When I hold the door or a gate for someone I usually expect a thank you. When I don’t get one I will very often prompt the people I’ve let through with a somewhat strong toned “You’re welcome!” I simply believe good manners are a good, easy thing.
So I was about to bark “You’re welcome” at an older woman and her adult daughter yesterday as they obliviously chatted their way through the gate I was holding when something in the daughter’s voice, something familiar, stopped me. For whatever reason I could not put my finger on at the time, I bit my tongue and simply kept the “how rude” thought inside my head.
This gate was an entrance to a pool that led to a beach where we are on vacation. I had actually just finished a 10 mile run across this small island, so maybe, I thought, they were just frightened by the smelly runner guy in the funny looking shoes.
An hour or so later I took Brooke out to the beach. At one point, we plopped down in the sand. I sat and watched as she explored the sand. It’s one of her favorite activities at the beach. As I watched her, something caught my eye in the distance. About 100 feet beyond Brooke, the daughter I had held the door for was standing in the edge of the water.
She was observing the waves, I mean really observing them – examining them as they went by her ankles. She then stepped further into the water, stretched out her arms and embraced a series of waves as they came at her one after the other.
The enjoyment was pure – 100% pure – untainted by any thought of what she might look like to others. It was beautiful to watch. Suddenly I realized why her voice sounded so familiar – the tone, the rhythm, the texture of her voice was very much like those of Brooke’s.
Was this young lady autistic? I could not tell you with 100% certainty, but I would not have been surprised. And so I watched, this strange time tunnel – me, Brooke playing in the sand, then just 100 feet beyond her in a straight line, this young lady.
I almost felt as if I may be looking 15 years into the future.
Soon after, the young woman’s mother called her over. She joined her mother and father for a walk along the beach. As they approached, the young woman flapped her arms ever so slightly and I was tempted to ask the whole family a plethora of questions, all variations of “how have the last 15 years been?” but I remained seated in the sand, watching them stroll away while keeping a watchful eye on Brooke.
I don’t know their story, but I did get to see one snapshot of their lives.
That one snapshot was beautiful.