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.
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.
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 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.
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 and 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 JanBeek. I hope it inspires you. Bee well! Bee LOVE.
Baby robins often hover Near the nest that was their home. Soon they’ll spread their wings And farther they will roam.
Like those little robins, Our children need to fly – Spread their wings and explore The vastness of the sky.
But in this COVID world, We’ve lost the freedom to soar. Our children may be caught Somewhere – longing for more.
If you’ve followed my blog for a year or more, you’ve met this young couple before. They are my grandson, Chris, from Switzerland, and the love of his life, Natalia, who lives in Colombia. Just before this pandemic hit us, Chris traveled to Colombia to meet his on-line girlfriend and her family in person. Now, the two must tuck in their wings and live with the limitations again of on-line romance. Neither is free to travel and face-to-face with the other.
When they were 2 and 4, this brother-sister duo joined our family. Hope Morgan and Samuel Leland were in foster care and God knew they needed to be Beekmans! Now Hope lives here – only a hour from us in Big Sky – and Samuel (who has special needs) had been living happily in a group home near Sacramento. They are now in their late 20’s.
Hope has two of our three great-grandchildren.
Samuel, in the group home, has been in a quarantine mode since this pandemic hit. Life is pretty empty when you can’t go out – and you can’t have visitors. Some of you may know the feeling. Family Connections are SO important!
Years ago, when the grandchildren were teens, we would often drive or fly to be together as a family. Now the family is spread out over several states and even across into Europe. Family Connections are sooo important to us! We live in Montana, and this group shot was taken at a gathering in California.
In the picture above you see (l to r) nephew Zak, Samuel, Bob’s sister Bonnie, her husband Stan, sister-in-law Ann beside Bob’s brother, Bruce, granddaughter Faith with her sister Hope (I’m between them), Bob, grandson Jordan, and behind him – daughter-in-law Monika (mom of Sam, Jordan, Hope & Faith) and lastly, Bob’s sister-in-law Marge. I think our son, Ty was taking the picture.
Yes, Family Connections are important to all of us!!
Gathering the Flock
When will we be able to gather the flock again? Is there a foreseeable end to this isolation?
Ty and Monika were so concerned about Sam and his isolation in the group home that they went yesterday to get him. He is now living back in the nest! God bless them for responding to the felt need!
Returning to the Nest
Sam may not be able to hug friends and visit up close during this pandemic, but at least from his home, he has his parents to hug, and he can see friends from a safe social distance. He is no longer isolated. Social connections are so important to our mental and physical health!
So, unlike the robin parents, We are free to go and rescue. Thank you, Ty and Monika, For returning Sam to the nest and to you!
God bless you!
Have a Happy Weekend. I hope you have opportunities to make Family Connections. Tell me about them!