A Letter to the Elderly Parents and their Down Sydrome Daughter at the Dollar Store: 

Posted: March 21, 2015 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Dear Parents….

Parked in front of the dollar store today, waiting for my own Mom who was making a quick pick up inside, I watched as the two of you walked out of the store, both looking to be in your late sixties or early seventies, probably well into your retirement years. Between you stood your daughter, her arm looped through her fathers as the three of you made your away across the parking lot to your car. 

It wasn’t hard to tell there was something different about the scene unfolding in front of me. Your daughter, who was almost as tall as you, Dad, walked with a slight wobble from side to side, her feet slightly turned outwards. Her head also tipped from side to side, her shoulder length brown hair swaying in unison. As both of you and your daughter approached your vehicle, Dad, you let go of her arm to place your wife’s bags in the trunk and unlock the doors for both of them. 

It was then that I got my first glimpse of your daughter. Her brown hair was cut in a shoulder length simple style, curling in at the edges of her neck. Her neck was short- not really short but shorter than most. Her nose was somewhat flattened, her ears and mouth were small, and her eyes slanted upward. It was then that I realized you were the parents of a daughter living with Down syndrome. I also realized that your daughter was probably around my age, maybe a couple of years earlier, in her early thirties. 

As I watched you, Dad, help her into the car, checking to make sure she had buckled her seat belt properly, the reality of her life began to sink in. Here was this girl, no, this young woman, yet a girl in so many ways, at a point in her life when she could possibly be living the same kind of life that I am. 

My head was swimming with thoughts and realizations. She would never go to college, graduate, or have a career. She would never know what it means to fall in love, never experience sharing her life with a partner. She would never plan her wedding, shop for a wedding dress, and have her father, who just held her arm in his, walk her down the aisle in that same fashion.  She would never know the joy of carrying a baby inside of her, feel the bittersweet pain of bringing a baby, her baby, into this world. She would never know the magnitude of love as she held them in her arms. There were so many wonderful things in life that she would never experience. 

And, Mom and Dad, I felt guilty. So many times in my life I had felt sorry for myself because of a mental health disorder that, although very challenging and scary at times, was treatable and allowed me, for the most part, to live a completely normal life, yet here was your beautiful daughter who would never experience not only the milestones in life such as marriage and children, but the little things, the menial things, that I take for granted every day. Such as driving my own car to the dollar store. 

I felt guilty for my own trivial self pity, but it was so much more than that. As I sat there watching the interaction between the three of you I realized that you will be full time, hands on, parents for the rest of your lives. While many of us busy Moms and Dads get frustrated and overwhelmed with the day to day responsibilities of parenting such as carpooling, soccer games, school shows, homework, messy bedrooms, loud music, unruly teenagers, and the list goes on and on, someday our children will be grown and have a life of their own. Someday even sooner our kids will be older and require less of our time and be more responsible and independent. Although we will all be parents for the rest of our lives, we will not be the kind of parents that the both of you are. As our kids grow up and leave the nest, she will always be in yours. While our children leave home and make lives of their own, her life will still be with you, and judging from the attention you bestowed upon her as you left the store and got into your car, it’s obvious that this doesn’t bother you in the least. I was humbled and hope that you both know how special, how incredibly selfless and loving you both are and how lucky you are to have each other. 

And I would like to thank you for allowing me, unknowingly, for just a few moments, a glimpse into the life you share. It did this Mom’s heart good. 

Sincerely, 

The Lady in the White Car Parked in Front of the Dollar Store Today 

  

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