Christmas and Children’s Blessings

“Every child comes with the message

that God is not yet discouraged of man.”

-Rabindranath Tagore

 

When he was born life did not hold much promise for him.  His mother used illegal drugs, maybe even during the pregnancy.  We know little or nothing of his father.  The state assumed custody shortly after birth, and he was transferred to Faith House, a place that took care of children in similar circumstances.  He was small, and sickly.  There were several hospital stays in his first year of life.  The odds were stacked against him.

A single mother who had three teenage daughters of her own volunteered at Faith House.  They took an interest in him, maybe because of his sweet disposition; maybe because he was so obviously in need of help.  They visited the place; frequently.  Soon they were allowed to take him to their home for the weekend.  A bond quickly developed.  The baby uttered shrieks of joy when either of them showed up to see him, and he cried for hours at a time when the time came for them to part.

His outlook began to improve.  The visits to the doctor became less frequent, although by no means were they rare.  The times with his new family stretched out.  Eventually they were allowed to take him to his new home on a permanent basis.  A formal adoption followed.

Everyone pitched in.  Doctors agreed to see him for less than their normal fees.  One of the elite West County elementary schools took him in as a scholarship student.  There was always someone available to take him wherever he needed to be, or just sit and play with him, or hug him.

This massive investment in time and energy did not go unrewarded.  It was clear to everyone who came in contact with him that this was a special child.  He was sweet; kind; generous; unselfish.  He loved his school.  They spent a lot of time figuring out how best to teach him, and again, he made it worth their while.  He progressed along with all of his classmates.  At times he excelled.

There were hints of greatness.  When he was seven one of his sisters was driving him to a function.  They were late.  The gentleman who was driving the car ahead of them went at a very slow pace.  She became impatient; she made a remark as to how annoying this slow driver had become to her.

“I’m sure that he’s doing the best he can,” he said.

An indication that the child was beginning to teach the adults that surrounded him.

The visits to the doctor became even more infrequent.  He grew stronger, and faster.  By that I mean to say that his family found out that he was an athlete.  He could run like the wind.  Every game seemed to come easy to him.  He enjoyed the discipline of practice; the commitment to teammates.  It seemed like overnight he developed a man’s body.  He was a jock.

For junior high he enrolled in a demanding school, both in sports and academics.  Every year he did better than the year before in both endeavors.  He did not need to be reminded of homework and other commitments as frequently.  His teachers gave him more responsibility.  His mother began to receive letters of commendation.  Awards became the expected outcomes.

His sisters finished their educations; got good jobs; got married; moved into their own homes.  He acquired three brothers who became half fathers to him.  Now he had four homes; four places where he could walk into the kitchen, open a pantry, and serve himself to whatever he wanted.  He was comfortable in all of them.

Today, this child who could have been easily forgotten by society is an outstanding young man.  He does well in football, and track, and basketball.  He consistently brings home grades above a 3.7 average.  Every day he receives letters from elite colleges who would like for him to apply; places that will likely offer him scholarships.  He has qualified to join a leadership program.  He has already traveled to Washington DC to familiarize himself with the legislative process.

Most important: he continues to be a sweet, kind, generous, loving human being.  He comes for dinner to my house every Sunday, and even though he’s not legally my son I look at him the same way I look at my daughters, who happen to be his sisters.

There were so many things that could have gone wrong…  It would have been so easy to give up on him; after all, why should society have expected anything out of this situation?

It takes a village.  No; it takes a country.

I read the newspapers.  I see where our legislators do not want to expand Medicaid coverage.  The same public service that made it possible for this young man to survive, and thrive.

Faith House no longer exists.  I’m sure that they did not have enough money.  The same place that provided a warm and safe environment for him, when he needed it the most.

We complain about taxes, and big government.  Yet it was this money that has allowed this young man to become a potential superstar; someone who will pay a lot of taxes in the future so that other people just like him can make a success of their lives.

Our president has spoken of the need to provide the same opportunities that this young man has had to every single child who’s born in this country.  A majority of people don’t feel like this will be money well spent.  The proposal has gone nowhere.

This Christmas, remember your blessings.  Keep in mind that they are not things that are handed to you.  Instead they are opportunities that life has given you to do the right thing.  Blessings are not winning lottery tickets; they are commitments that will suck endless hours of hard work out of you; needs that will drain you of money you would like to spend otherwise.

Look at your children.  Think about how happy they make you; how glad you are that they are part of your life.  How blessed you are.

Somewhere, close to you, there is a child who would love to have just a tiny part of what you have to offer.  A warm home.  A clean, effective, safe school.  A blessing waiting to happen.  What will you do about this?  What would Jesus do?

Image

Aaron Garriga poses in front of the Redbird that hangs in my living room.

Leave a Reply

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Linda Ormsbee

    This story makes me realize that I don’t do enough for others. As a compliment to you, Dr. Garriga, you make me want to be a better person.

  2. Thank you; I know you mean it. There are close to 2 billion people in the world that have been exposed to the Judeo-Christian ethics system. If we could only take the time to help to educate or train one, just one other person, we can make a huge difference.

  3. carole

    What a wonderful story I’m so glad he is a part of your life he has been blessed with a wonderful family

  4. Cathy Carmody

    What a truly wonderful story! I love it! I do fear that with all the government cuts our children will suffer. So many more needy children will fall through the cracks. There are a lot of different views about this, but we must vote smart.

    1. We must insist that government do its share, but it’s awfully hard to get most people to accept that when it comes to children we are our brother’s keeper. I’m very discouraged with what politicians do; I think we have to do it ourselves and help one person, just one, a little bit.

  5. Cordell Webb

    Thank you for a beautiful story here at Christmas Time. He is a very lucky young man to have found people who cared and loved him in his early years. I know you are proud of him.
    My wife and I can relate to this story some. We have two children. A boy and a girl. I should say now, a man and a woman. We adopted them when they were still young. They both had been in foster homes and we had them first as foster children. We were able to adopted them later on. Now they are both doing well in their lives. Our son is married and works at Boeing. Our daughter is married and is a nurse and works with children. We now have 4 grandchildren who we get to enjoy. Merry Christmas Dr. Garriga to you and your family.

  6. Vannessa Ramirez

    What a heartwarming story….just in time for Xsmas.

    1. Betty

      I’m having computer problems and I haven’t been able to get to your blog. This is a very heartwarming story. Your family is living Jesus message. Hope you had a great Christmas and 2014 will be wonderfilled.