Yesterday I went to Wolf’s Westside Automotive Service for an oil change. I had been there the previous day to have my tire patched. When I came in for my tire, the front door was propped open, the garage bay doors rolled up, and a refreshing breeze flowed through the lobby.
Yesterday was just that much warmer, so the bay and front doors were closed; a unit air conditioner cooled the lobby.
The owner, Pete, came into the lobby from the garage, sat down across from me, and delivered an update on my car’s service. Our conversation transitioned from the car to fitness and then into a story about his friend who has an adult daughter with Down syndrome. Though I don’t know Pete beyond the walls of his garage, in his storytelling, I heard true understanding. To attain that, without a child of his own with Ds, requires an openness to understand.
His shared story, and openness, were especially timely and meaningful to me as I’ve recently experienced the challenge of closed minds at a new level. I admit I’m somewhat naive in this area; thankfully. My fighting skills are weak; again thankfully. This town has always embraced Wil. I’ve needed to advocate, yes, but advocation is a conversation when you advocate with open minds.
With Wil getting older and other certain circumstances, I have now experienced lack of understanding, and the unwillingness to understand, on a broader level.
It’s hard to explain this life because a little means a lot. How do I explain, that every time I drive in the car with Wil, and he belts out Luke Bryan lyrics with complete accuracy, the elation I feel? That every word he forms beams me back to stretched-out years patiently waiting and diligently working on forming his first words? I have a million such stories.
All I need is a little crack in the door of a mind to get through. And yet, I physically feel the air fall dead between myself and a mind that is closed. I find this disconnection rarely intentional, and not meant to be hurtful. It’s not lack of experience with a disability that is the issue, it’s the unwillingness to open a door to understanding. Even the slightest creak of a hinge is all I ask. But for reasons of their own, deep within, they don’t want to know. The door remains closed. I find ways to keep knocking.
But not yesterday. There I sat, in our small town, for an oil change of all things, and with the natural flow of conversation a story was shared with full understanding. There was no knocking, no prying, no trying. The air conditioning was working, but all I felt was a needed breath of fresh air.
A little can mean a lot.