Friday, March 21, 2014

Sibling Saturday (on a Friday): My Brother and I

These are early photos of my brother and I. I was almost three when he was born. My mother tells the story of how she knew something was not quite right with him, but it wasn't until he was about three months old and we had moved to the west coast that the doctor told my mother that my brother had Down's Syndrome. The doctor also went on to tell her that he would likely never walk or talk and that he'd be better off in an institution. My mother said she was holding him in her arms at the time and looked down at him and just then he began to cry. My mother said she felt so sorry for her little baby and told the doctor she could never do that.

I remember my mom telling me when I was a bit older that he was not like other children and he would never marry. "I will marry him!" I exclaimed, and took up his cause from then on. I would not let anyone talk about him or laugh at him, I would be his protector. And I did for a long time. But I eventually got married and left home and him a long time ago. He lives with my sister now, but if anything changes, I will be there to take care of him again.

Growing up with a sibling with a disability has shaped me and made me who I am today. I would not change that for the world. When my sister's children were older, I remember them hearing the talk about how Uncle B.J. was different. Then they sat down to tell my sister's grandchildren about him as well. I am happy that he has helped at least three generations understand that it's okay to be different and many in our family feel comfortable being around those with special needs.

My mother kept a copy of a poem about Heaven's Very Special Child in her china cabinet. I know that both she and my father mourned what could never be, but we do celebrate what is and what can be. Today is World Down Syndrome Day, chosen for the trisomy of the 21st chromosome. I chose to celebrate it by writing about my very special brother.