A restroom confessional-“His name is Billy Damn-it!”
I was heading into the restroom at the campground where we were staying and almost ran into a young man standing just inside the door. My initial reaction was one of surprise but then I recognized him. He and his mother had walked past our campsite earlier in the day and we had exchanged waves and smiles. I knew from that sweet face and the child-like innocence that he had Down syndrome and I got a big lump in my throat. My older brother Darrell was born with Down syndrome, so I have always had a soft spot in my heart for these special humans. I assumed then that he was waiting on his mom.
I went on into a stall, just as a rather large lady came into the bathroom. She may have also recognized that he was special since she didn’t seem too concerned about a man/boy being inside the ladies room.
“What is your name?” I heard her ask him in a particularly loud voice. “Billy”. He slowly answered her.
“Petey?” She queried. “Well, Petey, where’s your mom?”
“Billy” he again said softly.
At that moment I heard a toilet flush and his Mom came out. The new lady struck up a conversation with her about second generation, nobody-gives-a-crap stuff and Billy’s mom must be one of those kind souls, just staring at her blabbering mouth, while I was thinking to myself “Just shut the 7*!!^% up lady or at least pause, take a breath or maybe just ask a question.” Since I knew that they were blocking my exit, I just kept waiting and listening inside my 6×4 confessional. The loud lady’s kids were apparently driving her crazy. Her two girls were in the shower and because they couldn’t do anything on their own, she had brought them the towels that they had forgotten. She started down a meandering road of voice vomit that included small chunks of people, places and random bolstering words of things no one under this roof had any idea about. She referred to “Petey” a few more times and I heard Billy’s mom try to correct her but she couldn’t get a word in. Finally, the lady asked how old Petey was and his mother softly said in a very nice but a little sterner tone, “Billy, is 28 years old.”
The lady then said something else about getting the towels to the girls, a random sentence or two about her drunk uncle, car problems and something else I can’t remember and then turned to leave. Over her shoulder, I heard her yell, “Nice to meet you, Petey”.
In unison, Billy, his mom and ME, from the bathroom stall, yelled. “BILLY!” and under my breath I followed that with, “His name is Billy, damn-it!”
My brother Darrell lived to be 46 years old. Even though he was 8 years older than I, we were extremely close. He started out as my big brother, then as I grew up, his mind stayed young, and somehow he became my little brother. He was the heart of our family and we loved him so much. He lived with my parents until his death and there was a big empty hole in our live’s when he left us. Darrell never met a stranger and he loved everyone unconditionally. And even though his mind stayed young, I think he had more love in his heart than anyone I have ever known.
This spring my sweet brother would have been 61 years old and I cannot believe that it’s been more than 15 years since I hugged him or laughed with him. I felt compelled to mention this today to perhaps remind us to always be kind to those that we don’t understand. Always smile at someone with a disability and know that even though they may not be the same as us, they have a purpose that we may never truly understand … oh and when anyone introduces themselves to you and says their name, stop thinking about what your next words will be. Instead, LISTEN and pause for a just a moment and try to warmly embrace this gift you have received of a smile, a name and the sound of someone simply saying hello. In the silence is when we notice……….
What a great story – it’s sad how some people are so self-centered they just don’t listen to anything from anyone else! My only other thought is maybe the woman is hard of hearing? Either way – she made no effort to LISTEN!
So sorry about your brother – I’ve met many people with Down Syndrome and they are always very special – they love and accept people as they are – we could all learn an important lesson from them! So sorry you lost him so young! Hugs! ❤
I could go on reading all you have here but it is 12:15 am and I had better get to bed. Maybe I just could attach a little buggy behind your coach and go with you. Maybe not, too many aches and pains so I will just be blessed by reading about your travels and dream along with you. Be carful and take care!! Much Love!! Lois
Lois, I’ll bring you along on all the many off the beaten paths we take. Your are forever in my heart! I love you!
What a gift is this wonderful post and the story of this young man, the foolish woman and your brother. The insensitivity of some people is hard to believe. Beautifully told Sharon. David’s gorgeous song speaks words of my heart. In the silence is definitely when we notice. Your video combining both stills and video is just fantastic. I sure wish I knew how to do something so creative. The song reminds me of lines from Mary Oliver’s Poem How I Go to the Woods when she too speaks for me opening it by saying “Ordinarily I go to the woods alone, with not a single friend, for they are all smilers and talkers and therefore unsuitable” The poem closes with “I can hear the almost unhearable sound of the roses singing. If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love you very much”. Thank you for this Sharon and David. Where are you now?
Sherry, thank you for your kind words and for sharing Mary Oliver’s poem with us. I truly love it! We recently read a book by Andy Andrews that you would enjoy, “The Noticer.” You and your David are definitely among the ‘noticers’. We are in Tennessee now. Big hugs to you both.
Love this post sweetheart. Your writing makes me laugh, it makes me feel, and always reminds me what a very special person you are,
Thank you Tracy!
That is hysterical on one hand and sad on the other. One of our favorite thing about you and David is that you do take time to “Notice!!” Such touching words about your brother…would love to have met him:o))
Sometimes I just notice how some people can be so rude and inconsiderate! 🙂 But, that then makes me really appreciate all of the goodness in the rest of the world. Darrell would have loved you and Bill!
Still one of my favorite stories!!!