A conversation with John

John is the kind of person many people will pretend not to see or like to go near. He walks with a limp and flailing arms because he has two bow-legs, two hands that bended in, gnarled fingers and head that shakes due to a tic. I know I would be * one of those people (ok, let’s admit it, many of us are like that) who will feel uncomfortable being with a person that we refer as cacat (handicapped). (* more about this later) If John wants to talk, he will need to muster all his facial muscles and even his body to get just a ‘hello’ out of his mouth. His teeth are uneven, yellowed, decayed. When he says a few sentences, his saliva will dribbled down his mouth. One has to go rather close to him to catch what he is trying to say. And on days when John has not been taking care of himself well, that means, probably had not been bathing, it does get a little hard on our noses.

But John… I suppose is a happy person. That’s what I told him today. He asked me to pray for him. He asked me if I know his name. The face lighted up when I told him yes, John, everyone knows your name.

I told him that even if I don’t pray for him, the Lord will take good care of him. He insisted that I pray for him. I assured him I will.

John : Aaaaaaaaaunnnnnntie…. can you pray for me? (for the 3rd time)

Me : Sure, of course. You want me to also pray that you find a wife to take care of you?

John laughed at my joke. It is great to make someone like John laugh.

Me : John, you know you are a very lucky person? You do not have to worry about working and earning money. You have no one to make you angry. You are always so happy. Not like auntie. Auntie got so many things to take care and to worry about.

I know John believes what I said. And I hope everyone who sees a special person like John will believe me too. He may not have a family, no real pal, no proper home, not much respects from the people around him, no money, no everything but he feels love all around him. He get hugs from many kind people, he gets just enough money to buy the next meal, he enjoys all the small things in life (like looking at babies, he loves babies), he is happy and he is protected by the angels and under the watchful eye of God.

(*) – At any other time, I know I wouldn’t dare to go near people like John if I had not been dealt with the possibility of having a handicapped son once. It is not easy for every one of us to see beyond the imperfections, disabilities, deformities to appreciate the beauty and the special qualities of the person. If I am John’s mother, I would be very happy to know that John is being taken care of. (I am not sure where she is but John told me he lives alone.) If I am John’s mother, I know I would be proud of my son. It is not easy for a person with legs like John to walk and even harder to talk. John speaks English very well and he can even sing with all his heart.

I hope every mother will be proud of their children, no matter what. But sometimes, some of these special children ended up in homes or even by the roadside, motherless. If you ask me what kind of mothers I respect most, it is those mothers who take their special children out in the open, share with them the beauty earth has to offer. Children in wheelchairs or children like John. Children who are blind or mute. It is mothers who have no problem sitting down for a meal in the public with sons who border on looking like daughters. I had met two such women before. The people around her (including bad me) stared at her son looking like a daughter yet she couldn’t be bothered. These mothers gain my highest respect. Read a very inspiring piece by Erma Bombeck here.

So, remember to say a little prayer for John and say an even bigger prayer for mothers to children like John. Amen.