Angie Mindus’s photograph of Val Borton and Gilbert Meyers performing with the chime group The Blue Notes at last week’s community living barbecue we ran in the Williams Lake Tribune was gorgeous.
Gilbert’s face was beaming with one of those genuine smiles involving the eyes. Val was determined and seriously ensuring her timing was right on.
Growing up one of my best friends, Alice, had an older sister, Sandra, who was born with Down’s syndrome.
Sandra was institutionalized in Creston for several years but was often home for extended visits.
Like a barometer, Sandra continuously muttered a running commentary about what was happening in and around her.
“June and Tom are fighting,” she’d say about her mom and dad. “June is really mad. Tommy’s drinking again.”
And she always talked about herself in the third person.
“Sandra’s going on a trip?” she’d ask and, just in case, she always had a packed suitcase placed at the front door so she wouldn’t be left behind.
In Patricia Van Tighem’s The Bear’s Embrace, Patricia describes a scene with her Down’s syndrome daughter.
Patricia was mauled by a grizzly bear in Alberta. She lost one of her eyes, had extensive surgeries and often suffered severe depression.
During one of her depressed states, she withdrew herself from her husband and children to an upstairs room in the family home.
One day her Down’s syndrome daughter came upstairs for a visit.
Patricia told the daughter she was too dark to be around the rest of the family.
Without hesitating the daughter told her mom that wasn’t true.
“I can see a big bright light all around you,” she told her mom.
It was a scene that made me wonder if Down’s syndrome people can see us for who we really are.
Is theirs a less tainted view, free of prejudice and preconceived notions?
I believe so.