I believe that valuing a child or an adult with a handicap is the same as expressing a belief in the value of any human being. I have a sister with a developmental disability. There are four girls, now women, who are my sisters. I am the youngest and the second youngest was born with a developmental disability. I do not know when I realized she had a disability, probably around the time most youngsters start correcting their parents and believe that they know more than anyone else. I thought I had a job to do, protecting her from the bullies on the school grounds and often pleading her case to those in charge. I thought that was hard.
As I got older I get a glimpse of how hard she has always had it. She has some unusual views, believing the tabloid headlines sometimes, sometimes beliefs that just don’t fit in our family—like most families and she has to have the last word. Only later did I learn, it was really the rest of us that had to have the last word, and maybe we could have given her her chance—her chance to be right, to argue her point of view to the end with attention from me/ us for the whole of it.
She received some terrible blows, because she could not achieve book knowledge at the same pace, to the same degree, as the rest of us, in the areas we think are important.
I’ve come to learn that my sister aced giving of her self to those we don’t even give the time of day. Thinking to feed the cats of a person with a physical disability, follow to the letter the intricacies to keep bacteria out of the ice machine so people won’t get sick—even when it made her get behind on other duties, smiling, talking with anyone about subjects we would have turned away out of boredom—because someone else thought it was important.
When I realized the gift God gave my family and me in my sister, I know I would not have learned my manners, respect for others, and respect for life without her. I would not have seen the capacity of love God has for us without a glimpse of a life lived with a greater love than mine. A love that reaches where I am often afraid to reach.
We cannot live as a society that gives an easy end to a life that is classed as below average without loosing examples of a life lived better. We would loose value ourselves when we find our own faults and wonder if we are worth someone else’s love.
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