Friday, May 29, 2009

Matthew Pollick

“You! You don’t even care! Yes I do! O solo mio!”

“Are you married? You should join the F.B. I.”

At 9:05 a.m. each weekday morning a man walks past our house carrying a Dairy Queen cup, conversing animatedly with himself. You never know what the topic will be (or sometimes even is) but without fail, you can set your watch by it. If they’re home and outside at the time, the kids all become silent when they hear him approach. They strain to listen and then smile broadly once he’s passed. They aren’t making fun of him but the things he says never, never fail to crack them up. What amazes them most is that he’s able to sit next to his family in church on Sundays in silence.

We live across the street from the ARC of Tri-Cities (Association for Retarded Citizens—though I don’t think kind-hearted people use the word “retarded” much anymore). We see folks pushing people around in wheel chairs and holding the hands of those able to walk. We hear laughing and joking. Unfortunately we also hear the occasional outbursts that let the kids know things are not quite right. Things that sound scary to them.

Some of us need extra help in this life but there are some basic characteristics we almost all share. The need to be loved. The need to be needed. The need to be understood. In this regard we’re all pretty much the same. Unfortunately it can be all too easy to forget this when confronted with the seeming altogether otherness of people who have intellectual or developmental difficulties.

My longtime neighbor and longer time friend Tia Pollick has a special place in her heart for folks with these challenges. On a regular basis she’s been providing weekend care for a young man with Down Syndrome when his parents have obligations elsewhere. Matthew is a happy guy with a smile for everyone. He tags along with the Pollicks and one can easily see he is loved and belongs when he’s with them. In fact, recently he told them he wanted to change his name to Matthew Pollick. My kids know Matthew and they’re better for the experience.

Last Friday night we all went to Dairy Queen after the piano recital and while he sat enjoying a sundae, he told me he’s moving to Spokane soon. I smiled and told him how exciting it would be to move to the “Big City”, how much fun I was sure he’d have. But I was kind of sad about it. I know he will be missed around these parts.
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1 comment:

  1. My sister would appreciate what you said about kind-hearted people not using the word retarded. Her son has Fragile X Syndrome and is also autistic. She always reminds people not to use that word and expresses how unkind it is. So you are right, kind-hearted people say intellectual disabilities instead of retarded and that something is silly not retarded. But like all bad habits it can be hard to break not saying that word.

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