Niagara Gazette — Editors Note: The following is an excerpt from the newest “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book series subtitled “Raising Kids on the Spectrum.” The book details stories from parents of children with Autism and Asperger’s. The chapter below was written by Grand Island mom Jean Marino about her son, Zachary.
Trains and Angels
You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.
— John Wooden
Zachary was four years old, obsessed with the world of Thomas the Tank Engine trains and disconnected from our world. When I heard about a place in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, that offered a life-size Thomas train, I knew it was a way to connect with Zachary. On the ride there, I kept telling myself it would be a memory to treasure.
It was late when we arrived at the hotel. Zachary did not like new surroundings or a break in routine. A million doubts raced through my mind, but I held onto hope. I prayed Zachary wouldn’t have a meltdown and get us kicked out. More than anything, I hoped this wasn’t a mistake.
To our relief, Zachary’s expressive brown eyes reflected wonder, the backpack chiming out its contents as he dragged it on the stairs. I inwardly cringed at the noise he was making, but decided his screams would be louder if I picked up the backpack.
Once we entered the room, Zachary pressed his palms against a wall, ran to the opposite side, and repeated the process several times.
I sat on the edge of the bed next to my husband, Joe.
“Jeannie...” He seemed deep in thought. “He’s so...”
“What are you thinking?” I whispered.
“How beautiful he is.”
On his next pass, Joe scooped him into his arms and carried him off to give him a bath. Zachary’s effervescent laughter filled the room ... and my heart.