Monday, December 18, 2017


As I walked with hands held, one girl anchored on either side, through the parking lot toward the sidewalk, I saw him walking in the same direction a few paces behind us. By the time we were approaching the door, I knew he was going the same place as us.
I opened the door, propelled two little girls inside and continued to hold door open for him as he arrived right behind us. As the girls stood off to the side, I turned behind me and spoke to him.
"You go ahead, please. There are three of us."
With much more enthusiasm than I had anticipated, he heartily thanked me, checked to see if I really meant the offer and then ended his remarks with a joyous, "Merry Christmas!".
He was genuinely surprised and pleased and so was I.

He stepped up to the hairstylist, waiting at the computer and gave his name, spelling it carefully, but quickly.
Then he looked for a place to sit in the crowded seating area. I gave our names next, checked to make sure that we had time to spare and then the girls and I headed back out the door to visit a children's consignment shop one door down.
We picked out some clothes to try on, but concerned we might be getting close to our turn, we left the clothes on the counter and said we would be back. Since it is a place we shop frequently, they were more than happy to hold our pile of clothes.
When we walked back into the salon, it was clear that things weren't moving that fast. I spotted Hugh sitting on a chair and feeling friendly, I asked him over the heads of other waiting clients, "Have you gone yet?" He gave a small smile, shook his no and said out loud, "No, I haven't."

I told the girls to keep their coats on and we headed back to the clothing store.
After we had finished our shopping, I took the bag to the car and then we all headed back to the salon.
Hugh was coming out the door at the exact moment we planned to enter. Ready to exchange a final round of pleasantries, I smiled at him and he smiled back, reaching for his back pocket.
Opening his wallet, he turned it toward me, pointing at a photograph tucked snugly behind the clear vinyl frame. As I leaned in to look more carefully, he began to speak, "His name is Cameron. He's twenty-two years old. What is her name?" He was gesturing towards Kate. I turned to look at Kate and told him her name. He repeated it with a kind smile.
The photograph contained two people, a large, seated young man with a much smaller and younger girl seated beside him. I couldn't see the facial expressions of either of the youths, but it was clear that Cameron had Down Syndrome.
He went on to say the names of either schools or day programs his son had attended, but I was not familiar with any of names he rattled off. He said his son was doing well and then he returned his wallet back to his person.
I noticed he had two silver earrings in one of his ears and his freshly cut silver hair was still a bit wet. He looked youthful, yet he was older than me by at least a decade.  He seemed a very proud dad, although from something he said, it gave me the impression that these children did not live with him.
With a last goodbye, we parted ways. I was touched that he shared part of his life with me and that we were able to help him be on his way to wherever he was headed to next.

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