Do you watch Antiques Roadshow? It’s one of the few TV shows that Mr. Andi and I both enjoy. In particular, I love the stories of people who found an old painting/sculpture/lamp/whatever at a flea market or covered in dust in an antique shop, took one look at it and realized they’d found something special. Sometimes, the treasure seeker talks of how his spouse mocked him for the purchase. But he knew he had something special. He was just waiting for someone else to see it, too.
Last weekend, Mr. Andi went fishing with some friends. The kids and I ran a few errands and then headed to a local restaurant for burgers (Sarah Kate), chicken (Nathan) and fried shrimp (me). We were seated near the door, a perfect location for Nathan to smile at everyone who came in or out. Most people smiled back, and a few spoke to him. One lady in particular took a special interest in Nathan. We’ve encountered what I call The Linger before – when people hang around him, making idle chit chat, and finally mention that they have a family member with Down syndrome.
While she was speaking to us, another man who was with her walked up and talked to Nathan, as well. Sure enough, the man’s daughter/woman’s granddaughter is nine years old and has Down syndrome. She came in a few minutes later, adorable in her slim glasses (I love kids in glasses!) Both the woman and the man fussed and fawned over Nathan, and the man asked permission to take his picture. He asked Nathan if he wanted to go home with him, and Nathan extended his arms toward the man in affirmation.
About two dozen people walked by Nathan before this family came in. Almost all of them noticed him. Many smiled at him. A few even took time to briefly acknowledge him by saying “hey there” or telling me how cute he is. But they all went on their way – home to watch television, to the counter to order their meal, or to their table to eat their fried seafood.
This family – which by now had grown to include mom, dad, daughter, and various other relatives – sat down behind us and we spent the rest of our meal visiting and sharing. The man told me how glad he was to meet another local family whose lives had been touched by Down syndrome. It was getting late, so we said our goodbyes and exchanged numbers. I headed out and the man helped me out to the car. After I buckled Nathan into the car seat, the man waved and told Nathan goodbye.
The man reminded me of the people I see on Antiques Roadshow. He saw what others didn’t. He knew that he’d found a rare treasure. A steady stream of people passed Nathan by, but this man stopped and examined him, taking special note of his unique features – the almond eyes and the palmar crease that make my son a priceless work of art.