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Care Design NY Member Spotlight: Meet Sergio!

According to his mother, Sergio has been waiting for a bus to take him to school or a day program or a therapist appointment since he was just months old. She stated, "It suddenly dawned on me one day that Sergio would be waiting for a bus every day for the rest of his life, and I had better find him a comfortable place to sit while he does all that waiting. Sergio was twenty years old by the time I came to this realization. Before my awakening occurred, he had been sitting on the stoop of our house each morning waiting for his bus to arrive. It didn’t matter what season it was or what the weather, he would sit and wait for his bus on the stoop, and always he would wait without complaint."  She described how when they bought Sergio the bench (pictured left), he now hums softly to himself as he waits for his bus.

Read Sergio's mother's heartwarming story below! 


Sergio's Bench 
Madalasa

The sales receipt says Sergio’s Bench – $275.00. We bought this bench so that Sergio would have a place to wait for his bus in the mornings.

Sergio has been waiting for a bus to take him to school or a day program or a therapist appointment since he was just months old. It suddenly dawned on me one day that Sergio would be waiting for a bus every day for the rest of his life, and I had better find him a comfortable place to sit while he does all that waiting. Sergio was twenty years old by the time I came to this realization. Before my awakening occurred, he had been sitting on the stoop of our house each morning waiting for his bus to arrive. It didn’t matter what season it was or what the weather, he would sit and wait for his bus on the stoop and always he would wait without complaint.

It’s a proper bench, the one we bought, quite attractive really. It’s made of wrought iron in an Italianate motif, and best of all it folds up in a really clever way for easy transport. There’s room enough for two people to sit comfortably on it but Sergio doesn’t like it when I join him, so I leave him alone. Some days the bus comes late, and Sergio will be waiting on his bench for a really long time. These inconveniences don’t bother Sergio in the slightest. He sits and waits with a calmness and contentedness that I can only marvel at.

People who ride buses do a lot of waiting. One sees people waiting at bus stops all the time. They oftentimes sit and read while they wait and in recent years, I’ve seen a lot of people talking on their cell phones or texting their friends. Sergio doesn’t do any of these things. He doesn’t read or write, and he doesn’t have a cell phone. Sergio sits on his bench and hums to himself while he waits. There is a small school bus that drives by the house each morning and every time it passes, the driver toots his horn and gives Sergio a big wave. I guess the driver has come to look forward to seeing Sergio sitting on his bench and this small act of kindness has become something of a sweet ritual for both of them. When the bus goes by and honks, Sergio stops his humming and waves back.

Since Sergio doesn’t like me to sit with him on his bench, I have developed my own daily ritual inside the house. I take my computer and my coffee to the dining room table and read the news, all the while keeping my eye on things until the bus arrives. This way I can make sure that Serge gets off without a hitch. Once the bus pulls up, I go to the front door and wish him a wonderful day!

But before any bus waiting or well-wishing even begins, there is the business of Sergio’s lunch to consider.

Sergio loves lunch. Each afternoon when he comes home from his program, I ask him how his day went, and he always tells me about his lunch. Because Sergio loves lunch so much, the packing of it has become something of a holy ritual for me and I take great pains to create a tasty, nourishing, and beautiful meal for him. Sergio’s lunch always consists of a sandwich made of whole grain bread, vegetables, cheese/turkey/ham, a piece of fruit, yogurt, sometimes a small bag of chips, (and on a good day, pasta salad!). As I help Sergio button his jacket and tie the muffler around his neck he always asks, “What did you make me for lunch, Mama?” As I detail every ingredient of his sandwich and describe the particular fruit and chips or pasta salad, I have packed into his lunch bucket, Sergio hums with delight. I love seeing Sergio’s face light up and I love hearing his beautiful hum.

I once read an editorial in the New York Times written by a man I admire. He wrote of the mind-numbing task he must endure each day packing the school lunches for his children. I have often thought that I should write to him and share my experience of packing Sergio’s lunch. I would explain to him how with just a slight shift in his attitude he too could transform this mundane task of making school lunches into a small spiritual experience. I doubt my letter would do much good – he is in the business of writing essays about important world events and leaders and packing school lunches with enthusiasm might be too great a leap for him – maybe not – who knows.

I must admit – I have not always been so smart about these things. As I’ve already confessed, Sergio was twenty years old! before I figured out that getting him a comfortable bench to sit on was crucial. Sometimes I wonder – what on earth had I been thinking about all those years, what could possibly have been so urgent that I didn’t realize what was truly important? How many lunches have I packed with no enthusiasm? How many mornings did I drag myself around getting Sergio off to his program without recognizing the gift these morning rituals are?

There is no use in crying over lost time or my misguided past. What’s important is that I did finally wake up and get with the morning program. I did come to learn that these small, yet undeniably life-altering routines have given my life depth and joy and meaning. And it never ceases to amaze, how this young man who doesn’t read or write and will never pen an editorial in the New York Times, let alone text message a friend, has taught me the most important lessons of my life.

This lovely young man who sits all by himself on his wrought iron bench, with a peace and equanimity I will never achieve in a thousand lifetimes.

Humming softly to himself as he waits for his bus.

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