30 July 2010

Ruth Esther

Today I decided to get in the pool for Sheridan's water therapy. I usually sit on the side of the pool and chit-chat the whole hour with his PT. But today, I took the plunge. Sheridan was eager to get in the pool early so I obliged by getting in so we could play for 10 minutes while we waited for his session to start.

And that's when we met a sweet, 70-something-year-old woman who was walking back and forth, slowly, along the side of the pool (I later found out she recently had hip surgery and was walking in the water as part of her recovery).

The moment she laid eyes on us she paused and watched us carefully.

As soon as we were shoulder deep in the water she stopped me and asked, "is he a Downs baby?"

"He has Down syndrome, yes," I said (always modeling person-first language, y'all!).

"Oh! I had a Downs baby, too!"

And I smiled.

That's when I learned about Ruth Esther, a woman who had Down syndrome, lived with her parents, loved gardening, and most of all, loved sewing. She was such an accomplished seamstress, she entered her creative pieces into the California State Fair and won a second place silver medal... twice.

I learned that Ruth died eight years ago at the age of 33 - very young. And I was deeply saddened for her mom. She said Ruth had "lung problems" her whole life and one night simply died in her sleep.

"If you have to go, that's the way to go. Trust me, I'm an old woman and I can only hope I get to go the way Ruth did," she said with a chuckle and glassy eyes.

She told me that Sheridan would be my greatest joy in life. The light who brightens my world.

I told her that he already is.