Thursday, July 19, 2012


I've spent chunks of today writing this post in my mind.  However, now that 3 little boys are asleep and I can finally sit down at the computer, the words escape me.  Today began as many do with me scanning the online obituaries in both my local and hometown newspapers.  [Say what you will and laugh if you must, but 9 chances out of 10, the day will come when you will do the same.]

The name and face staring back at me was that of a man I haven't seen for at least 25 years... a man of few words... and yet a man who's boyhood has no doubt impacted where I am today.

Scott, who was always "Scotty" to me, was born 47 years ago with a little something extra.  I've never heard his birthstory, but I'm pretty sure his diagnosis of Down syndrome came as a surprise to first-time parents, Patti & Jerry.  Subsequently, 3 more boys joined their family, one of which was my classmate and friend Kenny.

I'm not sure how our families first became friends.  Perhaps it was because we attended the same church, or maybe it was just due to 'small town Central Pennsylvania'.  Either way, I have many childhood memories of Saturday evenings spent with Scotty's family.  Often, our parents would play Uno  while we kids entertained ourselves with whatever kids did in the 70's.

There was the time that the snow on their lane was so deep that we had to park on the main road and Jerry had to come get us on the snowmobile.  I'm not sure that evening would be so memorable were it not for the fact that Jerry and my mom did a loop through the field and tipped the snowmobile.  I remember making homemade icecream in their basement and Pepsi, poured from a glass bottle.

My most vivid memory of Scotty is with his Matchbox cars.  That boy had a collection to end all collections.  He spent hours upon hours lining them up in perfectly straight rows.  Don't touch them or he'd know!

While I can't say that Scotty and I ever interacted much during those years, he definitely impacted my views and subsequently, my life.  You see, Scotty was my first exposure to Down syndrome.  I had no understanding of 21st chromosomes or Simian creases.  I knew Scotty was different than I, yes.  But more than that, I knew Scott was just... well... Scotty.  Ds has never been 'scarey' to me.  It's been Scotty, our neighbor Mike, and campers Michael P., Mark, & Marshall... but never scarey.  I know each of these relationships has, in some way, opened my eyes and my heart.  Today, I celebrate Scotty's influence.

And tonight, as I kiss my own almond-eyed little boy goodnight, I can say I've experienced just a taste of what Patti and Jerry have known for 47 years... the blessings wrapped in that extra 21st chromosome are beyond measure.

Please keep Scotty's family in your prayers.