When I was eleven, we moved to California, my step-father awoke to start his new job only to find someone had stolen all of his glaziers tools, we found ourselves homeless, living in tents at a campground. We didn't know anyone having just arrived. By the homeless community living in the campsite; we were shown kindness; people shared, they helped eachother without expectation of reward. It is just who they were, and it really touched my mother and became part of her.
We didn't have much growing up; eating from dumpsters at times; but she always found something to give. We lived off of 'welfare cheese' (coming from Wisconsin - this was not cheese!) and peanut butter sandwiches for a time, thanks to the foodbank but we were grateful to have it.
One year, she opened a restaurant run by homeless children to give them hope, they showered and slept at our house in shifts. The city shut it down, it was too successful and they couldn't have a restaurant feeding the homeless in exchange for their work and artistry. Some of the things they created were amazing, the skills they posessed only needed a platform. It helped so many in such a short time.
Some of them are still our friends, and have gone on to give that hope to others, and live happily. Others didn't make it through the darkness and depression and every once in a while they cross my mind and tears stream down my face as I find myself mourining their loss; and the potential of their lives.
The cruelty some people endure is mind boggling, yet that small light of love from someone like our mother, made all that darkness fade to the back and a smile replace that look of empty despair. Being aware now of ASD, I believe many of these people are, or were on the spectrum. That hurts my heart even more as they were so lost, alone and misunderstood.
People are not disposable, and being discarded can put out your fire, your very spark that gets you going every day. Yet life has it's way of bringing those angels, like our mother into people's lives and igniting that spark again. That compassion and gratitude can not be learned unless it is witnessed. We were shown how to be that spark through the example of our Mother.
I hope we all remember to be that spark for others, especially during this holiday season, as it is the hardest time of year for many. Even something as small as a smile, kind word, random hug, gifting, buying a meal or a blanket for someone, handing out giftcards, sitting and talking with someone, etc... all can ignite that spark.
I hope we are all are given the opportunity, to be that spark for someone today. ~ In Love