Monday, January 08, 2007

Family Matters

It always happens. We pulled into the hotel after a gruelling 5 and a half hour flight. Not a soul in the lobby. I decided to hit the washroom before checking in and when I came out there was a group of 5 standing around checking in. They materialized out of thin air just to annoy me. I wasn't using my wheelchair so I went up to the desk and stood off to the side resting against the counter. I don't know what was going on because I came in the middle of it. But the father, along with wife and three daughters, was fumbling about. He'd made some kind of mistake with the reservation. The guy on the desk was helping them realize it wasn't a problem, that a rollaway bed could be put in the room and all would have a bed.

The wife and mother, was clearly grumpy (maybe she needed pie) and snapped at her husband. Suddenly there was a voice from the youngest of the group. "Mom, stop being mean to dad. He just made a mistake, you should be patient with him like you are with me when I make a mistake." She looked sheepish and apologized. We all smiled. The two other daughters glanced at each other, their eyes meeting knowingly. This had obviously happened before, often. I thought I heard the accent so I double checked and sure enough the youngest had Down Syndrome. I'd recognize that lilt anywhere.

Dad smiled at his wife and said, "You'd better listen to your daughter." Then the little girl turned on her dad, "Well, Dad, Mom's just mad cause you keep making mistakes. You never ask for help, so you keep making mistakes. I don't make a lot of mistakes cause I know when to ask for help." Mom looked vindicated and Dad looked put in his place. This kid had no lack of self esteem or assertiveness. She stood there looking at both of them like a frustrated parent.

"I guess, I've been told," Dad said looking at the clerk who was grinning now. Suddenly none of them seemed as tired and disgruntled as they were just moments before.

As he handed the key to his wife, he handed his credit card to the clerk. Mom and brood headed towards the elevator. Dad said, under his breath, "She was the best tough decision we ever made."

Tears sprung to my eyes. She was wanted. Expected. Decided upon. She survived.

And she clearly delivered.

I wonder who the family would have been without her. What the evening would have been like without her to give gentle but firm wisdom. To not take sides. To be a bridge over troubled water.

I wonder if that extra chromosome carries with it common sense and uncommon wisdom?

I wonder what they expected.

I wonder at what they got.

15 comments:

Belinda said...

Gifts come in unexpected packages! :)

Nicole said...

Oh yes! How true your words are and what a gift that you are able to see and enjoy that. One of my 4 daughters has Down synrome and I love when we are in the midst of people who get it. Thank you for sharing that story, you made my day! Nicole Maher

Lily said...

Awesome post. I enjoyed every word by the master storyteller. And to the whole gist? All I can say is, "Amen!"

Jill said...

This is so familiar ..... I agree Nicole - you know when you're with those who get it. Some just don't, and probably never will. My son with Down syndrome has just turned 21 - what I expected trying to look 20 years into the future (when he was born and that huge label came with him) was isolation and regret, even though I thought I would love him - what we have is so different, so much more ordinary and extraordinary at the same time. We too have a gifted peace-maker of uncommon good sense, a confident, delightful young man - if only we'd known, we wouldn't have wasted one tear on regrets. But what an experience it is has been and continues to be. We still can't believe our luck.

Michelle said...

As a mother of a daughter with Down syndrome, thank you. What a very touching post that was, and I had tears in my eyes reading it.

Amy said...

Another mom with a daughter with Down syndrome here...thank you so much for sharing this! It's a great way to let the rest of the world in on a secret we already know.

Mauzy said...

So, true. Thank you for your story. May I share on my blog?

NoEmptyArmsHere said...

ROCK ON!!!

Sara said...

What a nice post! My Son was born with Down Syndrome. Thanks for such a postive and uplifting post!
May I add it to my blog ?

Dave Hingsburger said...

Anyone who wishes to share any blog on this blog is welcome to. Just give the blog source and it's yours to you. Thank you so much for all your validation in telling this story. Dave

Dylan (and Kristy) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dylan (and Kristy) said...

I'm am the lucky mother of Dylan, a 21 month old with Downs. I am deeply touched by your story. Thank you so much for sharing.

I am linking this story to my (actually Dylan's) blog.
dylanupdate.blogspot.com

Kristy

Steve said...

Wonderful story until I got to the "tough decision" part, what a kick inthe groin.

mrs darling said...

Wow this is powerful. What an wonderful story of an incredible little girl, and to think poeple terminiate these pregnancies every day! Its so sad.

Rebecca said...

I happened upon your blog today by way of Big Blueberry Eyes (Michelles' blog). This is a wonderful post.

I hope you don't mind if I link to you.