Today little c reminded me of one of my favorite life stories today and I thought I would write it down even though I know that I will never forget it.
I have a handicapped brother and he is a big guy to say the least. He suffered oxygen deficiency at birth and subsequently his world is very limited. He does not speak. Once I think a doctor said that he had the abilities of an eighteen month old child. However, he is huge.. over six feet tall and strong as an ox.
In my family he has been gently and patiently cared for primarily by my father. It has been a task of gargantuan effort and great love.
When you have a family member who is handicapped, you gain a sensitivity to certain words and to the insensitivity of those who imitate and poke fun at those whose courage just to live from day to day is valour beyond measure.
It takes a special person though to look not just at a person's ability or disability, but into their hearts to see the dignity and courage and love that are almost always there.
One day my sister and I decided to take him on an outing to the mall. Insane. J, my dear brother, had a habit of taking things in restaurants and other places, food stuffs mostly. He might walk past the chocolate milk in the market... only stop.. open and chug-a-lug rather than say placing the milk in the cart for purchase. If we were being escorted to a table by a waitress, J might pass by another patron who might happen to have a lovely buttered roll just sitting at his plate.. not being eaten. J does not understand any hesitancy in eating ones buttered roll and to show this lazy patron how things are done, he might just kife the thing and gingerly stuff it in his mouth before anyone was the wiser. It's kind of a slight of hand.. so fast you almost didn't see it.
People take things differently. Some people are kind and some are not. Some are really not. How would you feel if your buttered roll just disappeared into some big guy's mouth? J's manners are out of our control and it could be more than a little embarrassing taking him places sometimes because of these little social misunderstandings.
This particular day at the mall as we carefully went our way down the walk passing shop after shop as we went.. brother J spotted a kind face with a very large soda and in his impressive way, he had cup in hand and straw in mouth happily slurping away before we blinked and noticed.
When we did notice, of course we were horrified, although not surprised by J's thievery. We then awaited the scene that often followed.. the one where we apologize and explain and apologize and apologize... However, instead of acting annoyed or offended, this gracious lady (victim) smiled in the most genuine and friendly way and said, "Don't even worry, he is welcome to it."
I don't know this woman at all, but when I meet her in heaven, I will throw my arms around her and tell her that I love her.
Mother Theresa once said, "We can do no great things, only small things with great love." But, done with great love, a small thing can become a grand gesture.
It has been more than 10 years since this little happening, but I think of it often and it is one of the events in my life that confirms to me that people are essentially good and that even with all the bad news one so often hears.. still.. we are likely, every so often, to run into an angel right here on earth.