The first time I met Wesley Morgan. I didn’t want to like him. That’s a shameful admission, but it’s true. Wesley isn’t very tall- he might be five foot six, but I’ll bet he’s closer to five foot four- he’s round and pudgy, he wears very thick glasses, and he is severely developmentally challenged. His Mom, Nadine, had stopped in to visit my wife and when she introduced me to her son, she told me,
“This is Wesley. He is your age. You are both December babies!”
Wesley just stood there nervously wringing his hands, looking kind of lost and smiling to himself. I’m not often stuck for words and I am not generally caught unaware, but I honestly did not know what to do or say, and as I admitted before, I really didn’t want to like him. I looked at my wife. She glared at me, daring me not to embarrass her in front of her friend. Finally, I stuck out my hand and introduced myself;
“Hello, Wesley,” I began haltingly, “my name is Mitch.”
Wesley ignored my hand, grabbed me around my waist and hugged the stuffing out of me as he laid his head on my chest and giggled gleefully. I didn’t want to like Wesley Morgan. I tried not to, but I fell in love with him right then and there.
My wife and I often spoke of Wesley; of how he was always so glad to see you, how he always wanted to hug you- how we enjoyed that about him, but the unspoken proviso was that we pitied him. We pitied him his condition, and what we imagined were his limitations. I learned to be ashamed of myself for that as well.
One afternoon, Wes and his Mom were in for a visit. The girls were huddled together in the house somewhere, cackling away like girls do, and Wes and I were out back on the deck. I was doing some little yard chore, I don’t honestly recall what it was, and I was talking to Wes, but it didn’t take long before we ran out of things to say to each other. I began to feel uncomfortable as I felt the weight of the simplest conversation I could muster, wane; and then I heard Wesley giggle. I turned and saw that he was watching the wild pigeons fluttering through the sky. Some of them were tumblers, and as each one performed its aerial acrobatics, Wesley would laugh. The more he watched, the more the birds tumbled and the deeper his laughter, until tears ran down his cheeks. I sat there with him, for the better part of an hour, watching the tumbling pigeons and laughing. It was simply delightful!
Just before his Mom came out on the deck to get him, I chanced to watch Wesley for a few minutes. He was genuinely present in the moment. He was thrilled. He was happy. He was deeply contented to watch the pigeons, and his laughter was unbridled and free. In that moment I knew I was wrong to pity him, but that I should rather pity myself, for I knew I would never be as joyful or happy, even for a few minutes in my life, as Wesley seemed to be almost all of the time.
I have never known a happier, or more contented man than, Wesley Morgan. I have never known a kinder or more gentle soul. I have never known a man more willing to love, or more accepting of the love of another, even someone with admissions so vile as those I have confessed here. Yes, I loved Wesley Morgan and with him in it, the world was a better place, and that’s what I am going to say at his funeral today. I’m going to stand up and say that I didn’t want to like Wesley Morgan, but that I fell in love with him.
And, then I think I’ll go home, sit on my back deck and watch the tumbling pigeons for a while and try not to pity myself for an impoverished fool.
* sigh *