October is Suzie’s birthday month. She was born on the 29th. There was nothing unique about her birth that would have caused concern about her well being. It was only later as she was not reaching developmental milestones that we began to question things.
At her 18 month check up, the doctor matter of factly told me that she was physically and mentally disabled. He stated that she would not walk or talk and would probably only live to about 40 years old.
As you can imagine, that was a devastating thing to hear. And, after the initial shock and tears that accompanied it, we adapted. Even after hearing news like that, one realizes that life goes on and you learn to face each challenge as it arises as best you can.
Suzie’s birthday was always fun since it was so close to Halloween. Her siblings and cousins often came to celebrate wearing their costumes. There was cake and ice cream, of course.
Suzie loved her birthday parties. She would clap and giggle as the family sang to her and everyone “helped” her blow out her candles. Actually, she loved everyone’s birthday party. The smiles, the hugs, the singing, all were part of the life of a big happy family that surrounded her with so much affection and acceptance.
Everyone loved Suzie just as she was and no time was that more evident than on her birthday.
Her favorite presents were picture books. Even though they were hard for her to look at without help. She would sit on the floor and turn them over and over, her face pressed closely to examine the cover art.
She also enjoyed receiving musical gifts like cassette tapes or later cds that she could listen to at bedtime or rest times in the afternoon.
After Suzie moved to her home away from home, we would bring her back to celebrate her birthdays with the family. Sometimes, if her birthday fell in the middle of the week, her celebration would be on the weekend before or after.
One year that I remember, I wasn’t able to be with her on her birthday, so I found a clown that lived close to her group home and hired him to visit her classroom and entertain her and her friends. The picture enclosed shows her laughing at his antics. It was so nice of the staff to send me the picture and it made me happy to see that she enjoyed her birthday that year.
Now that Suzie is gone, it’s fun to remember all those birthday parties, even the ones towards the end of her life, when she was not aware of our presence. October is full of sweet reminders of beautiful and truly loved Suzie, the sweetest of Halloween treats.