I don't talk much about my work. Mostly because there's not a whole heck about the work to talk about. What is rather interesting is the family I work for. I've blogged before about the three brothers. But I don't mull over them frequently. I do think quite frequently about one of their off spring.
The oldest brother has kind of a sad family story (apart from his amazing brothers). He and his wife led wonderful lives, but their children- not so much. Their only daughter "died" when she was only 25. No one here is quite sure how. Mysterious illness (it was in the 60's, so this is completely possible). Suicide? Could be. We'll never know, I'm sure. It's their son I think about, though.
Here is a young man who would have had the world. His father was a billionaire business man. He flew from NY to Cleveland to Florida to Europe on whims. His mother was a beauty. But their only son has Down Syndrome. Rather severely, if the doctors reports are accurate. He will permanently be 4 years old. Now, this in itself does not make me sad. I know a few people with Down Syndrome who I think live really happy, fulfilling lives. (one makes eyes at LG during church each week.) This boy had led quite a sad life, though. At least to me, it's sad.
Because he was born in the 50's, the doctors convinced his well to do parents that he would be much better off in an institution. They couldn't possibly care for him in their home. He'd be happier at a "facility". And so he has been. For the last 60 years. He's lived at a few places, all rather posh, but still institutions. He never had known a "family" life. Which gives me a pit in my stomach. His father used to visit him regularly (at least monthly), but since he's passed, cousins and sometimes his Aunt go visit "when they can". They send gifts on his birthday, and holidays. But they are not there to see him open them. He lives with nurses, and health aids. His friends are other people who mostly do not know a life at home. They all have each other, which is something I guess.
But when I think of him, my heart sinks. Because he has the mind of a 4 year old. Which is an amazing thing. LG is not yet 4. He understands family. He understands home. And I don't mean as a building. He understands that home means comfort, and Mama and Papa, home means good smells and hugs and little brothers and being safe. He knows that home is not just a place. He knows that he feels different about home than he does about school. (side note: for the first time in his life, last week LG realized that when he felt sick, all he really wanted was to go home) At 4, you understand feelings. At 4 you know you are a person separate from your parents. You begin to understand the world. You can feel hurt, or slighted, or insulted. When you say, "He has the mental capacity of a 4 year old." it doesn't really sound like much. Unless you know a 4 year old. 4 year olds dream amazing things. Airplane rides and jungle adventures. When you're 4, everything is possible. And when someone tells you it's not? 4 year olds don't really understand that.
It kills me to think that this poor little boy (because even though he's nearing retirement, he will always be a little boy) has lived his whole life taken care of by strangers. That he relies on their kindness to make him feel better when he's sick, or feel special on his birthday. I see people with special needs all the time, with their families. You hear the stories on the news of their success. But here's a little boy, with all the money in the world, but no one to really love him. And quite frankly, though I never had the chance to meet his mother, I can not for the life of me understand how she let this happen.