A Gift

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A Gift

  A small Asian woman sat back in her chair peacefully watching her granddaughter practice at gymnastics with her team. She had a baggie of walnuts in her lap and a book she occasionally acknowledged but mostly proudly kept her eyes on her Gracie through the glass window.   “Well Hiiiii!” said Oakley exuberantly as if running into a long lost friend, while bounding in the door of the gym. “How are you!?” She spoke as if the woman were a fragile, sensitive toddler. The woman turned and smiled taken aback that all the excitement was about her from this little girl she was sure she didn’t recognize. “Hi”, she replied back to Oakley, “I’m fine, how are you?” “I’m great!” said Oakley, “Sooo…how is China!?”   If I could write that noise that DJ’s make with a record, the one that sounds like time standing still…I’d write it, because that’s what we all heard in our heads! Praise God this woman was quick to play along or I might’ve been mortified! “I’m not sure about China, I’m actually from Korea but I’ve lived here for a long time”, said the sweet grandmother. “Ooooh, si, si…habla espanol?” retorted Oakley. Oh dear, it just got worse! “Ha, ha, no sweetheart, I’m from Korea, I speak Korean.” “Ohhhh, yes, si, si…but why are you here? Can I share your nuts?”   If I’ve begun to learn anything about mothering a baby with a mental impairment it’s that I have utterly no control and no means to predict what each moment will bring. I praise the Lord for people like this grandmother who are willing to meet my Oakley where she’s at and enjoy it. Not everybody does. It’s hard to watch your baby jump out there and then get rejected.   However, this last week our family enjoyed a staycation for the 4th of July, and it was otherwise. While we were there we spent several hours in the pool. And each time we went down there, which was on three different occasions, Oakley found someone she needed to befriend, or should I say, needed to befriend her. Oakley is a gift. How people respond to her has become a real measure of character to our family. She doesn’t seek out the obvious. There may be several kids playing games, which is where my other kids end up, but she’s spotted a young woman over by the spa with a group of men all drinking the night away. I’ve given up trying to control her. I could contain a dozen normal children before I could keep her anywhere! So I keep my distance just enough to give her room but so that I can hear everything. The men are less than excited about a child in their midst and had the woman responded the same way I would’ve intervened, but something was up.  Oakley went to the spa and sat right next to her, “Hi, my name is Oakley.” “Hi Oakley, nice to meet you”. “I know your name,” Oakley proceeded now with confidence. “You do!?” “Yep, it’s Crystal…I can do a flip underwater, wanna see?” They went back and forth for at least a half an hour. They talked about swimming, birthdays, pets and life. At one point while Oakley’s head was in a flip underwater I thanked the lady for being so kind. I can never figure out the right words to say, but I said, “She’s our special needs baby and I can’t keep her from seeking people out she deems special”. Oakley said good-bye to her at least twenty times as we walked away, from the steps of the spa to the door of our room. And Crystal always responded. Later that night Grandpa and Oak went to get ice and they ran into Crystal. I was told later that Crystal gave Oakley such a sweet and intentional hug it took Grandpa by surprise. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the night changed Crystal’s life in some way.   Mary, a woman at our church who was Oakley’s preschool teacher for a year, was helping with VBS this summer. Oakley is in second grade now but Mary always remembers her. At pick up one afternoon, Mary walked up to me with tears in her eyes. “Your daughter lifted me to a place today I didn’t think I could be,” she said. “She was sitting in her row working on her craft, she saw me across the room, got up and sat in my lap. She touched my face and said, ‘you are just beautiful’, then walked back to her spot.” I told Mary, “She only speaks truth you know, it’s her gift.” Mary said, “All I could think at first is that I didn’t even comb my hair!” “Mary,” I corrected, “that’s not what she sees”.   Oakley sees our soul.   The little Asian grandmother sat next to us the next week and every week since. She and Oakley are the best of friends. She politely asked me about Oakley and I explained. And this is what she said in her sweet Korean accent, “I don’t know if you love the Bible like I do, but it says and I believe, your daughter is already healed and in heaven, she won’t be broken anymore, her soul is perfect and she’s a gift.” To which I replied, “Hallelujah sister”.   Thank you Jesus, for such a gift.

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