March 26, 2014 § Leave a comment
Last Friday, it was world Down Syndrome Day. On Saturday, my family gathered to celebrate my older brother’s 40th birthday.
My brother, Stephen, lives with Down Syndrome. I had no idea there was a day of recognition for Down Syndrome until photos began popping up in my Facebook newsfeed, posted by mothers celebrating their children who have this condition. It started me thinking, remembering my childhood, and what it was like growing up twenty five years ago with a sibling who was ‘different’.
There wasn’t the acceptance and support that exists nowadays. And while I don’t remember ever being teased, I do remember stares whenever we were shopping or out in the community.
It wasn’t always easy growing up with my brother. He was incredibly stubborn as a child, and more than once I ended up doing his chores as well as my own. But at only two years older, he was a great playmate. I remember many hours of playing outside together: cricket, riding bikes, and then basketball on the driveway.
We shared a bedroom for a while, and a love of swimming in our backyard pool and on holidays.
He had a great love of musicals, and would watch The Sound of Music all the way through, only to instantly rewind the tape and watch it again. I think I know all the words to that movie, as well as Thoroughly Modern Millie and Calamity Jane.
Stephen now lives independently, with some support. Nearly every weekend he goes to lunch with our mother, and so I often catch up with him there. For his birthday my family, my sister’s family and our mother all came together, a rarity in these busy times.
We had chinese takeaway and I made a chocolate and salted caramel cake. Being one of the major birthday milestones, I just had to put all 40 candles on the cake!