The day after the movers unloaded the truck, we were all busily moving boxes from one place to another as we unpacked. The front door was wide open as we trekked back and forth from car to garage to house. I vaguely remember being surprised by finding a little girl walking upstairs in our house. She was short, had straight black hair, cut in a pageboy style. It was 1972.
This little girl was Jeanne. She lived in the house across the street with her 3 brothers and 1 sister. She was seven years old. And she had Down syndrome.
I. loved. her.
We spent hours and hours playing. She was thrown into the busy neighborhood games of tag, kickball and Ghost in the Graveyard. She'd come over to play and I'd teach her how to play Go Fish. We'd play in the sand box. We'd bake brownies together. She came to all my birthday parties.
We never argued. No middle school drama with Jeanne. She was one of my very best-loved friends.
Linda, Jeanne's older sister, was my age. I remember Linda being proud that Jeanne was in the "Educable" class at her segregated school. She told me about the differences between "educable" and "trainable". This was in the early days of public school providing any sort of education for children with cognitive disabilities.
Our neighborhood was amazing. So many children, every one accepted Jeanne--looking out for her, including her in our games, running through the sprinkler, climbing trees...
|Guessing this was about my 13th birthday party. Jeanne was about 11.|
|Hannah, Rosemary, Me, Karen, Kathy, Linda (Jeanne was in the hot tub!)|
I think that everyone is made better by having interesting, loving, funny, caring, genuine people. That's some of the best of having a person with Down syndrome in my life. Lots and lots of people with Down syndrome.