Last night, we took a potluck meal to the group home where Jason lives.
“We” is my husband David’s small group at church. It’s made up of David and several other couples who got together each week during the school year. I don’t go, because David asked me to go to a different group that his coworker, Dawn, was leading for women only. Since I made some pie and was free last night, I got to go with him to the potluck.
Jason attends David’s small group, too, even though he is developmentally disabled. Since he can’t really participate in the discussions, David and the other men would take turns visiting Jason on Saturday and reading the lesson to him.
We arrived at the house as Marvel and Shari were setting out the food outdoors on a special picnic table made for wheelchairs. Jason lives with three others, Jeremy, Mike, and Dan, and an amazing caregiver named Chris. Marvel’s husband, Jim, and Shari’s husband, Steve, were at the end of the table exclaiming over Jeremy’s rocket powered wheelchair. Mike and Dan were being entertained by Jeff and Mandy’s two-year-old daughter. I set my pies on the end of the table and looked around. “Where’s Jason?” I asked Shari.
She pointed to the window, where the curtains began to flutter madly. “Inside,” she said. “He doesn’t do well in groups, and he didn’t want to come outside.”
“Oh,” I said. I was glad that he would at least get to try the food, because we were planning on leaving all the leftovers for them.
I had been a little apprehensive about coming, since I know everyone but I don’t know them very well. I sat and talked with Shari, and watched as Jason’s housemates ate like there would be no more food tomorrow. Jeremy, in his wheelchair, nodded at David. David got up and and held Jeremy’s cup to his mouth so he could drink. Jason continued to watch out the window, and I wondered if he would decide to come out and join us eventually.
As Chris was helping herself to a piece of my rather runny strawberry rhubarb pie, half of it fell off of the spatula as she tried to get it onto her plate. Jeremy started laughing, and even though it didn’t sound like an ordinary laugh, I smiled at the thought that he found that funny. Chris did too, and she playfully scolded him for making fun of her. Later, she told me that she knows, under all the disabilities, that Jeremy is really very intelligent.
We stayed for about an hour, then cleaned up and headed home. It really wasn’t an evening I had been looking forward to, but it was an evening I won’t forget for quite a while. It opened my eyes to a world I don’t often see, or feel equipped to participate in, but like Jason hiding behind the curtains, I need to get out and experience all the things that give purpose to life.
I think we are going to do it again next month, and I’m looking forward to it.