As Skye and I open the door to Acme Superstore in Longwood, I hear two distinct male voices call out, “Skylar!” and I see my son smile.
Do you remember the theme song to the old sitcom “Cheers”?
“You wanna go where people know, that people are all the same
You wanna go where everybody knows your name.”
One of the reasons that the sitcom was so successful is because the show portrayed a desire that we all share. But such a place is difficult for a person who is very different, like Skye, to find.
Immediately after we moved to
in 2003, Jim and I set out to create a semblance of belonging and routine for our family. Pearce needed social situations and physical outlets, Skye needed routines that included visual and social stimulation. One afternoon, Jim and Skye were cruising the streets when they discovered “Acme Superstore”. Skye loved the immense collection of science fiction characters throughout the store. He soon began asking me to take him to the store. I had never been there and I could not understand what was so spectacular; he was not a collector of comics or collectibles. But the minute we walked through the door, I understood. Florida
“Skylar!, how are you doing today?” I introduced myself to the two men who had greeted him, Marc Hammond and Todd Fisher. Todd had tattoos and short cropped orange hair, Marc, had his head shaved and tattoos that seemed to glow. Although it is often difficult for Skye to succinctly express a thought or desire, they listened and focused on him, and he responded in kind. Obtuse, detailed, minutia concerning comic books, science fiction, and super heroes is their niche, and they are phenomenal at it. Skye would ask Todd if he knew the name of a character that was on a specific planet during an early episode of the original Star Trek and Todd would know the answer before the question was completed. Instead of moving on to another person, Todd would stand and answer repeated questions and explain minor details to Skylar. I was also surprised at the specific knowledge that Skye had retained from watching these shows. The kindness shown to Skye touched me.
It has been seven years, and we visit our friends at Acme at least once a week. There have been many times over the years that Skye has been irritated and rude while at the store. There have been hours of conversations, hundreds of times when they have unlocked cases for him to see an object just to have him decide he does not want it. But still, Todd, Marc, Penny, Tori, Terry, and Mason continue to display kindness and compassion. It is “his” place. He feels safe.
When Skye was a small child, I imagined the life he had before him. I believed that he would be befriended by Christians in a church setting and that the majority of his social contact would stem from these relationships. As he grew older, I realized that his voluntary social contacts would be people who care primarily about the rest of our family and view Skye as a secondary obligation. There are exceptions, but that is the general rule. It is very unusual for someone to reach out to Skye before they know us, Kim was an exception and so is “Acme Superstore”.
I truly believe that God has set all things in motion and that His plans far exceed my comprehension. But-----I love it when He surprises me with random displays of kindness and compassion that I neither sought out nor expected. We enjoy our friendships with the people at Acme, friendships that were birthed from kindnesses shown to our son.
So here’s to you, Acme, I raise my glass and my heart, because you are a place where “everybody knows his name”.