Just a few of my random thoughts today. We went to Memphis over spring break. It is like going home because we spent 10 years there. It is where Rachel was born and it’s where my “war buddies” are. I miss my war buddies. We may talk 2-3 times a week and stay in touch with email and Facebook but it isn’t the same as being there. So many precious people who helped me along the journey and so many that I look at and beam with pride knowing how long their journey has been and how it has had many mountaintops and valleys. It was good to share in laughter and some serious conversation with so many good friends from the Down syndrome world, Faith Baptist world and our friends the Atkins who are just with us forever!
It was good to celebrate the abilities of individuals with Down syndrome. We had the honor and privilege of being part of the IDSC’s (International Down Syndrome Coalition) “Who I Am” wrap up for World Down Syndrome Day celebration. Kudos to ED Diane Grover and her gang for putting together a nice program and celebration. Part of the program was the shortened version of the “Just Like You-Down Syndrome” video. I must tell you I couldn’t have been more proud of Rachel. We wrote a few thoughts for her to share. When Diane invited her up to speak, she went impromptu on me. This is all good and fine except I don’t know when this might turn into a filibuster. But not on that day. With great poise, clarity of speech and that smile she said “Thank you for this wonderful opportunity. Thank you for doing this. Thank you for coming to see Just Like You-Down Syndrome.” She was able to show her “beautiful self” to her roots. It was good celebrating with our roots!
It was a treat to spend time with Ben, Becky and family. Not enough time. It’s never enough time but we are thankful for any time. Ben is Rachel’s first friend. He had to go to school and he had lots of homework, but it was still fun to share a little and to see his beautiful sister in a great high school production of “Seussical.” We took along a few of Rachel’s Memphis buddies to that too. They are all growing up too fast but seem to still enjoy one another’s company.
And she saw her babysitter. Melissa Wilkes was Rachel’s first teenaged babysitter. She was probably 14 when she started and watched was our go to girl throughout high school. It was a sad day for us when Melissa graduated. Rachel loves her very much. Melissa is an all grown up college graduate working as a social worker now. Rachel is very interested in Melissa’s love life! Melissa came out to the IDSC celebration so she could see Rachel and introduce her to her young man in her life. Mostly, she is just a great person and she enjoyed joining us in celebrating Rachel. She may be all grown up but she will always be “my babysitter” to Rachel.
Maybe the greatest joy of the few days visiting Memphis for me was when Rachel saw her “Holley.” Rachel hasn’t seen Holley in a year. We had not seen most of our Memphis friends in a year. Holley is our long-time friend who has loved Rachel since before she was born. Holley is mom to Anna Garris (AG) who Rachel will tell you is her BFF (“Destined to be BFF’s”). When Holley and Anna Garris walked toward us, the smile turned to excitement and the girl ran to “her Holley.” She loves Holley and Holley loves her. They have this very special relationship that you can just look at them and see how very much they love one another. Precious and priceless.
It snowed nine inches while we were out. On our journey home a friend left a message that said, “We went to clean your drive. We didn’t want you to come home from a long trip to a covered drive but someone had already cleaned it.” Our wonderful neighbors. Our wonderful friends.
We are blessed.