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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

In Which There Is Value In Everyone

Okay, so Geo and I have lived on our street for 26 years. During our time here I have seen the same mentally challenged man with the slightly-too-short pant legs and baseball cap, carry his tote bag past our house on his way home almost every day.

I have watched him age, and yet not age. He looks the same to me except maybe a little grayer. Every day he walks down and up our steep hill. I mean, like 80 degree, crazy-ass, billy goat steep hill. Every day. Twice a day, he makes that trek past our house.

And yet I have never spoken to him.

I don't know why. He seems perfectly gentle, fragile even. Maybe I'm afraid I'll rattle or upset him by approaching him. I don't know. It's ridiculous. I've "known" him for 26 years, but I don't even know his name or where he lives or where he works.

Every time I see him walk by, my heart breaks a little for him. I worry he will be alone with no one to love him. I assume he lives with his parents who are probably aged. Does he have a sister or brother? Will they take care of him? What if his parents die? What happens to him then?

He kind of makes me cry.

But then I think, Dude, you are awesome! You have a job. You have an air of contentment in your simplistic approach to life that is enviable. You have a sense of truth about you. An honesty missing from most of us. Of course this is me projecting a phantom reality onto this familiar stranger, but the fact is he has a productive life.

And that thought warms my heart.

And then I think about my nephew, Jon who is autistic, and how peaceful his outlook on life is, and how much I want to protect him from the nasty in the world, and how very, very proud I am of him and his accomplishments thus far.

He, too, has a job working with kind people who genuinely like him and look after him. He, too, has an air of contentment in his simplistic approach to life that is enviable. He, too, has a sense of truth and honesty about him. And I know for a fact he is loved by his family, especially his sister who surprised herself by how much she missed him when she was in Japan. And I hope for him to one day meet a special woman who will look past his affliction and love him for the lovely human being he is.

Yeah, one of these days I'm going to say hello to my familiar stranger, and maybe tell him how he gives me hope for my nephew.

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