“Ladies and gentleman welcome to Holland!!” the flight attendant informed the passengers. “Holland!! I paid for Italy.” They had boarded the plane that was slated to land in Italy but instead landed in Holland. A tourist in this misled position had spent their life reading books about Italy, learning Italian, and planning their dream trip. However, they now found themselves in Holland, and realized they didn’t know much about Holland or the language. They’re disappointed about the things they are missing in Italy; they think about the gondolas of Venice, the Coliseum, and Michelangelo’s David. Eventually they remember they are in Holland, and if they ‘waste’ their time thinking about all that they are missing in Italy they will never see the wonderful attributes of Holland. Holland might not be as glamorous or as popular, but it has its own beauty and its historical landmarks. The tourist begins to see the windmills, waterways, and tulips of Holland.
Having a family member with a disability is much like the tourist who has planned all their life to go to Italy. The family expected the ‘usual’ life journey, but then found themselves taking a completely different path. Throughout our lives, we plan for tomorrow and the many years to come, but life seldom goes as planned. From my perspective, I believe Holland can be just as rewarding as Italy.
My brother was born three and a half years after I and he brought this fact home for my family. He has Down syndrome something that we as a family had never expected or imagined. He brought challenges and difficulties that my parents had not encountered during my infancy and toddler-hood. After Isaac’s birth, he spent close to a month in the hospital before coming home. Then he had his first heart surgery two months later. These were only a couple of the obstacles that my family first overcame.
My family was sad even maybe a little angry. My parents especially had spent nine months preparing for another baby, only to find out that this baby wasn’t quite ‘perfect.’ My family can now see the good things about having a child with Down syndrome. My brother may not be the fastest runner nor the most eloquent speaker, but we can see good things in him. Isaac is a wonderful joy and he has taught us lessons and taken us on a journey that we would not have experienced if it hadn’t been for our ‘unexpected trip to Holland’. Like the tourist, there still are days when we wish we could have gone to Italy. There are however, more days that we are glad we had the many experiences we’ve had in Holland.
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