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I Like You Too Arty

My firstborn and only son, turned 17 this week.  He melted my heart one day last week when I witnessed him helping a costumer at Far North Outfitters where he works most afternoons; I went in there to buy him a birthday present, instead he gave me one of the proudest moments a mama could ever have. 

It was the way he helped Arty.  Arty is an older person of severe mental challenges.  He can hardly form words let alone whole sentences. There is usually liquid dripping from his nostrils and a weeks worth of whiskers on his weathered, bony face.  Arty drives his bike right through traffic in town sure as can be no harm will come his way, neither looking to the right or left or behind. He does not use hand signals so no one knows if it is safe to pass him. Most people don't.

Arty was in the store that afternoon looking lost until he saw Laife walk in, then Arty's face lit up like a Christmas tree. He walks toward Laife eagerly saying, "I wa Yu," his tone both a grunt and wail. "Hep me," he put one arm around my son's neck and I could almost feel the nasal drip that was sure to land on my son's cheek.

Laife's response was to politely wriggle out of the embrace and make conversation, "What can I help you with, Arty?" they move toward the thermal sock bin as Arty continues to explain by drawing pictures into the air and making throat noises.  Laife begins to show him different sizes as it seems Arty is having trouble finding the right size. He needed a "One U!" Arty manages to draw into the air a one and a two side by side. 

"Oh, a size twelve?" Laife finally figures out.  "Yea...Yeath!" Arty is happy.  "I yike ooh, Afe," another sloppy embrace follows.  

Toria, cooler younger sister, looks over the t-shirts wondering, who is this creep acting so strange with my brother? and how can he be so nice to this slobbering weirdo? and he is save my brother!

At the register Arty also likes the cashier.  The cashier likes Arty back. There are hugs exchanged and goodbyes made, while Laife and his boss are still relaxed and grinning and being nice to Arty.

Shoot...I like Arty by the time it is over.  My child just made an extension of God's love to one of the most unloveliest people in town and I am proud.  My heart glows with wonder at how my own dear boy knew how to treat someone "different", how at ease he was and how naturally kind he was.

Happy Birthday, Son, may you always find the unlovely to love; may you always be gentle and kind to the odd, for this is how all men will know you love Jesus.


  1. Keep writing, Shilah, these titbits will be a help in future years and stories and books. Writers have insights of the deep value of life and things in life. He waited on Sid this same day and treated us with regard and we were delighted too. Grandma Ruth

  2. Good writing. Good kid. And I identify. We get the odd customer, too, at our store and Clair is really good at going even beyond kindness when they come in. He works on relationship and how can we help beyond our little store. The one guy especially can hardly be understood, but Clair has listened closely for a few years now and he knows that here is a valued customer, not so much for what he buys and he does in spite of his looks and handicaps, but simply because he is a person. That's the only reason God needs to love us. How can we improve on that?!


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