I was inspired when I saw the heartfelt photo - essay on facebook, of a girl and her Down Syndrome brother -- Grace & Josh -- having fun and raising awareness together: click here if you haven't seen it yet!
My Uncle Earl (8 December 1934 - 28 December 1982) who had Down Syndrome could do a lot of cool things like play the harmonica (which I still cannot do!); thumb through catalogs, turning down the corner on all his favorite pages (which I still do regularly!), fill notebooks with his tiny mysterious writing (like Leonardo da Vinci!); and give pretend haircuts, which we kids all loved. There wasn't a lot of education for him back then, but today there would be, and I have no doubt he could have learned many things.
When the doctor warned us, early in my pregnancy with Sam, that I had a low alpha - fetoprotein reading, I declined the suggested amniocentesis. I knew from my grandparents' example in raising Earl that we would find a way to handle whatever happened. As it turned out, Sam was fine; however, a Down's baby would have been fine too.
Earl was a great companion to my grandfather, especially after my grandmother died in 1966. Earl lived for 16 1/2 years after that; and then my grand - dad died a mere 6 months after Earl. I think of them all so often. I know there were difficult times, but also many happy memories.
Earl is also the one who gave me the nickname -- or more accurately completely changed my first name from Beth to -- Kitti, for which I (and even my mom) have always been grateful, since we all know that I make a much better Kitti than I ever would a Beth!
Thanks Earl! And Happy Birthday!