Gary has been in the process of putting up a small shed in our back yard, one that can hold our garden tools and implements. Aaron has been very interested in Gary’s work. Last Saturday, Aaron knew that Gary was going to be once again laboring out in the heat. He wanted to go out and help Gary, so after Aaron got his morning routine accomplished, he walked with purpose to the shed site to see what he could do.
Aaron doesn’t have great manual dexterity or skill, but Gary didn’t say a word about that fact. He welcomed Aaron, even as he was searching in his mind for a job that Aaron could help with at that particular point.
He told Aaron that he could help by handing him the screws when he needed them as he worked on securing the floor to the frame underneath. But for some strange reason, Aaron said that he didn’t want to touch the screws with his hands.
So Gary told Aaron to hold the box of screws, which Aaron was very happy to do. When Gary needed a screw, he would reach into the box that Aaron held and get one out.
Now Gary didn’t really need Aaron to hold the box of screws. Gary could have easily just scooted the box around and keep it handy as he worked. But he would never have hurt Aaron’s feelings by not giving him a job to do.
There Aaron sat, in the hot sun, holding the box for Gary. And talking, I’m quite sure. Talking about his Star Wars game…….his Star Trek television show that he is watching……the latest movie he has decided to watch……and any number of other things that really only Aaron is interested in.
I’m also quite sure that Gary would have much preferred some solitude outside……time to work alone after a long week of endless people and situations at work…….time to hear the birds……time to ponder his own thoughts. But Gary saw beyond his own desires, and saw Aaron’s. He knew how much Aaron wanted to help and he knew how much it would mean to Aaron to do so.
I believe, too, that Aaron wanted to do a man’s job. Time with a man, especially time with his dad, fills a need in Aaron that he probably doesn’t even recognize.
It did my heart so much good to look outside and see the two of them working together. It did my heart good because I knew that it was doing Aaron’s heart even better. And it was very pleasing to Gary to give Aaron that opportunity, but even more that Aaron wanted that opportunity to help.
Such a simple time it was, and not one that lasted all that long. But the impact on Aaron was huge, one that will last much longer than the actual helping did.
Aaron walked inside later. “Dad said I helped!” he proudly told me. And I praised him for that, which made him smile and rub his hands together in delight before he went on his way.
Gary and I don’t have all the answers to Aaron’s needs. On some days and in many ways, we feel like we blow it, for sure. But I looked at this scene on that hot Saturday and I knew that Gary got it right.
Being a dad is incredibly important, and for a dad of a child with special needs, it’s also incredibly difficult at times.
How thankful I am for this man who has stood by my side for all these years! He has stood unbending through hard times, but he has also bent down plenty of times to meet Aaron where he is.
Happy Father’s Day to Gary!