Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Mr. Rollo

A lonnng time ago, after Joshua had been in kindergarten a while, it became apparent that the teacher he could use a little help.

Enter: Mr. Rollo

Mr. Rollo had been in the business world for a long time, and he had been retired a long time. He was old...like, he had to be 80. I believe he was a widower and he had grown children our parents' age...and grandchildren our age. 

Mr. Rollo wanted to give back to the community...wanted something meaningful to fill his days...so he signed up to be a mentor/helper in Joshua's special-ed class.

Note: We call Joshua "Fred" as a nick-name, and so the first time we said "special-ed," he thought we were saying, "special-FRED." So, you know my family...we ran with it. And that's what we call it now.

There were 3 boys in the special-fred class who were all about the same age: Robert, Matthew and Joshua. Don't even get me started on how kids with intellectual challenges are put in the same group as kids with severe behavioral issues...but in this small school, they were all lumped together, and these three were thick as thieves. And one (or three) of them may have even been a thief. Just sayin'.

And one of them may or may not have gotten in BIG TUB-OH for bringing a wooden rubber band gun to school that his parents bought him in Branson. Rumor has it.

Also let me just say right now that what one didn't think of...and trust me, they thought of a LOT...the other 2 would. And did.

Mr. Rollo had no idea what he was getting himself in to. I told Jim that by the end of the school year, Mr. Rollo would probably be kicking himself and saying, "WHY. OH WHY didn't I just play golf...because it would be SO much easier!" 

But Mr. Rollo would come in and help the boys with their reading and some writing and generally just try to keep up with them all. Bless his heart. He was always dressed immaculately. Such a fine, sweet man. He tried so hard. I don't know if he ever truly knew the impact he had on Joshua, and on our family.

Mr. Rollo was about the age of Jim's grandfather. I remember after we had Joshua, Jim's grandfather had a hard time with it. He told me that he knew of someone who "had a child like that" and that they "kept him in the back room." In his day, where he was from, children with Down Syndrome were an embarrassment, a shame. Kept in the back room.

If Mr. Rollo ever thought that way before he started volunteering at the school...I didn't know. He didn't seem apprehensive, but maybe he was. He told me he was amazed at how much Joshua was like his own kids. And Joshua adored Mr. Rollo.

Our family became very friendly with Mr. Rollo. He was dating a woman from our church who had been widowed, so we saw him quite often on Sundays. He had some money, and he even donated a piano to our church. Now, I didn't know where he was in his spiritual journey, I'll just tell you what he told me...

Joshua changed him.

You see, with Joshua, even at an early age...things were black and white. You love Jesus...or you love Jesus. Those were your two choices. I think I've written before how Joshua doesn't have a problem saying what is on his mind. For example, here and here and here.

But, Joshua touched a part of Mr. Rollo's heart, and God went to work. I guess He was always at work. During that year, Mr. Rollo was saved and baptized in our church, and it was a beautiful thing. A beautiful thing.

Do you think you are too insignificant...too weak...too small? Too old? Too young? Not good enough? Not smart enough? That you've made a mess of your life? That you don't have all the answers? That you have too many questions?. Do you think God can't use you because of your past? Because of your present? 

I'm here to tell you, GOD CAN. If you are willing, God can.

Well, it wasn't long after Mr. Rollo's salvation that he died, and went home to be with the Lord. Even with his age, it was sudden and unexpected. Joshua was distraught. He blamed himself. He apparently had called Mr. Rollo a "bird-brain" one day at school, and that's all he could think of that would've caused Mr. Rollo's untimely death.

I know...it's kind of funny.

He used to say, "I called Mr. Rollo a bird-brain and he died."

It was a long time before Joshua came to terms with the loss of his friend, Mr. Rollo.

Now, though, he knows more about life. He has learned more about death. He believes more about Heaven.

We'll see Mr. Rollo there.

"...whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me." Matthew 25:40

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