I met Greg when he was 40. He was a quiet guy, as a matter of fact he didn’t talk at all. He was very skinny…all of 100 lbs. soaking wet. Fair skin and red hair. I wonder if he had Irish ancestry? I helped to take care of Greg the summer of my 19th year. I worked in a group home for developmentally disabled adults. You see Greg was severely and profoundly mentally retarded. He didn’t talk. He was in a wheelchair. He had to be fed and diapered. Greg’s mother had taken care of Greg all his life, but now she was in her 70’s and had become to frail herself to lift in her arms this son she loved. She visited him often and was quick to remind us what Greg needed. I think it helped her, more than it helped us as caregivers…and that was okay.
Greg taught me lessons that summer. Lessons I would have never learned in my college textbooks, or through my college professor’s lectures. I learned that I could have all the knowledge of special education in the world, but the most important thing an individual has to have to relate to someone with special needs is heart. I learned over those months how to have a servants heart. How to give to someone who is unable to give back to me. How to care for someone who couldn’t even smile at me.
I showered Greg and he promptly thanked me by getting sick on me. I cleaned us both. I fed Greg and he spit and drooled his dinner back out. I talked to Greg about current events, showed him books and catalogs, and we watched TV together. His eyes didn’t show comprehension. I rolled him into the kitchen with me while I fixed dinner. I talked with him, never knowing if he understood a word. I changed his diapers, and tried to give him the dignity that he deserved.
That summer I talked with God about Greg. I knew that God has given me a heart and passion for individuals who had special needs. My desire was to fulfill my dream of being a special education teacher. A dream God had given me years earlier. Yet, that summer I questioned God. I asked Him why? I didn’t understand. It was painful for me sometimes…to watch people who were so dependent on others. What was their purpose? Why did God allow them to have no control over themselves?
I am thankful God is GOD. He is all knowing. He is patient. He knows me and allows me to find my way through these difficult things of life. It began to occur to me that God LOVES Greg. He had not abandoned him. He had not forgotten him. He DID serve a purpose. Greg taught me a lesson about serving others. Having a servants heart. Caring for someone when they can’t love you back. Being gentle in a harsh world. Making an extra effort when others may think it a waste. The lessons that God allows are far more valuable……
That was 23 years ago. I don’t know if Greg is even still alive. I do know that he touched my life. For the better. Thank you, God….and thank you, Greg.