|Kelly and Sterling on Valentine's Day|
About a month ago Jerry told me he'd ordered tickets to the Valentine's Day Willie Nelson concert at the new Austin City Limits in the new W Hotel in downtown Austin.
Jerry knows I'm not a great fan of such, but even I agreed we'd best go see Willie while we still can, before he or one of us shuffles off the mortal coil. So far so good.
But then the week before Valentine's Day, Kelly asked me about having a “Valentine's Double Date.” She was crushed when I told her we had plans. You see, about seven years ago or so we took her and the boyfriend Sterling out on Valentine's Day, and as every parent of a kid with Down syndrome should understand by now, having done something once and liked it means you are now committed to a tradition that stretches to infinity and beyond.
So I asked Jer how about taking them out Sunday evening for dinner. I called Martha House to see a) if they were available and b) if they wanted to go.
Is the Pope Catholic!? Of course they wanted to go, and Sunday was even way better, it turned out, because the real Valentine's Day fell on Monday this year, and everybody knows Monday is Walmart Day, and you don't mess with Walmart Day.
When we went to pick Sterling up at the Spur, his parents were just finishing installing his new TV. We chatted a while and then headed to Elgin to a Mexican restaurant. Kelly and Sterling were their ususal irrepressible selves, goofing off and turning serious by turns.
Halfway to Elgin Kelly said, “We're almost done with the question book, Mom.” She was referring to 101 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Becoming Engaged, which she and Sterling have been working through with Casey the case manager and, on occasion, Casey's patient prince of a husband, Matt.
Kelly is in a fever to get married. Sterling is rarin' to go some days but on others says, “I'm not ready yet.” Time will tell.
After we'd dropped them off, Jerry and I reminisced about that first Valentine's Day double date.
Sterling at the time was still living at home with his mom and brothers in a rural area outside Elgin. He and Kelly were in what I called the “Bambi-Filene” stage. They'd been friends since childhood, and had always had a great time playing together. Then adolescence came along and they weren't sure what to do with each other. They got awkward and Kelly had no idea how to relate to Sterling anymore. Sometimes she would not even look at him.
But later, when Sterling came to work in the day program of the Ranch following his graduation, their relationship cemented as they were able to spend time together on a daily basis.
They broke up once, which caused a seismic wave to roll through all the counselors from camp who knew them, one of whom emailed in anguish, “I can't live in a universe where Kelly and Sterling aren't together!”
It didn't last long.
Last night they were discussing being together on the work team with Miss Naomi. “We are professionals,” said Kelly. “No kissing until after five o'clock.”
“That's right,” chimed in Sterling. “We kiss after five o'clock.”
Sterling was happy to get back to his new TV and had plans for writing about our evening together. Kelly was happy to get back to Martha House. As we dropped her off, she turned to me and said, “Thanks for doing this, Mom.”
“My pleasure, daughter,” I said. “I love you.”
And I do.