By Candy R.
A little more than 28 years ago, my daughter Kimberly was born. She likes to be called Kim, but I love the name Kimberly! I had no idea what kind of journey I would be taking with this precious child when she was born. My husband and I fell in love with her the moment we saw her!
We have two other children, a son 31, and a foster daughter 21, besides Kimberly. What do I want for all of my children? HAPPINESS!! I believe that all 3 of my children have achieved that in their lives. My children all lead different lives, but they share one thing in common, they are all very happy people. I am proud of each of them for the person that each has become. They are using the gifts and talents that God has given them, and that is what we each must do in this journey called life.
Kimberly’s courage and strength to endure over 70 surgeries has been amazing. She would wave and say “bye, see you later” being wheeled into surgery. She is the wind beneath my wings. She has taught me to stop and smell the roses, she has taught me what the word patient really means…”let me explore mom, and find out things for myself…..I can do things if you let me try!
Let me be YOUR teacher! ”
We have never seen Kimberly as a person with Down Syndrome. Yes, she has that diagnosis, but she is a person, our child first, secondly comes this diagnosis. Many times in a new doctors office, we would be asked to fill out paperwork. Many times we didn’t write down that she had Down Syndrome…..why you ask….we simply forgot…..that is…until the doctor would either remind us or tell us or ask us. If we didn’t put the focus on the words Down Syndrome, maybe they wouldn’t either! We always wanted to focus on her abilities!
We have always told Kimberly that she is unique. Everyone is. We all have very special qualities about each of us. Kimberly is in many ways, like us, in many ways like other people that have Down Syndrome, but she is also very different than others that have DS. She has many talents like being able to spell words forwards and backwards. She spells words backwards faster than I can think! This is an amazing ability. Her brother while attending college brought her into his class to show how she does this. He is a very gifted person, but cannot spell backwards the way that she can. She began to read at age 4 ½, just like her brother. Her foster sister, cannot spell as well as Kimberly can to this day! Her love for people and her family is evident in every day life. Not many parents in this world are told at least once or twice a day, how much their child loves them. Kimberly without fail tells us each and every day how important we are to her and how much she loves us. She is a true blessing!
Kimberly knows that she has Down Syndrome. When she was in her early teens she watched a movie about a couple that had a new baby with Down Syndrome. She noticed right away that the baby looked similar to her. She then began to ask us many questions and still does. Her number one question to us is…why do I have Down Syndrome? We can only tell her that she is here on this earth to teach people…how to love, care and give of themselves to others as she does each day. She loves to be loved! In return she gives that away so unselfishly. The day after her birthday you can find her in her room writing thank you notes for gifts given to her. She does this without being reminded. She truly enjoys thanking people for being her in life.
Since the day Kimberly was born, we always had high expectations of her. The words, ‘she cannot do that’ simply were not in our vocabulary. I taught her brother the sounds of the alphabet at age 3-4 and decided to do the same with Kim. She was like a thirsty little sponge that just took it all in. The more I got excited the more she wanted to learn! We were very fortunate to have the blessing of a wonderful preschool-early elementary school special needs teacher that worked diligently with her on her reading, writing, spelling, and math. Without him, I think that my efforts would have been fruitless. We worked together as a team and were rewarded by the amazing abilities of Kimberly. At age 4, she was awarded “student of the month” at her elementary school. That was just the beginning of her academic achievements!
At age 20 months, Kimberly began going to an early intervention class five days a week. The first day at school she learned the sign for ball! She could say da-da and ma-ma, but had never actually used a word for something before that day. We encouraged her to learn more and more sign language as the years went by. Today, she signs to people who are deaf, signs the praise words for songs at our church, sometimes in the choir, sometimes not. She can speak clearly, but has the ability to know this second language. We were delighted one day at a restaurant, when she noticed a couple eating dinner together and signing. She asked if she could go and sign to them and we of course said yes. This couples eyes lit up when Kim went over and introduced herself in sign language to them. She found out that they were celebrating a special anniversary! I think that Kim added a special dimension to that couple’s life that day. In their world of silence, a young gal with Down Syndrome befriended them and gave of herself once again.
Last October she was given the chance to give the speech at the Buddy Walk. She was thrilled beyond imagination! She wrote her own speech and delivered it without a flaw. She has given many speeches throughout the years, one memorable one was at her Grandfathers Memorial service. He was her buddy, and she did him proud with the speech she wrote and gave about him. God has blessed her with the ability to write and speak from her heart!
When Kimberly turned 5 years old, my neighbor encouraged me to put Kimberly in the same dance class that her daughter was in, a tap-ballet class taught at a dance studio nearby. I was in awe that my neighbor would encourage me to do that. Wouldn’t she be embarrassed that my daughter was in her daughters dance class? I can only tell you that both Kimberly and I felt so much love from the dance teachers and other parents who had children at that dance studio. Kimberly still dances today. She still takes dance lessons, hip hop and jazz are her favorites!
Kimberly and I love to go shopping, have lunch out, watch the Gilmore Girls TV show together while eating popcorn and plan her dates with her boyfriend. Oh, did I forget to mention that she does have a boyfriend? They have been dating for over a year now, and talk about getting married. They talk on the phone just about every night. It is wonderful to see her beam when he calls her or when she sees him coming up the walkway! She wants to wear my wedding dress! She is my daughter and I am very proud of her!