A man with a purpose

Travis loves caring for Pete

While obsessively reading everything I could get my hands on regarding Down syndrome when Kelly was still a toddler, I came across an intriguing (and heartbreaking) paper from a professional journal entitled:  The Curious Case of an Overfunctioning Mongoloid.

At that point the article was about 30 years old, but the title sounded like something out of the previous century, as well it could have been.

It concerned an elderly couple in a small town somewhere in the Midwest, who as they aged were increasingly cared for by their son with Down syndrome.  Although they were accustomed to caring for him, as their ability to care for themselves, each other, and their home decreased, their son's increased.

First he took over walking to the small downtown area to shop for food and supplies.  Then he began cooking simple meals.  It took him a while to get the hang of the old-fashioned reel mower used to cut the grass but before long he mastered that, too, and eventually came to handle everything from the laundry to the banking to helping his parents with their personal care needs.

Finally, the old folks just gave out.  After their deaths, the son was taken into custody by the state authorities, administered IQ tests, declared to be mentally defective, and sent to live out his days in a state institution for the feeble-minded.

I hope it wasn't so, but there he probably came to know first hand what the Eden Alternative movement refers to as the three blights of aging and disability: loneliness, purposelessness, and boredom.

What a tragedy!  I quote at this point from a comment received regarding the recent post What if?

“I also could say “What If”?  My OBYGYN Doctor almost mandated me to have an amniocentesis test when I was pregnant with my sweet David, at 38 years old.

“What if I'd taken the test and made the WRONG decision to not complete the pregnancy?  I would have missed out on his happy personality, and he has taught me so much more than I could ever teach him about acceptance and forgiveness.

“He holds no grudges, forgives instantly, and is the joy of my life.  He will be my companion as I get older, and maybe even help take care of me some day!  …

“I accepted my Down syndrome son and after being told of his disability, it's been upwards ever since.  My friend said we should call it Up Syndrome instead!” 

Some may chafe at the implication that David is not being given the chance to create his own life away from the family.  I believe that he is lucky to have a mom who trusts that he can give as well as take in this life. 

I doubt that David feels lonely, bored, or without purpose.

David has a purpose in life.  As the old saying goes, “No man with a friend lacks a purpose in life, ” and David is a valued member of his family and their circle of friends. He has inspired admiration, love, and trust in those who know him, and who count on him in ways that matter.

And how many people do you know who “have a happy personality, hold no grudges and forgive instantly?”