The other day, the dogs and I were walking around the neighborhood of our temporary home in Florida. We see a lot more people than cows here. A young boy, about nine or ten years old, asked if he could pet the dogs. His mother was nearby and nodded so I told him he could.
Tilly got the attention first. When the boy reached for Foster, he hesitated and asked, "What's wrong with his eyes?" I told him that Foster was losing his sight and that's why his eyes were cloudy. The boy chose not to pet Foster.
I walked away heartbroken. Foster's charisma and happy nature still exists in him, and this boy missed out on it because he was repulsed by his milky eyes.
This is something I also observed as my husband's illness progressed. People who knew him "before" didn't change their interactions with him. Yet I saw other people hesitate or look the other way as he struggled to walk or reach for something. But his personality and optimism still existed. These people missed out on his essential goodness.
It's probably normal for people to withdraw and hesitate from what deviates from what is "normal." I understand that and certainly have been guilty of it in the past. It takes manual overdrive to look beyond the surface to the personality and goodness within.
Many of the dogs that come to the kennel are in less than perfect condition. Some are in declining health and aging. Yet if I look closely, I can still see the puppy within.
Who will you pass by today? What can you do to practice manual overdrive and reach out to that person?