The Man at the Pool

There’s a man in our town that’s as much of a fixture as the water tower or the high school on the hill. If you’ve lived in our town for more than 10 years, you know this man. He’s about 50 now and he has mental retardation. He comes to all of the high school sporting events, especially football. He helps “direct” the band and they even gave him a varsity jacket. He rides his bike around town all year round and he spends his summer days at the local pool.

He fascinates me. I am always drawn to adults with special needs. I want to look in their eyes and see if they’re happy and if they’ve had a good life. I want to pick their mother’s brains to see how they made it through.

A couple of weeks ago, while he was at the pool, someone stole his bike. Like I said, if you live here, you know him and you also know his bike. It was terrible. The police were called but they didn’t find it. He was distraught. I was so angry for him because, of course, I could imagine what it would be like for Olivia. The next day he came over and talked to me. He said that his brother was coming and that’s why he set up his chairs. His brother was a doctor and they were going to a baseball game at 7:00. I love talking to him, I really do. He’s so sweet. His brother came and was talking to him and asked him how he got there. He said his Mom dropped him off because he still didn’t have his bike. His brother said “Come with me for a minute.”

This man returned and had the biggest smile on his face and shouted “A new bike! Dr. So and So (he calls his brother Dr!) got me a new bike!” I, of course, had tears in my eyes just at his excitement and at his brother’s caring. But then the teenage lifeguards, who he sits with each and every day, all got excited and said “Bring it here! We want to see it!” They were all thrilled for him and were genuinely happy for him and cared about him.

I was a puddle after that.

It just touched me so. I worry so much about how Olivia will be treated, especially as she gets older, and about who will take care of her. It just showed me a glimpse into how you really can have a village to help.

His Mom came too to see all of the excitement. He had told me earlier that they were having a party for her later because she was turning 80. I so wanted to go bend her ear. I wanted to ask her so many questions and glean anything I could from her wisdom of 50 years of parenting a child with special needs. But I didn’t and instead just sat there watching the love through my tears and hoping that Olivia will be that lucky to have so many people who love her and watch out for her when she’s 50.

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16 responses to “The Man at the Pool

  1. Jennifer Casebolt

    When I first starting reading this and heard his bike was stolen , I was heart broken. He is the sweetest man and I cant believe someone would do that. Thank God for kind people! 🙂 Thanks for sharing the story! Olivia is such a kind, funny, smart girl with a bright smile and people are drawn to her, I have no doubt that she will have people surrounding her that will love and take care of her 50 years from now! 🙂

  2. Growing up there was a man who was the “Mayor of Milford” he walked to everyday at his job as a bag boy at Kroger and would wave to everyone. He is very outgoing and truly a loved part of my former community. I think those moms were the true pioneers they had to really fight to get their child an education and keep them out of institutions when that was the thing to do. I think many times they had to go with what they felt was right with very little support system there were not any online communities and few support groups within their community and within their home for the most part. They went with what they felt was right and survived. It is a wonderful tribute to The man’s mother that she has raised 2 wonderful sons who care about each other and are successful.

  3. What a wonderful, amazing, story. I love hearing about how adults with special needs are loved by their community. You must live in a very wonderful town!

    I was in a puddle as I read this!

  4. funny that you mentioned how he sits with the lifeguards. the other day, lilly referred to him as a lifeguard. she thought he worked at the pool! 🙂

  5. What a wonderful family and community this man lives in and with. You all should be proud of yourselves!

  6. we have a man like that here in my hometown. the owners of a local restaurant have basically taken him in and he has his own special booth there where you can find him pretty much any minute of any day. everyone knows him. i haven’t seen him in awhile and thought that maybe he’d passed away (i always thought he was older than he is!) but we saw him just the other day sitting on a bench outside the restaurant! i can’t imagine our little town without “harry”.

  7. Awww! I love him! My kids love him too!I can’t believe someone stole his bike…you never think that’s going to happen in Sylvania!

  8. As soon as I saw the title, I knew who you were talking about 🙂 I love seeing him around town and I think everyone really does enjoy his company.

  9. This post makes one think and feel deeply.

  10. Of course I knew who you were talking about after reading the first sentence! Until I read the end I was ready to write a letter the the Herald, knowing we could get enough donations to buy him a new bike. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for him not to have it!

  11. That’s a beautiful story. And whoever stole his bike has AWFUL karma coming their way.

  12. Love this Tiff! Brought tears to my eyes as well, thanks for sharing

  13. What a sweet story! Thanks for sharing it.

  14. midlifemommy07

    That gave me goosebumps. Olivia seems to have lots of caring people that love her! She will always be loved!

  15. I knew exactly who you were talking about and enjoy talking to him also. I wasn’t aware he had a brother who is a doctor, thanks to him for the quick recovery on the bike situation!

  16. Oh, my gosh! I was just trying to finish moving the ol’ Momplex over from Blogger to WordPress, and in the process I was reviewing my blogroll, trying to figure out how to move that, too. I hadn’t seen anything from you in so long, and in trying to move the link to your site, I realized you’ve moved over to WordPress, too! It is so nice to “see” you again. And what a spectacularly moving post. Even though I don’t have a special needs child or relative, I’m drawn to special needs children and adults, too. When I was pregnant with my first, I was warned that I had a significantly high risk for having a baby with Down’s, so I spent much of that pregnancy looking around the world and noticing all the special needs people around me. And how contented and downright radiant so many of them seemed. I hope Olivia will always have the village you hope for her to have. I’m sure more people than it seems, personally know or are related to individuals with special needs.

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