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Ignoring Handicaps

In a small town in the midwest where I spent six years of my early youth, there lived a mentally retarded adult named Myron. It was during Depression years and there was no place for Myron to be “kept” but at home. He lived there with his mother and they survived on the work that Myron did as a gardener.

He had a proverbial “green thumb,” and the places where he did the gardening were easy to identify. The lawns, shrubs, hedges, flowers–all showed care, skill, and loving attention. Myron also did “volunteer” work. He cut grass, raked leaves, and planted flowers in what would otherwise have been unsightly vacant lots. He was probably best known for his “oil can.” He always carried a small can of lubricating oil in his hip pocket. A squeaky door or hinge or gate always got a “free” dose from Myron's oil can.

Never a Sunday went by that Myron was not in church with his mother.

Yes, we boys tried to “tease” him. But he always got the better of us because he refused to be anything but cheerful, full of good humor, and totally unflappable.

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Myron died a few years after I left town to attend college. It was not easy to arrange, but I went back for the funeral. I was not prepared for what I saw. It seemed that everyone in town had decided to attend the funeral and there were scores of others, like myself, who had traveled from distant places to be there.

Without consciously attempting to do so, Myron had patterned for us the kind of life that really matters. No, he had not achieved fame, fortune, or honor. But he had been a worker, an optimist, an “easer of tensions” and a faithful churchman. He was a man who “overcame” a handicap that he didn't even know he had.

–James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) pp.272-273 .