three of them and the young man positioned himself, with his sleek, hand-wheeled racing-style chair between these two women in their bulky chairs with all their attachments, threw his arms around them and grinned like they were his best friends. He then whispered in each of their ears that they all had a special bond because only they new what is was like to have to rely on others to keep them mobile. I don’t know about the other young woman, but that now not-so-young man kept in touch with my cousin (who was non-verbal and couldn’t write) until she passed on and even came to her funeral.

    This world is full of special people – some are special on the outside and on the inside and some just on the inside! Aren’t we blessed?

    Thanks so much for sharing!
    Lea

  12. MamaV says:

    I remember when you told me the first episode. I thought it was so sweet! After Tommy died, every time I thought of that little anecdote I would cry :-(

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