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"Ma'am your son is very handsome" [View All]

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grantcart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-06-09 01:50 AM
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"Ma'am your son is very handsome"
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I had to meet somebody and McDonalds was the only place both of us knew in the area.

I arrived first and went over to a quiet corner where no one else was sitting.

Three families unloaded their kids who all ran to the corner I was sitting at, the one with the kids games. More experienced restaurant attendees knew not to fall for the quiet before the storm.

After a few minutes a couple walked in. She was 87 years old (I never approximate an age, it seems silly to give a range when someone can give an exact age and appear clairvoyant), regal, strong, determined. She had that 'New England-I-can-my-own-strawberry-jam-and-take-it-down-to-the-food-bank' kind of strength. Since this is California though I suspected that she cheated by doing an hour of yoga everyday.

He was balding, cautious, neat and could have been any other 52 year old, possibly working as a bookkeeper except that he had the smile of a 10 year old. He didn't have Downs or the other conditions that have some physical markers. His smile and the fact that he was trying to suppress a giggle and was holding a 'Happy Meal' made it clear that his mental state was a few decades behind his physical state.

They sat down with the mother's back to me allowing me to quietly watch these two.

It was obvious that this was a weekly ritual. A sacred moment in their week. It was Holy. It was a higher sacrament that any Church will experience on Sunday, the breaking of the cheese burger.

He was allowed to hold the plastic mini jet launcher (which confirmed that the system had indeed honored them with an official 'Happy Meal' with an official 'Happy Meal Giveaway' -not to be handled by children under the age of 6 for fear that they would swallow that part of the sacrament) that was carefully picked out of the paper bag, but he wasn't allowed to open the plastic until the cheese burger was dispatched. Plastic shredded, he clenched the yellow multi jet attack plane while he carefully lifted each french fry and coated it with the exact amount of catsup and let it join the cheeseburger.

I wondered how many hundreds of times that Mom had come and had heard some unkind comment by either an idiot adult or an innocent child.

I wanted to say something to let her know how much I appreciated being able to see her love for her son. Love that had been nurtured for 52 years and never wavered. Love that forced her to do Yoga everyday so that she would be strong for another decade to care for him when there was no one else.

What could I say that wouldn't embarrass her or be condescending? Over 52 years she must have heard hundreds of hurtful things. Certainly I could find something to say that would lift her spirit a bit and not be a sap.

I had several candidates in mind. She got up to go to the bathroom and put a bicycle helmut on him. This seemed to confirm that his condition may be related to a head injury decades ago. As she passed me I decided on the best greeting and said "Ma'am your son is very handsome". I had made the right choice. She beamed. I mean she just glowed sunshine. Sometimes you get lucky and say just the right thing. She knew that I really meant "If all the parents in the world had as much love as you then we wouldn't have a goddamn problem on 7 continents".

When she came out she was still smiling and went to get her son. On the way back she put her hand on my shoulder and said "He is quite striking isn't he!"

It was a certifiable good deed. The Karma Accounting department was being notified in triplicate. I know the score though. If I visit another 24 McDonalds and make another 24 home runs like this one I can even out the negative marks that I got when I reduced the poor Jehovah's Witness girl to tears when she stopped by my door on Monday.
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