I should do this more often! Friday I had lunch at McDonalds and got to watch George in action. He has worked at McDonalds for 10 yrs. and when my children were young we use to go quite often to watch Uncle George at work but in the last 5 years or so we have seldom gone there while George was working.
Just some history, George is my brother and he has lived with me and my husband for 28 of our 29 years of marriage. My mother died shortly after our marriage and my father was diagnoed with terminal cancer six weeks later. George has Down Syndrome and is soon to be 47 yrs old and I am one of his sisters and am 5 years his senior.
As I sat down just inside of the play area and I could see George cleaning up the tables of napkins and wrappers. He is very efficient and serious about his work. The room was filled with young mothers and very young children, (school age children being in school) running amuck in the play equipment. I watched as George talked to mothers asking if it was ok to throw some things away and all smiled at George and called him by name as they answered him. (It seems that George is well known to these young mothers and their children) Later I watched as he handled a pushing match between two 4 yr. olds. I started to stand up afraid that the mom would take offence to George telling her son not to push but she came over and made her son apologize to the little girl and to George for having interrupted his work!!! Then a mother asked George to get her 2yr old out of the play equipment (he had climbed up too high to reach.) and George was soon quickly bringing the child down the slide.
I sometimes forget how much things have changed. Attitudes are so different now and I rarely need to educate adults anymore. Kids are still kids but George is such a great ambassador for himself and for future ds adults that I even seldom have to educate them when George is around.
I also forget that George has a whole world of experiences that I know nothing about. Every day he goes to work he meets hundreds of people and they meet him and I know nothing of those encounters but the few glimpses I get when I visit or the many times we have been out together and a stranger will walk up to George and greet him as an old friend. They all know about me, my DH and my children. (George tells everyone about us and shows pictures!) When we ask George how were things at work today all we get out of him is okay.
I wish our parents had lived to see how good George’s life is. They fought so hard to change the hearts and minds of people, always with patience and facts and kindness, (even when they really wanted to sock them) and to see how wonderfully George has been accepted just makes me cry! When my mother was dying she wrote me a wonderful letter (someday I may share it if there is an interest) and in it she expressed her concerns for George's well being and the future. George was still in high school when she died and she never got a chance to see how it all turned out. Well it turned out just fine.
George's life is full of love and friendship and respect. What more could any parent ask for!
Sister of George,(47yrs, ds)
Saw this post on a board I visit often, and was so touched by it. The love and respect is almost palpable, isnt it? I asked permission to share it here, and have asked to see the letter the mom had written as well. I have long had such an incredible sense of gratitude to the moms and dads who went before us and paved the way. We owe them a debt of gratitude. Imagine this mother, dying before she got to know how the story ended? I know that is my worst fear, to not know how Ciarra's life will turn out. I want to be able to look at her life someday and sit back and smile and know all the tears and the battles and the love were worth ten times what they cost us. I want to share George's story as much for his Mom as I do for him and his sister, or for me. I hope she is looking down and seeing that He made it, he is ok. She must've done one heckuva job raising her children, because you can feel the love a hundred miles away. Thanks, Wisha.
This is the letter I received upon my mother’s death, I was 24yrs old and George was 18. My sister and brothers each received a letter. Each was very different and spoke to my mother’s understanding of each of her children. I offer you this letter with the hope you see that what we say to our children can greatly impact on who they are. My mother, though her words has guided us though our lives.
My Dear Felicia,
How can I say “goodbye” to you – my “happy little huntress”? (This refers to my name Felicia Diane which means happy huntress) I have loved each of you equally but each in a different way because of your different needs and individuality. You have always been my “soft” one – too sensitive – too caring. But with all of that, you have a great strength and the will and determination to do the things you must. Like grandmother Brownewell, there is an iron fist in your velvet glove!
I shall be forever grateful to you – you have eased my mind and brought peace to me by your love and willingness to care for George. You – perhaps more than the others – understand that has been the nightmare in the back of my mind; the fear of someday leaving him. Thank you my darling for loving him as much as I do and giving me the greatest of gifts, your love.
I am grateful for the years we have had together and the deep understanding we have had between us.
I hope you children will always remain close and keep in touch with each other – love each other as I have loved you all.
I have no great philosophy to pass on. I hope that you will live your life so that there will be no regrets and that the words honor – duty – honesty – and love are as important to you as they were to me, and to my parents and grandparents. Few of us were ever wealthy but our credit was always good and so was our word.
I have little to bequeath except my love but I love you very much.