When I was in college, I had a summer job working with the most amazing little boy. I'll call him C. C was brilliant, adorable, fun-loving and a pleasure to be with. He had spinal muscular atrophy, which made a motorized wheelchair his mode of transportation, and limited some of the physical activities he could do independently or at all. My job was to be his private assistant while he went to summer camp and help him with some of his personal needs while also looking out for his health needs. He could not be outside when it was extremely humid or very hot and we would spend time in the nurse's office, playing card games and with toys he brought with him. It was a fantastic, rewarding job.
But there was one thing I dreaded. C had some quirks and one of them was an amazing memory. He could name every Billy Joel song. He could tell you all the James Bond movies. And, for some reason, he loved the theme song for "All in the Family." Not only did he love it, but we had to sing it as a duet, multiple times a day.
"Boy the way Glenn Miller played," he would sing and I would have to sing back in a squeaky Edith voice, "Songs that made the hit parade!" Over and over again. And over. And over. Again. There comes a time when you just simply cannot sing the theme song to "All in the Family" one more time and I reached that point near the end of one of our camp days. C. cried hysterical, sad tears. I could see people looking at us as he drove his wheelchair, sobbing and me walking sheepishly behind. When his mom came to pick us up, and she saw the tears, I had to confess that I just simply could not sing Edith's part any more that day. I felt like such a jerk. I should have just sang the song! Was it worth it for this little guy to be so dreadfully upset?
It was a small bump in our time together and C. got over my refusal to continually sing "Those Were the Days." I loved my time with him and still think of him often. Being his friend was a gift in my life and I learned a lot, including all the words to "Those Were the Days" and how to sing my part, perfectly, just like Edith Bunker.