Marty Mendoza wants his son to experience everything. He bestows unflinching love on his son, Marty Jr., who is nonverbal and lives his life with seizures and severe autism. With Mendoza’s ex-wife completely gone from their lives, they are each other’s worlds. But Mendoza wanted the rest of the world to see what a wonderful young man his son is. He also wanted his son to know that the world noticed and appreciated him, so he went to Facebook and asked if someone wouldn’t give just one Christmas card to his son.
“I get hundreds of cards a day, every day,” Mendoza said. And each gets the attention the sender kindly gave Marty Jr. “I read every single one to Marty Jr.” The absolute outpouring of love and warmth from so many strangers overwhelmed Mendoza. Since last Friday, the Mendoza family has had a lot to celebrate.
After being abandoned once, any more wounds hurt twice as much
With the bustle and mayhem, the holiday season can bring, some people may feel left behind. Mendoza worried Marty Jr. might feel this way, particularly when living with the open wound left by his mother’s departure from their family. “I’ve been his mom and dad for almost 30 years. My ex-wife, when he was born, she up and left when he was about 2 years old,” Mendoza explained.
Though very trying for both men, perhaps it was for the best. Mendoza’s wife quickly showed a disregard for Marty Jr. because of his autism. “She said he was retarded. I hate that word and basically, I’ve been his mom and dad ever since.” He has shown the support one expects a parent to carry; Mendoza wants no doors to be closed to Marty Jr. Appropriately, he uses whatever means he can to take care of his son. Mendoza, like many others with an autistic child, knows the importance of paying attention and showing consideration.
Everyone took the time to give one young man a heartfelt Christmas card
Mendoza wanted Marty Jr. to receive just one card at the very least. One piece of paper with a message of well-wishes can remind him people care about him. Instead, Mendoza was flooded with cards. Their house hasn’t just seen an increase in personalized Christmas cards, though. Visitors also make the trip to see them and show compassion face-to-face. Mendoza stated one woman drove three hours to give each of them a hug. She also provided a Christmas present. But no matter the contents of the package, her act of kindness is the real gift for Marty Jr. and Mendoza.
These kind gestures have changed Mendoza and, ultimately, helped him believe in the kindness of humans again. “You see this kind of stuff on TV and you don’t know if it’s really real, but it is. It’s happened for us. Out of the blue and out of the kindness of their hearts,” he said emotionally. Indeed, Mendoza showed he is not one to shy away from tears as celebrations of emotion. In fact, to fully be a reliable parent for Marty Jr., he has embraced them. “It means the world to me really because — I am sorry I get emotional, it’s the Mama in me,” he explained. “I’m truly blessed and touched with everybody that has shown their love for me that I want to show my love to them.”