Thursday, December 10, 2009

We're More Alike Than Different, Part II

Part II of Nov. 26th's post, We're More Alike Than Different, Pt. I. This post was written by Julie Scott-Trask, Oakville, Ontario. An excerpt from "The IDEAL Way to Cook: Food for Thought".

When I moved to Canada in 1976 I went home every year, sometimes twice a year. After mum died, David began to visit me. He came every year in the summer and then twice a year (summer and Christmas). I loved his visits and he loved coming. He adopted my in-laws as "his family" and took great pride in being Uncle David to my children. He held them, fed them and played with them. He had endless patience for their games and they repaid him with their love. These were precious times for me. At times we laughed together until we cried, he amazed everyone with his memory for move stars long forgotten, and I indulged his passion for wrestling by taking him to Maple Leaf Gardens.

As David aged, health issues finally prevented him from coming to stay with me. This created a huge void in my life. Now I go home to England as often as I can and visit him in his home. He lives in a house with up to three friends, all with developmental delays. The group has changed in very recent years because two of his longtime friends and housemates died. They are visited once a day from Monday to Friday by a social worker. Together they form their own family unit. Doreen has been a constant companion. She is retired and in her 60s. Her conversation is punctuated with lots of "Loves" and "Darlins". She constantly reassures me that they look after each other. Having spent time with them, I know that to be true. David's life is rich and full. When I visit him, he fits me into his life just as he used to fit into mine when he came here.

He is everything, and has the life that my parents strove for with their love and courage.

David has always been generous and patient with a world that could not embrace him, perhaps even feared his difference as if it might be contagious, and that often teased and laughed at him. Looking back, it was as if he drew strength from an inner well of knowing that he was loved without measure by his family and friends. Maybe he knew that one day the world would mature and change as its understanding grew?

I know that if the world had David's heart, it would be a very peaceful world indeed.

David is the mirror I look into as I have strived to create meaningful programs for my students these past 11 years. He is a constant reminder that they can and that I must never assume to know the limit of anyone's ability, that they will constantly surprise me if I give them the opportunity.



Pierre said...

God blessed me with a ‘normal’ son named Marc and I was most moved by the YouTube clip of the young man with Down syndrome, also named Marc, saying a blessing before eating his food.

I had the earlier good fortune to read the Julie Scott-Trask entry directly from the outstanding "The IDEAL Way to Cook: Food for Thought", and the quality of Julie’s loving relationship with her brother, David, is inspirational.

Clearly, their parents must have ‘done something right’.

Maureen Lee said...

Pierre, I too was moved by seeing Marc saying a blessing before eating his food. And I love his philosophy that "nothing is going to stop me; nothing is going to get in my way." As he said, "Never say 'never'. Say, "I can do it." He reminds me of IDEAL-WAY's founder, Robert Pio Hajjar, who also emphasizes that we are to never give up.

I agree that Julie's story is touching, and "clearly, their parents must have done something right"! As it said in the video, "if you have low expectations, they (Down syndrome individuals) will slide. If you have high expectations, they will rise to meet them and surpass them every single time."

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