We give lots of credit to the Human Spirit and it’s ability to overcome plenty of life’s little obstacles, even major hurdles. If you left the house at some point during the day chances are you saw someone who has a difference that makes some facet of their daily routine a little harder than for someone else. Simple gestures like opening the door for someone, asking if you could maybe carry something to the counter or to their car, and for a large group of people it’s just about someone looking them in the eye and smiling. A small acknowledgment that they are just another person out doing normal things.
My nephew thought it was weird that I had repeatedly thanked a young man with Down’s Syndrome for his help one afternoon. He was doing his job of getting people to fill out a piece of paper. My aunt, who works with children and young adults with differences, taught me from a young age to just treat them like any other person. Ignore what they can’t do and be observant of the things they can do. Just shaking this young man’s hand and saying a few words lit up this smile. Ten seconds worth of little effort paid off big for the young man, and hopefully for my nephew as he gets older.
There are this class of people who for some reason decide that they are going to give up part of themselves to come and help sick people. No special training required, just sitting there and holding a conversation about anything or nothing. Teaching a teenager how to knit, helping with homework or possibly helping them deal with life in a way their family just can’t at the moment. Adults sitting around playing cards, watching the latest Red Sox game and cringing together. They wear name-tags and for some this is a weekly thing, for others they try their best but can’t help but let the emotions escape. Truly good people.
Sarah is one of these people. She visits me once a week during some treatment, someone must be giving her a timeframe since I am not sharing that information. We talk about school, hers not mine. Lots of questions that used to make me wonder if I was some lab experiment until I learned she was just an economics student who thought it might help keep my mind on other things. The teenager in the house calls her my stalker, but I think that is more about being jealous. There have been times when all we talk about is something Sarah is reading. I know there are times when between my excitement of talking about numbers things get confused with the drugs and at times my mind maybe wanders off topic.
Conversations about Behavioral Economics, Competitive Balances, learning how to use some theories on her fiancee to get him to see her point of view without him realizing he is being lead down a path. I have seen her cry at times, she’s human, it happens. But she keeps coming back for that hour or so that we just ramble on about the world.
I’ve asked about the girl who sat with me last week when I fell down in the hallway, but no one seems to know the answer. With some of the looks I began to consider that no one was there and my mind just went into defensive mode and created the situation to help me deal with the pain. What happened in seconds feeling much longer. Hopefully I will once again cross paths just to say Thank You in case I didn’t last week.
Not so long ago I relied on the ex to help me understand people, it’s not one of my better traits. I’m rather gruff at points and needed someone to soften the edges. I will always jump at the chance to help if I can, but sometimes my delivery lacks tact! These days I’m surrounded by well meaning people who just want to ensure I see next week or next month, maybe next year. I’m not very good at knowing how to ask for help, but I am glad that at times there are people there who can.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “The Kindness of Strangers.”