Regular readers of my blog know that I have a son with special needs. He has autism. I have written about quite a few of the happy, the sad, the inspiring, and the heartbreaking moments that we have shared with him, so I will let you explore those blog posts of mine by yourself.
What I would rather talk about is a wonderful moment, when I met a delightful person, Mike. Before that story, a preamble…
My son is 21. Those of you who have special kids know the significance of this age. As lucky as we are in this country, where services for people with “disabilities” are relatively plentiful, at 21 most of those services disappear or are replaced by others, with the added hurdle that now we are dealing with legal adults. For example from this academic semester on, my son will never attend anything called a “school” anymore. He does attend a place where, depending on the severity of the condition, they socialize, participate in activities, have a certain degree of responsibilities, etc., and as far as I’ve seen, the guests are very well treated. Perhaps I’ll talk more about it some other time.
Anyway, that’s where I met Mike.
Last Thursday I went to pick my son up at “the place”. As I was waiting for him, I saw many people walking towards a line of buses; all these people were adults, all noticeably “different”. As a parent, I could not help but feeling angry at the people outside in the community who surely are rude and worse to those human souls… And yes, I have to admit that I felt sorry for them.
That’s when I met Mike. Mike seemed to be about my age (at the time of this writing, I’m 54), and clearly had intellectual and verbal limitations. That did not slow him down one bit. I actually heard him before I saw him. Cheerful, social, greeting every single person he passed by. Eventually, he got to where I was waiting for my son. He looked at me, smiled broadly, pointed at himself, and still smiling, said, a tad too loudly: “MIKE! MIKE!” I smiled back at him, pointed at myself, and matching his voice volume, I said “ONÉ!“
Mike pointed at me while saying: “ONÉ! ONÉ!”
And then he hugged me… And I hugged him back…
He let go, and without missing a beat kept walking and greeting people until he got in his bus.
I want to be as happy as Mike is. Everybody should be as happy as he is… And for sure I don’t feel sorry for him. I hope to see this kind soul again.
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