Monday, December 17, 2007

Homesick?

I received Christmas cards today from 2 very special people. Both are friends of ours from California, and both have had such a huge influence in my decision to go into the field of Special Education. They were both on our Special Olympic Swim Team (again, I haven't yet gotten that far in the writing of my life) and have been a part of our lives since 1999. They are definitely worth sharing about, and hopefully I can find some digital pictures (my Special Olympic years were well before I ever had a digital camera!) to share.

Michael and his mom Pat are both brave people. Michael was born with Down Syndrome, and he has 2 other siblings (a brother and a sister). The children are grown and married, except Michael. Michael's father passed away quite a few years ago, and Michael requires constant care. Pat and Michael lived down the street from us when we lived in our apartment off base. It was nice to be able to stop by for a visit anytime I was so inclined. Pat was a probation officer, but as Michael aged and grew progressively more dependent on her, she had to quit working. Pat is now in her late 60s and Michael is in his mid-40s. A couple of years ago Pat informed me that Michael has severe dementia. Obviously the older he gets, the worse his dementia becomes. It breaks my heart because he doesn't remember us, and even more sadly, the impact on our lives that he made.

The other card we received was from our friends Dick and Carolyn, and their family. They have 4 children, and Dawn, their 3rd born, was born with Down Syndrome. TJ and I still laugh at some of the sayings she had, and just the other night we had a good laugh. Dawn and another good friend of ours named Kendra used to affectionately call us "Chicken Nugget" when they saw us. We never understood why (it was part of the humor of their mental ages- at the time, the chronological ages of both girls was 15 but mental age was closer to 6 or 7 ). Anyway, Carolyn enclosed a picture taken from their oldest son's wedding this past summer. I can't believe at how much older everyone has become. Their family is originally from Marion, OH and Carolyn gave me some dates as to when they will be in Ohio next summer. I hope to coordinate something as we would LOVE to see them again.

My dream vacation since we moved here was to take our children back to California to meet the families who had such an impact on our lives when we were away from ours. I loved the athletes on my swim team dearly, and spent many hours outside of the pool realm with them. The athletes and their families knew TJ well before my own family did, and they were with me for 8 months of my pregnancy with Th. We moved just before he was born in 2002.

Thanks for the memories Pat and Carolyn, and thanks for the updates! We think of you all often!