Things that Bring Tears to My Eyes: A Continuing Series

Remembering my son Larry, this choked me up:

Michelle Malkin tweeted this story out earlier and I have to say it really is the best thing I’ve read all day. Maybe you’ve seen the photo already but what’s important is the story behind it.

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Florida State University football players visited a Middle School today. During lunch, wide receiver Travis Rudolph noticed one student, Bo Paske, who was sitting off on his own and decided to ask if he could join him. When a picture of the two sharing lunch made it back to Bo’s mother, Leah Paske, she posted it on Facebook and explained why it was such an emotional moment:

Several times lately I have tried to remember my time in middle school, did I like all my teachers, do I even remember them? Did I have many friends? Did I sit with anyone at lunch? Just how mean were kids really? I remember one kid on the bus called me “Tammy Fay Baker” bc I started awkwardly wearing eye liner in the sixth grade, I remember being tough and calling him a silly name back, but when he couldn’t see me anymore I cried. I do remember middle school being scary, and hard. Now that I have a child starting middle school, I have feelings of anxiety for him, and they can be overwhelming if I let them. Sometimes I’m grateful for his autism. That may sound like a terrible thing to say, but in some ways I think, I hope, it shields him. He doesn’t seem to notice when people stare at him when he flaps his hands. He doesn’t seem to notice that he doesn’t get invited to birthday parties anymore. And he doesn’t seem to mind if he eats lunch alone. It’s one of my daily questions for him. Was there a time today you felt sad? Who did you eat lunch with today? Sometimes the answer is a classmate, but most days it’s nobody. Those are the days I feel sad for him, but he doesn’t seem to mind. He is a super sweet child, who always has a smile and hug for everyone he meets. A friend of mine sent this beautiful picture to me today and when I saw it with the caption “Travis Rudolph is eating lunch with your son” I replied “who is that?” He said “FSU football player”, then I had tears streaming down my face. Travis Rudolph, a wide receiver at Florida State, and several other FSU players visited my sons school today. I’m not sure what exactly made this incredibly kind man share a lunch table with my son, but I’m happy to say that it will not soon be forgotten. This is one day I didn’t have to worry if my sweet boy ate lunch alone, because he sat across from someone who is a hero in many eyes. Travis Rudolph thank you so much, you made this momma exceedingly happy, and have made us fans for life! #travisrudolph #autismmom #fansforlife

I’ve read this three times now and it still gets me.


Go here to read the rest.  When Mr. Rudolph completes his allotted span in this Vale of Tears, do not think for a moment that God will forget this simple act of human kindness.  Sometimes I suspect that our greatest moments on this planet as far as God is concerned, will be moments that we barely recall.


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  1. I don’t know you other than through your blog. I don’t know Larry other than what you have shared about him. You, Larry and your family have been in my prayers because I got to know you all somewhat by your blog. I saw this story as a headline earlier today somewhere and didn’t read it. Then I saw your blog headline and your mention of Larry and I had to read. And you’re right, it is the best thing I have read all day. Maybe the guy just needed a place to sit and eat, but how many others saw that same open place with the same need and for some stupid reason went somewhere else.

    By the way, the best things you have shared among many very good things have been your reflections about your son. Please share some more and make our day again.

  2. Thank you Steve, your kind comments mean a lot to me.

    Larry was extremely patient during the endless visits to bookstores that punctuated his life, and the lives of his brothers and sisters during their childhoods. It used to be a saying of our daughter that something was amiss if we didn’t go to at least one bookstore on our outings. Larry would normally be by my right side as I browsed, although if there was a play area at the bookstore he would take advantage of that when he was a small boy. One day when we were at the Barnes and Noble in Kankakee an older gentleman I had never seen before or since came up to me and praised Larry’s demeanor and behavior, and how he reminded him of his son. I thanked him, and it struck me then that his son must be autistic also. My wife and I would often tell well meaning friends that Larry was no burden to us, which was the simple truth, but rather only a source of sheer joy. Seeing the other older father I could see that he understood this, and I have always remembered his remarks because of it.

  3. Heart rending and uplifting story reminding us of how we need to be in situations like this. Thanks Don for all you do and all you share. This helps make your blogging unique and valuable. Blessing to you and your family.

  4. Beautiful story.
    “What so ever you do for the least of my people, that you do unto me.”
    Jesus found in you is a stone falling into a still pond. The ripple effect reaches outward, moving the still waters, stirring souls to imitate the stone.
    Great story Don.
    Larry, pray for us.

  5. Donald, I am the mother of a 51-year-old autistic son who brings us great joy as you said of your Larry. Times can be difficult occasionally, less now than in the past, but he is a treasure and a source of price and inspiration in ways difficult to describe. This piece by this mother expresses what all parents of children with disabilities feel whenever attempts are made to accept and engage in normal behavior with our children. I have felt it and I thank God for such kindnesses for I know that my man/boy understands his difference and appreciates all attempts by others who offer him a token of normal friendship. Your little vignette about your book store trips remind me of my own son’s patience as we browse the library stacks, greeted by the librarians who have come to know him and his obsession with arranging books ‘just so’ considering him their help mate. I truly feel blessed to have him in my life.

  6. Anna, we parents of children born with disorders like autism, understand that the treasures of God come often time in the most unlikely manner. There is not a day gone by when I do not thank God for the 21 years and three quarters he game me with my Larry boy.

  7. I’ve shed a tear more than once from reading about Larry — his quirky pivot when receiving communion, his midnight snacks, his running ahead of his family “like a gazelle”, his orange room at you office. He has also enriched our lives and will continue to do so as you remind us of the treasure of his life. Thank you, Larry, and thank you, Mr. McClarey. I’m reminded of “All things work together for God’s glory.”

  8. Thank you Ginny. Larry was the most unique individual that I have personally known in this life and as I told my wife after his passing, he was our great and grand adventure. Our life seems prosaic without his physical presence among us.

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