Just What You Need

This is essay three in the ‘Meet the Travelers’ series highlighting families during Down Syndrome Awareness Month.

The traffic was kind to me this day. Lights were green and all was well with the morning. I hear a familiar voice over the speakers. ‘Your destination is ahead on the left.’ I look a bit farther down the road and think ‘Yep. There it is. On the left.

I pull into the lot, park, and gather my samples. I’m meeting a prospective client today who is getting married and needs a seamstress for the little girls in her party. I walked into Starbucks, found a secluded corner and turned it into Project Runway.

A bit later she walked in. She had a pretty smile and a beautiful cocoa complexion. She walked right over to Project Runway and said, “Hi. Are you Taasha?”

I laughed and said, “Yes. I guess you could tell.”

Until then I had only talked to her on the phone. This was our first time meeting and I wanted to make a good impression, especially for a bride. We talked about the samples and what she wanted for the little ones. She was comfortable to talk to and the conversation drifted into stories about our own children. She asked how I started sewing and I told her about my daughter and her disability. Sewing was one of the ways I could work from home since I needed to have a flexible schedule to accommodate hers.

“Really?!? she said. My brother has Down syndrome. “

Morning stroll to the bus stop

Those words gave me so much comfort. I had met a kindred spirit. She had picked this place to meet because it was nearby and she wouldn’t have to leave her brother for a long period of time.

“Really?!? she said. My brother has Down syndrome.” Those words gave me so much comfort. I had met a kindred spirit. #theluckyfew #downsyndrome #shortstories

I got the project. I sewed three dresses, made matching bows, and her veil. But most of all I gained a new friend. Scratch that… new family.

The universe has a way of giving you what you need when you need it. Who knew that my new client would understand my life in a way that very few could. She had lived it too.

Meet Shelly.

Shelly and her brother, Renald

I am the 8th child and was supposed to be the last.  But I kept begging my parents for years to have a little sister for me and God blessed me with a loving brother.  

The universe has a way of giving you what you need when you need it. #downsyndrome #theluckyfew

My brother Renald, “Big Baby”, is the family miracle sibling. While Renald was in our mother’s womb, her doctor suggested that she have an abortion because he was going to be born with Down syndrome. Our mother politely told the doctor she was going to have him…and changed her doctor.  

At the age of 3, Renald had a stroke and was left parlyzed from the waist down.  During his time in the hospital, his doctors predicted he wouldn’t see the age of 21. Today Renald is a healthy 35-year-old that loves being around his family, watching all Rocky’s movies, listening and dancing to all genres of music, and is a huge wrestling fan.  He is a very caring person and has a great sense of humor. 

He is limited in doing things, being that he is paralyzed, like being able to get on and off the bed by himself, getting onto his wheelchair, taking a shower, cooking a meal and changing himself. He needs 24-hour care and we had to establish a routine for him.  

We have a strong village!

Since Renald was born we have not left each other’s side.  I changed my plans of leaving the city after graduating from high school to help our parents raise him. I decided to go to college locally and bought a house nearby. That way, if our parents needed to go to work, go out of town, or some personal time, there would always be someone with Renald.  We are always hanging out, going on vacations, and dancing around the place like no one is watching. 

I always make it a big deal for his birthday.  I planned to overdo it this year for his 35th birthday but COVID put a halt to that. We decided to do a private dinner at our parent’s house for him.  He didn’t care how small it was and he had a great time. That was the main goal. I love my baby brother so much that I have a tattoo of his name and face. I also named one of my sons after him.  Of all our siblings I can truly say I am Renald’s favorite because he is mine.

SP:lb

Are you a fellow traveler?  To submit your story as a guest contributor, CLICK HERE

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