I Have Always Depended on the Kindness of Strangers

Well, not in a Blanche DuBois kind of way. Most times strangers at best ignore you or get angry over the most modest of perceived slights. So I was surprised and pleased to the point of tears when yesterday a stranger went out of her way to be nice.

I have an autistic sister. She lives in a group home not to far away. While my Mom still does the heavy lifting for Sandy, my siblings and I take turns entertaining her on a Sunday afternoon. Sandy has limited speech, some behavioral quirks and will never be able to live on her own. Some days she is in more control of herself than others. Yesterday was a little less than more.

We walked around a mall for an hour waiting for Charlotte’s Web to begin. While at no time did she fall to the ground screaming–been there, done that– I could tell that she was more excitable than her best days. Tactical error by older brother. Bought too much popcorn and soda. Sandy needs to finish things. More on that later.

The crowd was young kids and parents. Sandy was talky from the get go. It didn’t manner much during the previews but it continued once the movie began. Not overly loud but constant chatter. Nothing I did would quiet her. With an autistic sister you can handle things two ways. You can be be embarrassed or be her advocate. Yesterday I was a little of both. I tried to get her to stop because I certainly did not want others disturbed but I also realized that there was a baby crying occasionally and other kids talking. I wanted to keep her from overeating but realistically buying a large popcorn did not put my sister in an environment where she could succeed. As I said, Sandy needs to finish things. When I took the popcorn away she would get louder.

Half way through the movie a teenage usher came by and asked us to leave. My sister would have no part of that. I tried to get her to go but knew that screaming would soon occur. So I sat there, nervous and embarrassed, waiting for the usher to come back.

Then the calvary arrived. A woman in the row behind us went over to speak to the usher. She came back and leaned over to say something to me. I was certain that she was going to demand that we leave. To my amazement, she had told the usher to take a hike, that there were other kids standing, talking and making noise. That this is how young kids watch movies and that we should stay.

Sandy was quiet the rest of the movie. Once the popcorn was finished she stopped obsessing over it. I also believe she now understood that she needed to behave better. At the end of the movie my sister was laughing and joyous in a way that only the young at heart can be.

I thanked the woman. I had had a brutal work week and this bit of kindness saved my sanity. We continued to talk and it was a moment before I realized I was being rebuked for not standing up for my sister. Often rebukes by strangers would make me mad but she was absolutely right and she had helped. Then the woman sitting on the other side of Sandy went out of her way to tell me that she was not bothered by my sister’s behaviors. People can be quite understanding sometimes.

There is a lesson or two somewhere in this story.  I think I will ask Sandy to enlighten me.

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About 48facets
What you read is what you get.

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