Friday, December 30, 2011


M was about four years old when he was able to truly walk; when he could walk a short distance without falling or needing his wheelchair. It was winter time and he had become bored with his traditional therapy sessions.  His physical therapist suggested it might be more enjoyable for M if we moved out therapy sessions into the mall.  The sights and sounds of the mall environment might be a good motivator for M.  He could learn to navigate walking through crowds.  He could practice stepping on and off an escalator.  The goal was for M to ambulate in a community setting.

I would take M to the mall on my own so he could practice his walking on days when it was too cold or too snowy to be outside.  We had a favorite mall we liked to visit.  M particularly loved the fountain and tossing pennies into it.  I would sit several yards away on a bench.  I would hand M one penny at a time. He would make his way to the fountain and would take particular delight as he would watch the penny splash into the water.  He'd smile and clap his hands and would then make his way back to me for the next penny.  We'd continue until he became too tired to walk anymore or when I ran out of pennies.

As I would watch him, I would remember myself as girl, tossing my own pennies into fountains.  I would make a wish with each penny I'd toss in.  Doesn't every child?  I'd wish for more wishes.  I'd wish for all the candy in the world.  I'd wish for a million dollars.   I doubted M wished on his pennies, so I would make wishes for him.  Wishes for health.  For a good life.  For people to always love him.  Every time he'd toss in a penny, I'd wish for something wonderful for him.

One particular day we were at the mall, on our bench tossing pennies into our favorite fountain, when an older lady sat next to me.  She didn't say anything, but I could feel her watching us.  

Finally she spoke;
"He is a blessing, you know.  You should be thankful."

As a mother of a child with special needs, I have had quite a number of "he's-a-blessing" conversations with perfect strangers.  They don't bother me.  

""Yes, he is."  I told her. "He's a great kid."

She continued, "You know, I have a boy too.  But he grew up.  He met a girl when he was in college and got married and moved away.  He has his own family now.  You are the lucky one.  Your boy will always be like a child.  Your boy will never grow up and leave you.  Your boy will always be with you."

I didn't know how to respond.  I know this old woman meant no harm by her words and I could feel the pain in her voice as she spoke.  I have wished and prayed and hoped for many things for M, but never once have I wished for this.  I would gladly give away all my pennies if my son could grow up and someday have a family of his own.

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