'You know, my Aunt Maddy has Down syndrome!'
'Really!!!' I reply, hardly able to contain my enthusiasm.
'Yes, and I love her dearly' says Steve, my husbands cousin's husband [How do you like that for a clarification!]
'How old is she?' I inquire.
'She is 62, and one of the greatest people I know' Steve replies.
'Wow, 62' I say That is old for having Down syndrome'
This is how an absolutely delightful conversation of mine went today at a family picnic.
Steve and Corey were married four and a half years ago. I was pregnant with Emma Sage at the wedding and while I suspected my unborn child had Down syndrome, at the wedding I was so caught up in the celebration [and sitting on the brides' side of the very large wedding reception] that I don't exactly recall seeing Aunt Maddy. But she was there I was told this afternoon by Steve and danced the night away with all of us.
Funny, isn't it,,,,,,four and a half years ago, my awareness was not what is it is today. If I had attended the wedding today, I think the first thing would have noticed is that she was amongst the crowd and I would have gone over and introduced myself, like I did earlier today at Wal-Mart.
I guess you could say I have turned into a 'T21 stalker',,,,,when I come across another person with T21 in my daily travels, I always have to make a bee-line over to where they are and introduce myself and my daughter.
So yes, earlier today at Wal-Mart I spotted a man with Down syndrome looking at CDs,,,,I noticed an attractive, snow-white haired woman near by him with a cart, browsing, but looking over to the man,,,,so I looped around from the ink cartridge aisle I was in and stopped by. I approached the woman with a big smile and a hello and extend my hand and introduced myself,,,,I then asked her if the young man near her was her son. She replied yes, this is my son Mark,,,,who looked up at me and gave me a big handshake and said 'hello' and went back to looking at CDs,,,,I told her that my youngest daughter had Down syndrome and I wanted to stop and say 'Hello' and inquire at how old her son was. He was 45, Shirley told me,,,,,'and the love of my life!' We chatted for a while and exchanged addresses and phone numbers. Mark gave me a big hug good-bye.
I walked away on such a high from such a wonderful conversation and looking forward to having Shirley and Mark at our next support meeting to talk about parenting and adulthood issues.
Then off to the family picnic,,,,,,,,,,,could my day get any sweeter?
Steve adores Emma Sage. They played together many times throughout the day, and I just loved watching their interaction,,,,,,so when the conversation between us turned to this common bond that we both had with living with and loving someone with Down syndrome it dawned on me this beautiful affection Steve had for Emma Sage came from his acceptance and understanding.
I got to hear many wonderful Aunt Maddy stories [oh my goodness,,,I have so many things to write about Aunt Maddy that Steve shared with me,,,,but I will save them for another day],,,,,,,and I told Steve about the New York City Buddy walk and video. I told Steve he should ask Aunt Maddy if she would like to submit her picture and Steve thought that was a great idea,,,,,SO, at his mothers surprise 60th Birthday party next weekend, Steve is planning on taking some pictures of Aunt Maddy with her siblings and then submitting a picture to the NDSS for the Buddy Walk video and everyone on my husbands side of the family marked their calendars to head into NYC to walk in support of Emma Sage and Aunt Maddy!
I would love it if Emma Sage's and Maddy's pictures were both chosen this year for the video, because I can just imagine the roar from our families in Times Square when we gather to watch the video together and see them each on the big screen.
And if you all are free on September 25th and can make it into the Big Apple,,,,come walk with us,,,,,,,Come walk with Aunt Maddy and Emma Sage!!!