Community View | Thoughts and prayers, we are often reminded, only go so far.
Talking on the phone with my niece one night she began telling me what was on her heart. She said on a recent shopping trip to Walmart. She and her daughter were busy picking out shoes when she realized that they were being watched. Looking up from her task, a little girl was openly staring at her daughter. The little girl’s mother came over, took her arm and said: “Stop staring, let’s go.” No apology, no nothing. As they walked away, her daughter asked her mother “What’s wrong with her?” By the rudeness of this little girl and her mother, clearly they were ignorant of the fact that people have feelings. You see, my niece has Down Syndrome. The heart of a mother will always see the good in their child and because of issues like this, we have to wonder why people have labels for those with special needs. My little niece didn’t care about the comment, in fact, she smiled so big at this child and truly thought she had found a new friend. Imagine the disappointed face as this little girl walked away without so much as a goodbye. People should pay attention. The labels put on our friends with disabilities is heart wrenching and even more so when it’s someone you love. We must protect our disabled and elderly. We as a society must be aware that those with disabilities and our elderly have challenges that we should help them with but we somehow seem to be oblivious to the plights they face. Things we take advantage of are often obstacles they need to overcome. I tip my hat for those who have taken up this role.
Driving on the freeway, I noticed a young man in a wheelchair on an overpass. He was signaling to truck drivers to honk their horns as they passed with an up and down motion of his arm. As each one did, he took delight at their participation in this simple act of fun. His caretaker had the biggest smile on her face as he looked at her with delight. Yes, this had taken a few seconds to witness but it made me pay attention to life. We must not become so busy that we cannot join in on the simple things. Since my niece is my heart, I must share in an incident. I was visiting with my niece and noticed she was fascinated with my cell phone. As we visited, my niece got a hold of it and “did her magic”. She had managed to re-arrange my phone! It was simple enough to return it to my previous settings but as I did this, I noticed she had down loaded all her favorite apps! Quite smart for a 5 year old! So, pay attention to the simple things in life. Those with special needs are people who just happen to look different but can teach you so much about life. They can teach you about love and what’s right and wrong. They can teach you compassion and the unbiased care for other people who are struggling with life’s challenges. Our elderly have stories to tell. Life experiences that you don’t learn in a classroom. If only our youth today would take time to talk to them and learn that there is life beyond their cell phones, the latest fashions and video games. I learned through my niece that life is tough but being forgiving is the secret of being happy with your circumstances and taking challenges head on is the secret of strength in one’s ability to overcome these challenges. I learned from our elderly that we can survive anything if we listen to them as they offer what they’ve been though in life. Where civility was a way of life and not a “Right.” Where taking care of one’s own was a privilege and a responsibility not taken lightly. So listen and learn from the best -- those who have challenges greater than ours -- our elderly citizens and disabled community.
What a beautiful thought for our day.