A Big Sunflower

Artwork by Saugus resident and artist, Naomi Young. Courtesy photo

By Naomi Young, Saugus Community Contributor


Jimmy is now buried with a sunflower. Jimmy was like a big yellow sunflower, shining as the sun itself. He was a bright spot in a world that’s too self- absorbent and too busy to slow down and smell the flowers along the way or smile every once in a while.

Jimmy was a man who was born with Down syndrome. He had the mental capacity of an eight year old child. His older sister Bertha took him lovingly under her wings and cared for him throughout his life. He lived with Bertha, her husband Michael and their two young sons Jacob and Zachariah. Nothing teaches a child about compassion and love like living it at home day by day. The boys spent their growing years caring for their uncle as if he were another brother, enjoying sibling rivalries as well as fun times together.

I had the pleasure of meeting Jimmy a few times when the boys came to my home for Hebrew lessons. He was always ready for a nice hug. He’d really enjoy getting a long hug but even more because he wanted you to feel the love inside him. It was such a simple act of loving kindness and transformation that most of us take for granted, failing to understand that magic formula that the more you give, the more you get back in return.

Every morning when Michael would drop off Jimmy at the   activities center, Jimmy would remind Michael to be kind to his sister.  “Do you promise to be kind to her?” he’d ask Michael and wouldn’t leave until Michael said yes. Each morning before leaving the house he’d ask Bertha if he could take an extra piece of fruit with him as if it was for himself only to share it with a friend from the center who didn’t bring lunch with him.

Sharing his love and kindness was natural for Jimmy.

“What is your legacy going to be?” asked the pastor at Jimmy’s memorial service. “What legacy are you leaving behind?” continued the pastor to force the people to look at themselves in the mirror,  reminding them to try to be less self serving and feel less self entitled.

Jimmy’s legacy was all about love and kindness and it came from a very pure place. Jimmy touched so many people just by his simple smile and pure innocence, the kind of love that does not depend on anything.

An unconditional loving and giving, because after all, all he could give others was his love and kindness.

In our journey through life we encounter many people who come and go. Some stay longer, others don’t. Some come for a short time but still manage to touch our souls deep inside, simply by being themselves, pure and simple.  Surprisingly it is people like Jimmy who show up along the way, shake us to our core and remind us about the most basic, yet most important lessons in life, thus teaching us to make the world a better place one hug at a time, one smile at a time.

Jimmy had no power or money but he sure had a powerful message that was priceless.

Rest in peace Jimmy, you’ll always be a shining light to everyone who knew you. You are a big golden sunflower.

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