Have a Wonderful Day Celebrating You!!!
“He’s just different”…these are some of the words these three sisters recall hearing as our dad gathered us together to share the details of the newest arrival to our family. Byron was born on March 1, 1973 and was the ninth child in our family. For us, making room for another brother or sister was not unusual, in fact it was a pretty usual event. Our parents always knew they wanted a large family and they accomplished their goal! But, this delivery was different—and because our mom was still in the hospital, it fell to our dad to explain this special delivery.
Daddy gathered his children together to share how the birth of this new brother was “different” than the ones before him. This brother was born with something called Down Syndrome. We’d never really heard of something like this before. Daddy continued…he explained that this brother was going to look different. This brother was probably going to have physical characteristics different from the rest of us. Byron would have stubby-webbed fingers, a short neck, and a flat bridge to his nose. We quickly decided this appearance thing wasn’t a problem at all. No one outside our family would ever have to know he was “different”—we would just dress him in sunglasses, turtlenecks and gloves and no one would be the wiser! The bubble soon burst when Daddy reminded us that we lived in Florida and the heat would make this “disguise” impossible!
He went on to share that he and mom weren’t sure what Byron would be capable of—the doctors weren’t very encouraging. The doctors had warned there was no promise Byron would ever be able to walk or talk, they weren’t sure if he would ever have the mental capacity to have opinions or make decisions They weren’t sure how a baby like Byron would fit in with eight “normal” brothers and sisters. The doctors recommended it would probably be best for their “normal” children if this new baby not go home. They suggested several “very good” institutions with resources to handle a baby like Byron…the doctors further explained, “he’s just different.”
To that point, Daddy told us he and mom had a plan. Good—we needed a plan. They decided they were going to raise Byron just as they had raised us. Our job was to treat this brother just as we treated our other siblings. Perfect—we knew just what to do!
Byron and our mom soon came home from the hospital and we all discovered Byron was different, but different in only positive ways. This baby was a bit slower to learn, but he did learn. He walked, he talked, he made decisions and he had opinions! Not many people could get away with telling Daddy no—Byron had the honor of being one of the few. When Byron held his ground and told Daddy “no-sir”—Daddy would chuckle and say, “I love it—that’s my son, the son who would never have an opinion!”
Byron’s easy-going temperament and zest for life has been a guiding light for all of us! His “differences” have made our family different. As a family, we are closer because of him, we are more loving because of him, we are more patient because of him, we are more understanding because of him, and we are more appreciative because of him. Our lives are enriched because of him.
Byron’s influence on our family has been profound—we strive each day to be more like him. Daddy was right—he’s just different!