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Embrace Retards!

Ready to Be Touched

My high school buddy from the Stone Age, Doris, sent me a story today. It was written by a guy (no name available) who recalled an experience that stuck with him and changed him forever.

Did the title of this blog draw you in? Stay with me.

The story writer told about the way a young Downs Syndrome man impacted the hearts of all he touched. I was moved by the story – and decided it was too good to keep to myself. I hope it touches your heart, too.

Photo by Paul Efe on Pexels.com

Nicky’s Lesson for Us All

In 1979, I was managing a Wendy’s in Port Richey, Florida. Unlike today, staffing was never a real problem, but I was searching for a someone to work 3 hours a day only at lunch. I went thru all my applications and most were all looking for full time or at least 20 hours per week. I found one however, buried at the bottom of a four inch stack, that was only looking for lunch part time.

His name was Nicky. Hadn’t met him but thought I would give him a call and see if he could stop by for an interview. When I called, he wasn’t in but his mom said she would make sure he would be there. At the appointed time, Nicky walked in. One of those moments when my heart went in my throat. Nicky suffered from Downs Syndrome. His physical appearance was a giveaway and his speech only reinforced the obvious. I was young and very sheltered. Had never interacted on a professional level with a developmentally disabled person. I had no clue what to do, so I went ahead and interviewed him. He was a wonderful young man. Great outlook. Task focused. Excited to be alive. For only reasons God knew at that time, I hired him for 3 hours a day, 3 days a week to run a grill.

I let the staff know what to expect. Predictably the crew made sure I got the message, “No one wants to work with a retard.” To this day I find that word offensive. We had a crew meeting, cleared the air, and prepared for his arrival.

Nicky showed up for work right on time. He was so excited to be working. He stood at the time clock literally shaking with anticipation. He clocked in and started his training. Couldn’t multi-task, but was a machine on the grill.

Now for the fascinating part… Back in that day, there were no computer screens to work from. Every order was called out by the cashier. It required a great deal of concentration on the part of all production staff to get the order right. While Nicky was training during his first shift, the sandwich maker next to him asked the grillman/trainer what was on the next sandwich. Nicky replied, “single, no pickle no onion.” A few minutes later it happened again. It was then that we discovered Nicky had a hidden and valuable skill. He memorized everything he heard! Photographic hearing! WHAT A SKILL SET.

It took 3 days and every sandwich maker requested to work with Nicky. He immediately was accepted by the entire crew. After his shift he would join the rest of his crew family, drinking Coke like it was water! It was then that they discovered another Rainman-esque trait. Nicky was a walking/talking perpetual calendar! With a perpetual calendar as a reference, they would sit for hours asking him what day of the week was December 22, 1847. He never missed. This uncanny trait mesmerized the crew.

His mom would come in at 2 to pick him up. More times than not, the crew would be back there with him hamming it up. As I went to get him from the back, his mom said something I will never forget. “Let him stay there as long as he wants. He has never been accepted anywhere like he has been here.”

I excused myself and dried my eyes, humbled and broken-hearted at the lesson I just learned. Nicky had a profound impact on that store. His presence changed a lot of people. Today I believe with every fiber of my body that Nicky’s hiring was no accident. God’s timing and will are perfect.

This Christmas, I hope we all understand what we are celebrating. We are all like Nicky. We each have our shortcomings. We each have our strong points. But we are all of value. God made us that way and God doesn’t make mistakes. Nicky certainly wasn’t a mistake. He was a valuable gift that I am forever grateful for.

We are celebrating the birth of the ONE that leveled the playing field for all of us. God doesn’t care if you are rich or poor, republican or democrat, or black or white. He doesn’t care if your chromosome structure is perfect. He doesn’t care what level of education you have attained. He cares about your heart. He wants us all to love and appreciate the gift HE gave us on Christmas, His son, the Savior, our salvation. His Son that was born to die for our sins. To pay our debt. To provide us a path for eternity.

So this Christmas, let’s check our hearts. There is a little bit of Nicky in all of us and I suspect there is a Nicky somewhere in your life who is looking for the chance to be embraced. Thank God for that. Thank God for His perfect gift, Christ Jesus.

Merry Christmas!

Alice Paschal Nativity

Peering Down

Another of my high school friends, Kristy, sent me that sketch up there done by a 93-year-old friend of hers, Alice Paschal. What a wonderful rendition of that glorious Christmas Day! Like those two doves, my husband, Bob, and I are sitting in the rafters, peering down on that magical scene – marveling at the love Christ brought down to earth. Grateful for those who share His love in stories, words and actions.

Ready to Learn

May we all be like the workers in that restaurant long ago – ready to learn to love, learn to accept, learn to wrap our arms around the most vulnerable. May we learn to see one another through Jesus glasses, from the inside out.

I first posted this in December of 2020 … and here it is a year later … December of 2021 … and in many ways, we are more engulfed in the effects of COVID-19 now than we were then!

My New Years glasses

My resolution for 2020 was to “Walk the Talk.”
Little did I know when I created those
20/20 Perfect Vision glasses
January 1, 2020
what a challenge
that would be!

I posted the picture
of that little girl
in early January,
determined to talk less
and to do more.

Lenten Breakfast 2020

No Way of Knowing

I had no way of knowing when we celebrated the first of five planned Lenten breakfasts leading up to Easter that it would be our last. COVID-19 hit, our gatherings were shut down, and social distancing eliminated these opportunities.


Time to read more,
time to think more,
time to reflect
on stories
like the one
at the top
of this blog.

I asked you, my WP readers,
“How will you spend
the rest of this 2020 year?
What will you do to
Walk the Talk
Show the Love of Christ
with those you meet?”

I asked you,
“Think about it.”

And here it is another year gone by,
still dealing with the effects of COVID-19,
and still asking the same questions.
still making the same requests:

And I still want you to know,
I love you.
I hope you have avoided
the ravages of the virus.
I hope you are well,
and looking forward to a
wonderful Christmas with loved ones.

Thanks for taking time to read
I hope it inspires you.
Bee well!

See ya tomorrow. (God willing)…

Comments on: "Embrace Retards!" (31)

  1. Elaina Colby said:

    Wonderful story and inspiration. Thank you for sharing it! Love you toooo!

    • So glad you took time to read and enjoy this, Laina. Thank you for commenting. I’m glad you thought the story was “wonderful” … I did, too.

  2. I teared up……awwwww! What a touching story! Thanks so much for sharing, ma! I love youuuuuu! 🥰❤️🥰❤️

    • Yes, DeDe, wasn’t it touching? I’m so glad you took the time to read it. I hope you had a very successful Wednesday. We had a wonderful day <3 Just returned from Cameron and a visit with Nancy and Dan at Beartooth. Such dear people… and such a gorgeous day for that scenic drive!! Love ya, Sweetheart! <3

      • I’m sooooo glad you had a wonderful day! We had a very slow day but that’s perhaps because people are used to us being closed on Wednesday and now we’re open 7/7 for the high season. It should be busier today! But first I’m going to the hairdresser here in Vissoie to get highlights in my hair. I hope she does a good job! It’ll be my first time going to her. I don’t have time to drive down to Sierre!

      • Take a picture and let us see how the hair turns out. Thanks for visiting my blog today and taking time to comment. Your dad and I love you soooo much – and send you lots of love and hugs. <3 <3

      • I love you both too!!! I’ll take a photo tomorrow when I’ve styled my hair the way I like it. 😊

  3. Wow beautiful story! Thank you for sharing!

  4. Wonderful and touching story❤❤❤

  5. Very touching story Jan. Thanks so much for sharing!

  6. Oh WOW! Jan… You had me in tears on my return here today…. A beautiful story and as I know from experience in working as a support worker with adults with learning difficulties, Downs syndrome among others with Autism and Asperger’s to brain damaged at birth.. I know the horrible feeling such words in your title evoked..
    But I also know the love, the warmth, and the rewards of working along side supporting such individuals..
    One such gentleman with Autism, a very smart man in his 60s when I started working with him.. On being introduced to him the very first day, he was able to tell my my age… He then asked when I was born and promptly told me the day of the week that was.. I had to go and look up the date of my birth and found he was spot on..
    He could also count days… If we made an appointment for a day say even two months ahead he would tell us it was in so many days… Always spot on..

    Yes who in hindsight could have predicted 2020 vision to unfurl as it has.. But I am also a great believer Jan in nothing happens without a reason…
    And ALL of our Vision may soon have to be focused as we will all have our eyes opened one way or another very soon..

    Sending you love Jan…. Just back at my computer today …. Sending Love and well wishes.. <3

    • What a beautiful response, Sue. Thank you so much for sharing. I loved hearing about your experiences with those challenged folks we learn to love so much! Have a blessed day…. Thank you so much, {{{Sue}}} for taking time to write such a meaningful comment. I love you! <3

  7. A wonderfully inspiring post Jan! We have so much to be thankful for in spite of the unusual unsettling year!

  8. Such a wonderful story, Jan. I’ve emailed the link to my daughter – she worked on college placements with people with learning difficulties, many who had Downs Syndrome. She loved them.
    That drawing is amazing! xx

  9. Jan, thank you for sharing this inspiring post. The best moments in life are the totally unexpected ones.

  10. This is a wonderful post marred by the title which I agree is offensive, although I know it is an American expression. I have known many Nickys. One who also had many talents is featured in this post: https://derrickjknight.com/2016/02/01/black-and-white-discoveries/ X

  11. Jan, we all do have a bit of Nicky in us! You know my background and who I work with (and about my niece). This post is full of hope, wisdom, and love! I love the perspectives of last year and how it still speaks to you and in moving forward to a new year again. P.S. I LOVE YOU!!!

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