TITLE: I Remember Harry
By Jim Oates
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I Remember Harry
The first time I met Harry was in the early nineties. He was a tall gangly man who looked to be in his mid fifties; It is hard to tell the age of a person in Harry's condition. He could not walk without the aid of a walker and his legs wobbled as he made his way to the activity room where we held our weekly Bible study.
I, along with a friend, had been conducting studies at a local nursing home facility for several years. On rounding up residents for our meeting this particular Sunday morning I went to the sitting room at the other end of the building, where I found a few of our regulars watching TV. I asked Mrs. O'Keefe, a fine looking lady who always dressed to the nines sitting in her wheelchair, if she would like to come this morning, she agreed and I said that I would be glad to bring her. Then I noticed this poorly dressed man sitting near her, waving his hand uncontrollably in the air. He was new to the home and I had never seen him before. He was not what I would call a handsome man but he might have been if he had more flesh on his bones.
Harry couldn't speak other than unpronounceable utterances like, “Ahhhh ahhhh, ah ah.” But this didn't deter him from trying to communicate. There was always spittle dribbling from his chin down onto the front of his shirt. On hearing me ask the folk if they wanted to come to our service, he grasped his walker and stood to his unsteady legs. With his boney finger waggling at me and that , “Ahhhh ahhhh, ah ah.” I instinctively knew he wanted to come.
Inside I cringed, I told him we were holding a service down the hall in the activity room, all the while hoping he wouldn't come. I didn't want him to come. He'll make funny noises and distract the service. I've seen people like him before, they always make funny noises and do funny things. I thought he would be an embarrassment.
As I was pushing Mrs. O'Keefe along, Harry passed us weaving his way down the long corridor.
This Godly man who was bringing the word of God the these shut-ins was thoroughly embarrassed.
Yes, Harry did come and he did make funny noises, he always sat over against the wall in the front row, he seemed to be enjoying the songs that were sung and listened intently to every word that was said. I was still embarrassed, but noticed every time I said the name Jesus or God, Harry's hand shot up with that boney finger waggling heavenward while saying, loud enough for everyone to hear, “Ahhhh ahhhh ah ah.” Of course all eyes turned to Harry on these occasions and a chorus of, “Shhush shh's,” were said all around the room, which were probably more distracting than Harry.
This went on for several weeks then one morning under the leading of the Holy Spirit, I took a side trip from my prepared study. On this occasion, He caused me to talk about God's love for each one of us, no matter what our status in life, what our family background, or education, none of this matters to God. He loves each and every one of us the same. I went on to say, “Maybe as a child, other kids made fun of you. Maybe someone said that you would never amount to anything. God never says things like that. God loves you too much to say anything like that because He really values you. It doesn't matter what other people say about you, God cares and has made a way for us to draw near to Him and feel His comforting arms around us and He did this by bringing His Son Jesus, to this earth to die for each one of us.”
Not thinking of any one particular person I went on to say, “Maybe even your parents may have said, 'You are stupid, you're no good, you will never amount to anything.'” At that moment, Harry got to his feet and weaved his way across the floor and stood directly in front of me about a foot away staring intently into my face, and with that boney finger thumping against his chest, said, “Ahhhh ahhhh, ah ah.”
Taken aback, I said, “You -- Harry? They said that to you?”
Harry replied with that same thumping of his chest all the while saying, “Ahhhh ahhhh, ah ah.”
To say the least, my superior status crumbled right then and there. The Holy Spirit spoke directly to me. I didn't hear His voice, Harry did the speaking for Him. I repented and asked God's forgiveness for looking at one of His loved ones as a lesser being. As well as asking God to forgive me, I asked that HE would prevent me from ever judging another person by their outward appearance again. I saw Harry in a totally new light that day and grew to love him and always looked forward to seeing him every Sunday morning after that. I took delight in watching him praising God with that boney finger reaching Heavenward and hearing that familiar, “Ahhhh ahhhh, ah ah.”
Harry continued coming to our Bible study for several months, then one morning we heard the sad news, Harry died. I have no doubt that Harry is now in Glory with his beloved Jesus.
My friend and partner Don, and I, often spoke of Harry and rejoiced that Harry was finally free. There was so much he wanted to say, so much he wanted to do and now he is released from that disease racked body that held him captive all these years. We often wondered what Harry might be doing in Heaven. We could picture him running through fields of flowers shouting and singing at the top of his voice. No more, “Ahhhh ahhhh, ah ah.”
I thank God for speaking to me through this man racked by that horrible disease. I learned a valuable lesson that day and believe I am a better person because of Harry.
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