Flashback Friday: David's Bold Gift and Bold Life

David smiles in a classroom. He is wearing glasses and a gray sweatshirt that says Holden Village.

Today we’re sharing a Flashback Friday story about a man Mosaic was privileged to serve for many years.  I originally wrote this letter to donors and friends in 2009, shortly after he died.  As part of National Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, it is a good story to share again and a good example of a Bold Life.

You've probably seen the classic movie “It's a Wonderful Life” where the main character discovers how empty other peoples' lives would have been without his presence. I think of that movie when I think of David Wilson, a man who received services from Mosaic for more than 47 years, from the time he was a young child until his recent death. David lived a wonderful life, and he touched the lives of many others with his unique joy and gentleness.

At his church newly-baptized babies received David's gentle touch upon their forehead and cheek as a sign of welcome. This ritual developed over the years David faithfully attended. Many people from his church attended David's funeral – the church was packed. But they weren't the only ones there.

Other people he had touched were there too. People like the bank teller who helped David cash his check so he could leave with the 30 dollar bills he wanted on each bank visit. Or the women from the senior center David first attended to play bingo but also was invited to join a card group. Or the people from the restaurant where David ate every Friday night with his host family, playing shuffleboard and not leaving until he shook the hand of every person there.

Everywhere David went, he made friends.  David lived a wonderful life. I am grateful that we at Mosaic had a part to play in that life.

David first came to Mosaic when he was 5 years old, before the time when community-based services were available for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. He thrived on our campus at Axtell, Neb. I was one of the staff who came to know him then. You couldn't help but like him with his easy, welcoming smile.

Some people from the years David lived on the campus came to his funeral. They still remembered the young man to whom they found it hard to say farewell when he moved to Omaha to begin community-based services. They were gratified to see all the other friendships David had created over the more than 25 years since he left the campus.

David was a busy man. Besides the Sunday worship, David attended the Spirit Matters group every week at his church. He volunteered each week at the Humane Society, cleaning dishes and visiting the animals and the workers. He visited different stores each week, collecting recyclable items. Several times a year he flew, by himself, to visit his brother in the Twin Cities area. 

Even after his sudden death from an aneurysm, David still touched people. Three people received life-giving transplants because he had chosen to become an organ donor.

David's life represents what we all seek – a life of inclusion and welcome in a home, the Church and the community.

I wish you could have known David. I am so glad that I did.

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