My sister Judy had a birthday party dinner last week and it was really wonderful. You know the feeling you get when you get so happy that it makes you feel sad? I felt a bit like that.
Judy has developmental disabilities so she kind of operates like a seven-year-old at times. Her friends were mostly from her school and programs she's involved in and a few of her friends have Down's Syndrome. My family picked a restaurant that does events with people who have developmental disabilities and the waitstaff was super-nice (The Bicycle Club in Englewood Cliff, NJ--a really nice space with great people).
When the menus were passed out, one of the kids asked if there was a party menu and when my sister Jenny said, "No party menu, you can order anything you want in the regular menu."
He gasped, "We can order off the REGULAR menu?"
You could tell that inside, he was thinking: Boy, this is CLASS.
It was sweet to see all those kids together. Each person has different disabilities. For example, some kids are shy about asking where the bathroom was, some kids won't eat vegetables, some have special food restrictions, some need help walking because they have physical disabilities. What was amazing was that they all knew each other so well, that they helped each other out.
One girl took away her all her neighbor's vegetables because he won't eat his ribs if vegetables are touching them. (Of course, I'm thinking: Man, his poops must be tough!) One girl with Down's Syndrome needed to go to the bathroom and a friend helped her find it. It was nice to see that everyone had their strengths and weaknesses and as a group of friends, they all worked together to help each other out. I wished that more people could be like that.
Jenny also made these gorgeous decorations with banners, place cards, cupcake flags and goodie bags. She spent hours and hours printing them up and putting it all together. And it did not go unappreciated. When we wrapped up the party, we discovered that a lot of the kids kept all those paper decorations--even the cupcake flags. How cute is that?
Jenny got cupcakes from Manhattan for the party, and on the way home, one of the girls told her mom, "We ate cupcakes from NEW YORK!" It was just so nice because these kids just APPRECIATED the hell out of every little thing and it did kind of make us feel like a million bucks.
I mean, the night was all:
"You're so PRETTY!"
"Where'd you get this? You MADE this? WOW! You're REALLY GOOD!"
"Judy, your sisters are SO NICE!"
"Who's this? Hi! Nice to meet you!"
"I LOVE your dress!"
What's not to love?
I've heard of so many people who terminate their Down's Syndrome babies and it actually made me cry when I got home because these kids were so sweet and kind. And I know that growing up, a lot of my parents' friends have felt sorry for us, but we're so lucky to have Judy in our lives.
I mean, who else has a person in their lives who, no matter what he or she does, will ALWAYS love them unconditionally?
This is how nice my sister Judy is--when she first started work at the library, there was a co-worker there who HATED Judy. In fact, she tried to get the boss to get rid of Judy a bunch of times. I mean, what a creep, right?
About a few months after Judy started her job, I asked her how this co-worker was doing--and if she was being any nicer. Judy said:
"Oh, YES. She's SOOO much nicer now."
"Really?" I asked her. "What's different?"
"Now, sometimes she says hi!"