A few weeks ago I had a chance to spend a weekend at my Aunt and Uncle's in their small village of Whitelaw, a town of about 750 people within Manitowoc County. When my family and I arrived, my cousin, their grandson, was so excited to see us. He took my brothers and I on a tour of the town showing us everything from the meat market to the Co-op, to St. Michael's church, which is the same church that our grandpa walked many miles to reach for school when he was a young boy.
My cousin Dom is very special to our family. He is only a few years younger than me and, although he is autistic, he is super smart. He loves electronics, lawn mowers, computers, drills and cars. He is interested in a lot of things but he is mostly into mowing the lawn and comparing it to the lawn at the local bank. Sometimes Dom can be seen taking a broom out and sweeping the lawn so it makes a special pattern just like the one at the bank. When someone at school asked him what his favorite sport was, he said it was mowing the lawn!
Dom is very thoughtful and creative. He was so excited about us coming that he wanted to share the backyard tent with me and my brother Justin. By the time night fell though, the temperature had quickly dropped to the low 40's so my aunt suggested that we all sleep inside while the rest of our family slept in a comfortable heated camper. Dom was just so excited to be with us that he would sleep anywhere as long as we were there with him. Before falling asleep, he reminded us to say our prayers, and then he prayed a perfect Act of Contrition. I was surprised that he knew this prayer so well as it was one that I struggled to memorize.
In the morning, we had breakfast and then my cousin Dom led my family in a procession up the 2 blocks to St. Michael's for 11 o'clock Mass. After Mass the Deacon, who knows Dom very personally, said that he noticed Dom leading a whole gang of people to church this morning and asked him to introduce us. Dom gladly went down the line of our family pointing us all out. He was so proud of us!
Then we went back to the house and watched the football game for a while and played a quick game of volleyball before we had to head back home to Milwaukee. Our aunt, uncle and cousin were sad to see us go, but we promised them that we would come back soon and that we had an excellent time with them. I am so lucky to have such great and loving relatives who agreed to share their home with us. We had a wonderful time! I am blessed to have such a special cousin who treats me so well and who loves me so much, knowing that I love him just as much in return.