It was only normal for the neighbors to call 911 when they heard the torturous screams of a child from the house next door. Not so normal was for the police to be greeted by two soaking wet parents and to find of a toddler, wrapped in a beach towel, positioned beneath three sofa cushions.
It took a great deal of explanation and several phone calls for everyone to understand washing my autistic granddaughter’s hair was like trying to baptize cats and how sandwiching her between sofa cushions provided total body compression which was a comfort to her.
My daughter’s bathroom on “S-Day” (shampoo day) was reminiscent of a well prepared surgical center. The tub was scrubbed and cleared of all objects including the shower curtain and double lined with long bath mats for padding. A rubber shower head with soft rubber hose was attached to a padded faucet wrapped in duct tape. Next to the tub were positioned a stack of wash cloths for wiping water from eyes and ears and a cap-less blue bottle of Johnson’s No More Tangles Shampoo for ease of pouring. It took two adults to get the job done and when it was over, Millie, wrapped in Disney Princess towel would sob in ragged breaths that shook her shoulders and broke our hearts.
Now fast forward 15 years to an e-mail attachment I just received of Millie holding a long, blonde pony tail for donation to Locks of Love. She had washed and dried her own hair and happily sat still while a beautician cut it for shipment to Locks of Love where it would be used to fashion a wig for another child suffering hair loss due to illness.
Looking at the photo, thinking back to the days of shampoo and screaming, I was thankful beyond measure for all the Lord has done in Millie’s life and was captivated by her smile. There, in the nearly indistinguishable yet somehow different pose of an autistic child, was a portrait of pure love with no hidden agenda, no ulterior motive, no glory seeking or proud display of generosity.
This sacrificial gesture of love was a living demonstration of the humility Jesus spoke of when He called a little child to come sit with Him as he answered His disciples’ question of who would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. “Verily I say unto you, except you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not even enter the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven”. Matthew 18:2-4
I may not be donating a pony tail to Locks of Love this coming Valentine’s Day but I pray I will be able to offer, in some small measure, a heart like Millie’s to my Lord and Savior and fellow man.