Sometimes I wish I had Down Syndrome. I don’t say that lightly because I know folks with this diagnosis struggle with things just like anyone else. My oldest sister has Downs so for my entire life I’ve had a front row seat to her amazing attitude towards life.
Now, I know generalizing the characteristics of people with Downs will have exceptions but from what I’ve seen in my 38 years with my sister and experiences through Special Olympics and every day life, they are the sweetest people on earth! How’s that for a generalization? 🙂
I hope you can give a handshake or a hug to someone with Down Syndrome while you’re out and about, as October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month. Ask them questions. Chat with them. Enjoy their perspective and learn what you can from it. I’ve learned a lot from my sister, starting way down in Key West, Florida.
That’s where she was born. Then about 7 years later, that’s where I was born. Doesn’t sound like a big deal, right? Two siblings born in the same city? Well, it is a big deal because my dad was in the Coast Guard, so between my sister and I, we have 2 others siblings born in California and Virginia. The chances of she and I being born on the same little island was probably a million to one so that’s something we get to share that I am thankful for!
In my childhood, here’s a little what I remember (and a shout out to my parents for this, as well): she was in public schools, she had jobs, played sports, and was involved at church. She loved being part of whatever was happening, whether it was managing the high school track team in Stafford, VA where she and our other sister attended, or working in the cafeteria at Westminster Christian School when my brother and I were in high school.
Then when college came around, she worked in the equipment room at Florida State. Some would attribute the 1999 championship season to the cleanliness of the towels, just sayin’. *shoulder shrug*
Besides work stuff, though, she’s a great example of being a people person. I remember in college she had a “guy list.” Basically it was whoever was her favorite at the time. But being named Scott, Travis, or Troy helped a lot! Let me tell ya, though, guys were fighting to be #1! I think a few of the best ways to just make the list was simply to talk to her, give her a hug, and well, let’s be honest, you had to be cute. She’s a woman, after all! 😉 Mention anything good about the Gators though, and bam, you’re off the list!
All kidding aside, she’s always loved hugs. She’s so caring, so prayerful, very spirited and so genuine. Nowadays, she works a full-time job. She sings in the church choir. And just the other day she was the honorary water girl at my nephew’s middle school football game. She loves sports, that’s for sure. She’s also so good in front of a crowd, something I admire about her. She will get on a stage to play piano, sing, whatever and yes, she gets nervous about it sometimes, just like I would, but then she goes on stage and slays it!
She knows how to love well, often, and consistently; asking about your day, adding you to her prayer list, and hugging you whether you need it or not.
Her example of how to live right hasn’t changed. She talks to God every day. She reads her Bible. But she does have some fire in her bones, too! Just ask her about the Gators 🙂
She also loves animals, especially every pet that’s ever been in our family including my dogs, Piper and Asia. When I was in middle school our family had a ferret and I kid you not, that thing was evil. Nipper got her name because she gashed our ankles with her devil teeth. She was a wild ferret who wouldn’t be tamed. We couldn’t hold her without being bitten or clawed. Tough times! But they weren’t tough times for my sister. She could pick Nipper up, snuggle her, hold her, pet her and Nipper was as calm as a morning sunrise. It was sweet and slightly frustrating.
But it’s because my sister, at her very core, is sweet and caring.
There are lots of moments I wish I had the personality and disposition of my sister. She’s the best example of how to live with grace, humility, courage, and trust in God every day. If we all loved and cared the way she does, 99% of our problems would disappear. And I’m only leaving the 1% because there would still be Gators out there. 🙂
-Out of the Wilderness