Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Belting thy Neighbor

One of L's neighbors died. The remaining three were standing on the porch last night when we pulled up, watching a storm roll in and talking about Heaven.

"Charlie died," said the ringleader. "I went to his funeral, and now he's in Heaven... up there!" He pointed to the sky, excited.

I smile. "Yes, Charlie's in Heaven now. You should pick out a star for him." They didn't hear me. They were too busy laughing about the lightening. L's neighbors are what the politically correct would call "special". They all have Down's Syndrom.

I stood there in the driveway, watching them laugh with each other and look up in wonder at the stars, and thought of a story L told me.

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A month or so ago, L was vaccuuming his living room (which he does compulsively... L's a bit of a neat-freak), and one of his neighbors came knocking on the door (beating it down, if you ask L). He doesn't recieve many visitors, I guess; at least, not many unexpected ones. When he opened the door, he was face to face with a very agitatated neighbor, who happened to have his pants around his knees.

"It's broken!" he scowled, thrusting a belt at L. After a few minutes of trying to mend it, L realized he wouldn't be able to repair whatever damage had been done to the belt. He went upstairs to his closet, and came back with one of his own belts. The neighbor simply stood there, holding his shirt up, so L knelt down and actually threaded the belt through the pant-loops, then fastened the buckle.

Pants safe and secure around his waist, the neighbor waggled a finger at L. "You fix that, okay? You fix it!" he admonished, walking back towards his own door. That afternoon, on his way home from work, L stopped at the store and bought another belt.

When he knocked on the neighbor's door, the caregiver, who lives with them, didn't have any idea that some one had L's belt. "Hold on for just a moment," she said, disappearing into the house. She returned with a shopping bag filled to overflowing with belts. "Is it in here?" she asked, holding the sack out for L's perusal.

I don't know if they purchased all those belts, or if it was a collection of other peoples' belts that the guy showed up at home with, and she just collected them in a sack, thinking their owners would come in search of them later on. L didn't think to ask.

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I'm unsure if Charlie was the belt-bandit, or if it was one of the men standing on the porch laughing at Nature's fireworks. I don't know, if he's alive, if the man who stood on L's doorstep with his pants down even remembers it. I guess there isn't any way of knowing. At that moment, I simply appreciated the innocence and wonder with which they view the world, and made a mental note to remind myself to appreciate the beauty around me.

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