On my last post I said I would share some of the thoughts that the story of Eddie Rickenbacker sparked in my mind; of how others perceive us and how we perceive others.
While living in California, you may recall that I was in the printing business for many years and our shop was located in an older area on West Main Street. Many of the buildings were outdated and needed a lot of TLC. Located on the same block were a Drug and Alcohol Rehab Center, Dry Cleaners, an Asian Grocery Store, a Law Firm, Multi-Cultural Arts Center, Comic Store, Gun Shop, Jewelry Store, Sewing Machine Repair Shop, a Bank and a Computer Store, a great little Café and a closed Movie Theater. At the beginning of the very next block was a very old Hotel which at that time, housed lower income people, some who were slightly mentally impaired and also some who were just released from prison. I share all of this to give you an idea of the people in that small area of downtown and the many different walks of life from which they came.
In the story of Eddie Rickenbacker, the author mentioned that “Ed might seem like ‘a funny old duck.” There were several people I saw on a daily basis who fit that description. I don’t know much about them or what happened in their lives that put them in the circumstances they were in.
There was one woman I think everyone in town either knew of or had at least heard of her. She (sadly) was referred to as “Crazy Mary”. She was a woman of slight build with pure white hair. She always pushed a grocery cart and had a small dog on a leash with her. She walked many miles daily. She usually wore a dress and sweater and always looked cleaned and well kept. I was told that she had lost her entire family in a fire, as well as her previous dog and that she pretty much lost her mind after that. I really don’t know if that is her story or not, but it was the same one I got each time she was mentioned.
There were others who frequented our store often and it was obvious they had problems of different kinds. Most of them were very sweet and almost childlike and sometime I would have to gently remind them that I had to “get back to work” as they all seemed starved for attention and would spend the whole day at work with me if I would let them. I never discouraged them from coming in, they all seemed to like me, but I liked them and often marveled at their great attitudes and innocence. Many people didn’t want to be bothered with them and ignored them.
There was one woman though that frightened me on more than one occasion. She was supposed to be on medication and often refused to take it. The times that she didn’t take it she became very violent. She would get upset with the copy machine and start hitting it and cussing at it. I would have to ‘intervene’ and that upset her even more. I could tell from her eyes that she would do me great harm if I wasn’t very careful. I had to call the police on her once as she was so out of control and she became very combative with the officer’s. Other times she would have arguments with someone only she could see and hear.
Some who came would without fail, tell me the same stories over and over, stories of long ago. I was in that same location for sixteen years and had contact with these people, often on a daily basis. The ones I have mentioned were just a small part of our customers, their purchases certainly could not have kept the doors open, yet after all these years I can still recall all of their names, their faces and their specialness. I look back now and wonder if God put them in my life to help me understand how each one of his children has a purpose and to help me understand my own precious daughter Annette.
If you have been reading my blog from the beginning you may recall that my second daughter Annette was born profoundly mentally handicapped, she has never uttered one word and she is now 43 years old. You can read about her in the archives under “Annette”. Over the years because of the seriousness of some of her medical conditions I have had numerous phone calls from doctors and hospitals telling me that she wouldn’t make it through the night. They were giving me their honest medical opinions, what they don’t know is that God still has a purpose for her. She is still touching lives in her very own special way.
I know I have rambled, I just want to encourage you, the next time you come across what may appear to be a “funny old duck” try looking for their specialness. You may be blessed beyond measure.
Finally, remember what was said about Jesus. Many thought him to be someone or something other than the Messiah; he was cruelly treated and called many names. He was feared, lied about, misunderstood and finally put to death.