Hello Friends,

TBH  – The following thoughts come from a journal note jotted few years back

– but it could have been yesterday.

I’m thinking of the people we meet, when we’re walking down the street, or…in Marcus and my case,

when we sit at the bar.

Like the other night, Marcus and I went to a nearby restaurant and sat at the bar. Given the option, he prefers to sit at the bar. I asked him if this is so he can talk to other people or because he can watch sports. His answer: “Both.” So…there ya go.

Anyway, I want to share about our evening’s interactions.

Congratulations For Being In Public

First, shortly after we got our drinks we were approached by a couple, a bit older than me I thought, but not by much. The man pulled out his phone and said “I just want to congratulate you for having a drink at the bar with your son. This is me and our son New Year’s Eve.”

He showed me the picture of him with his son, another adult with Down syndrome, holding up their beer. He told me his son is about 42 years old. It was a great picture.

He also told me that when their son was born things were different. Which we all know…but don’t really know.

He expounded that when his son turned 21, the two of them went to the birth-doctors grave, and…

but the mother shushed him.

I did not.

If I could

At these moments I wish I could stop the world, pull them aside, ask a million questions and know more. Much more. But the world spins, the bar bustles, and they moved back to their own table to finish their evening and soon went home. Hmmm.

Sadly, even now, they are right to share congratulations. There is a risk for Marcus going out that many others in the bar don’t share. One extreme and tragic example of this was the 2013 death of Ethan Saylor, a young man with Down syndrome, who was killed at the hands of off-duty police officers. Then the local Sheriff’s family publicly blamed Patti Saylor for her son’s death because it was she who allowed Ethan to be in the community.


You can read more about that on the Huffington Post, here: ACCORDING TO JENKINS, BEST TO KEEP A PERSON WITH DOWN SYNDROME AT HOME

So…As I’ve said many times before, we’ve come so far, and yet…

The Good Ones

Then we met another couple who sat near us at the bar. They started talking to Marcus about his hat. (Marcus’ hats are not only stylish, but good conversation starters.)

Because of the way this person interacted with Marcus, I guessed he has some connection (personal or occupational) with people (or a person) with learning and/or communication disabilities.

The starnger’s speech and tone emulated the difference between talking to a person instead talking at them. The difference between carefully listening (and watching for other communication cues, we all have them) and responding, instead of immediately looking at me to translate. Also conversing naturally and not either condescending or cutesy. Just chatting and listening.

It was nice and fun and although Marcus and I, not infrequently, enjoy going out to together, it still felt a little extra special.

The world is full of the scary and the special. Of needing patience and full of courage.

I don’t want to be impressed that people are kind and listen, but when it happens, I still am.