The Thursday Writers

The Man Who Couldn’t Smile

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The Thursday writers meet weekly in a public library. We collect twenty minute prompts, mostly one sentence long, draw a prompt at random, then write furiously and read our work to the group. Sharing writing information such as workshops, books, and readings we've been to have kept us current on what's happening in our neighbourhood. Our focus as writers has grown and now this new venture with the Island Woman Magazine is very exciting. We plan on a once monthly submission, rotating writers throughout the year. We are having lots of writing fun!

He looked like a mischievous little gnome standing at my office door with his twinkling eyes. His short physique accentuated his balding head. He had the most incredibly small and crooked hands I had ever seen. The other outstanding feature about him was the lack of expression on his face. You see, Don couldn’t smile. 

I found him to be a dynamic seventy-two-year-old man. His philosophy was that “age had nothing to do with happiness”. He just wanted to make the most out of the rest of his life. He hoped I could find him someone to love.

Don didn’t believe he had a disability, but unfortunately, it was very noticeable. As a result of his encumbrance, Don struggled through childhood with people staring and children making cruel jokes. He alleged that people with disadvantages usually perceived that they are normal until someone points out their differences.

Longanimity with limited use of his fingers had made it difficult for him to get a job. Finally hired by a sawmill to sort finished lumber, he found he could do his job by tying splinters of wood to his fingers with string to pick things up.

His friend had called to ask  if I had read the newspaper article about the 9-year-old girl who couldn’t smile. Doctors discovered a procedure that could fix the muscles to her mouth by transferring muscles from the thigh to corners of the mouth. I called Don and asked him to meet me. It was an emotional time because, for the first time, he had a label about what made him different.

He was diagnosed with a rare disease called Mobius Syndrome which can cause facial paralysis. His other symptoms were watery eyes and mouth, slurred speech, and part of Don’s right foot was missing. Don’s family and doctor convinced him he was disabled because his mother was too exhausted to give birth normally after having nine children consecutively.

Happily, I have a wonderful ending to his story. Six months later,  Don met Georgina, who accepted his marriage proposal. He was so happy that he would tell friends that love was the most important word in the dictionary.

Note: Don passed away in 2006 keeping his humor right to the end. He said, “Forgive me for saying this but I have been dying to see you.” He died two days later.

Written by Maryanna Sinclaire.
Maryanna was a Professional Matchmaker  for 9 years.


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  1. Seeing inner beauty is a gift from a loving heart. Nicely done.

  2. Maryanna, A great memory of a wonderful friendship with Don. Thanks for sharing this story with everyone.


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