Managing Editor's Note: Jan Randall wrote this letter to the editor to East Bay Rhode Island.com.
To the editor:
It’s unfortunate but true that people are usually quick to complain, but slow to say thank you. I am one of those people, but something happened today to remind me why it’s important to make the time to say thank you.
My son Andrew has Autism and Tourettes Syndrome. Today when he went to the Newman YMCA with his mentor, two young men groaned when he walked in the gym and said “Oh NO, not him! That’s all we need right now” loudly enough so she would know they we displeased by their presence. She was troubled by the comment, but ignored it and they went on to shoot some baskets.
What does this rude comment have to do with saying “thank you?” More than you might expect.
Andrew has been going out with his mentors for over 10 years now. Hanging out with other 20-somethings is his chance to just be a regular guy. Over the years Andrew and his mentors, and sometimes even I have experienced rude, ignorant and sometimes down right nasty comments. I am grateful that those experiences have been the exceptions. Mostly what we have experienced is kindness, consideration and generosity and it is time to thank those people and businesses who have been so wonderful to Andrew, his mentors and our family.
To the staff at the Seekonk Driving Range, thank you for all of your kindness and patience even when Andrew’s golfing etiquette isn’t up to par.
Thank you to everyone at Monster Mini Golf. Andrew has been going there since shortly after you opened and all the staff have been wonderful and generous each and every time.
Thank you to the folks at Simcock Farm in Swansea. Andrew went there for the first time in the September 2010. You were so thoughtful and generous, and Andrew had so much fun, that he visited many times last fall. He can’t wait to go back this year!
Thank you to all of the wonder people at the Crescent Park Carousel, for being so nice to Andrew each time he comes and for sometimes letting Andrew and his mentor ride for free.
Thank you to the gentleman who runs The Roger Williams Park Boat House. He took us out for a ride even though the boat wasn’t ready, just because we told you we had only come to the park because we wanted Andrew to have a ride on the electric boat. Because of your kindness Andrew now has a new favorite place to go.
Thank you to everyone at Stop & Shop in Seekonk. Everyone there has never been anything but kind to Andrew and our family. I also want say a very a special thank you to Frank, who always offers a cheerful hello to Andrew, and whoever is with him. Frank, I also want you to know that I really appreciate when you help me find the shortest line when you can see that Andrew is really ready to leave.
To the staff at Newman YMCA and the majority of your members, thank you for being considerate, patient, and for your years of friendship.
I am positive that there are many other people and places I have forgotten to mention, if I forgot you, this message is for you. If you have been patient when Andrew needs time, if you have been are compassionate and let him go ahead because it’s hard for him to wait, if you have offered a kind word when he’s having a hard time, if you said hello, how are you, and took the time for him to process what you said and respond; well, you know who you are.
What I want each and every one of you, (mentioned and unmentioned) to know is that in this rushed world we live in, our whole family and Andrew’s mentors deeply appreciates each and every one of your gestures of kindness and friendship.
And to those young men at the YMCA who made the comment, I only ask that next time you see Andrew stop for one moment and think, what if he was your brother, your cousin, or someday your son. It doesn’t really take any time to be kind and it will be appreciated more than you could ever know.
Jan Randall, and her husband Bob, are the parents of 25 year old Andrew who has Autism, Tourettes and Bipolar and his older sister Allison. Jan has worked with the nonprofit agency, Community Autism Resources for the past 18 years. Her dream is to write a book about her family’s journey. www.community-autism-resources.org