“I had no choice, they took him away and told me he would be dead before he was twenty.”
A trip to the local Walmart ® I often get stopped by the elderly who just love to see children and today was no different.
Shlyoh, Benjamin, Eli, Josiah and I barely cleared the automatic doors, when a lady in her seventies at least, babushka on her head, started to talk. I have learned long ago, that nothing is ever an accident. God has lots of preordained “meetings” designed for us, if we just take that moment and stop and listen.
“My husband was in the service, I had my three children and lots of other children too at times. Back then, it was very different, the women who were married to servicemen depended on each other and no one worked. We took turns taking care of each other’s children…and then… we moved to here…”
Her voice fades, she gets a very far away, sadness in her eyes…I don’t know what happened to her husband, but what I know is this…
“His name was Patrick, when he was born they took him from me. He had Down syndrome. They told me I could not take care of him. They told me he would die by the time he was twenty. They told me that I had no choice….”
Her voice caught and her hand clenched tightly on the cart handle.
“I just spent his 52nd birthday at the home.”
She jerked her head toward the State School, which is still located just across the highway from the store, where “they took all of them.” He spent many years there, then a group home in Altoona, then back here to this county since they like to keep the money inside the county, she reiterated.
“He is still alive.”
I tried to tell her about Josiah in the cart, she had no idea that I had a little one with Down syndrome right there…
but, she was so lost in thought and in the past she did not hear me…lost in time, and what could have been…But she felt cornered, no choice but to give up her son to the state.
I left the store reeling…
My thirteen year old daughter, I am so glad she was there to witness a first-hand account of what had been the way to “deal with” the special ones…
Hold your little ones close…look into their eyes, appreciate the chance you have been given, because not that long ago, in another time, things would have been so much different.