Sunday, October 18, 2015

Thankful Sunday--October 18, 2015

I am thankful for a hug.

When we first moved here, there was a shy, little boy, Manny, living next door. Gradually, he and Theo became best friends. Manny was here all of the time playing with the boys, spending the night, and going to soccer practice and Boy Scout meetings with us. We helped him with his homework and gave him friendly advice. I think he liked it over here because it was more stable than what was going on at his house.

Theo and Manny in their younger days
 playing with balloons.
However, long about the beginning of his teen years, he expanded his horizons and started hanging out with the wrong crowd. Skipping school, petty theft, and pot started to be part of his every day life. After one particular event, I told him he was not allowed in our house any more until he showed signs that he was trying to do better. My only requirement was that he cut back on the number of tardies and absences from school. In the meantime, I talked to his family about all kinds of services that could help him, books to read, and people to talk to. However, in their own way, they did what they thought was best and did nothing.

Manny never did make it back into our house. I talked to him several times, but thought it was important to remain firm both for safety reasons and for him to have some consistency in expectations--something that had been mostly lacking from his family. His behavior escalated to major thefts, jail time, drug dealing, and heroin addiction. A very sad thing for everyone--especially Theo.

Throughout the next ten years, he was in and out next door and I never had more than a wave to him. However, the other day he was sitting in his backyard with a friend and I went over and introduced myself to his friend and said hi to Manny. Manny said that it had been a long time and there was an awkward silence. And then he got up and gave me a big hug.

And from that big hug, I felt like the Manny, from years ago, was still in there somewhere and maybe he can find his way again. And for that I am thankful.