Today is a special day! It is World Down Syndrome Day 2013 and today I celebrate my brother in law, Carlton! Carlton is such a joy to our family and over the past several years, especially, I have shared on my blog many things about how Carlton has enriched our lives. We had the privilege to live with him for about 7 months and it was an adventure beyond my wildest dreams at times but one that I would never trade in the world. One of my favorite things was waking up to his morning notes.
Way back in July 2011 I used the National Down Syndrome Society as my Comments for a Cause for the month and got so many great comments and connections with folks who also had loved ones with Down Syndrome. It was amazing! It spurred me on to write a little post for their My Great Story section and below is what I came up with—it bears reposting!
What do you expect when you get married? You hope to become part of a loving and giving family who accepts you and welcomes you into the family. What did I get when I married my husband? So much more! My brother in law, Carlton, has Down Syndrome. When I first met Carlton he was only 9 years old. A lot of time has passed since then and as each year has passed I have gotten to experience what an incredibly great guy he is.
Carlton was born in the late 1960’s and it was a time when people born with Down Syndrome were not always understood. Carlton’s parents were very courageous. It might have been easier to place their baby in an institution, but they chose to allow Carlton to be the person that he was meant to be—to grow and thrive in a loving and caring environment. He was and continues to be a part of a family—a very important part.
Carlton has proven to us time and time again that he is, indeed, a unique and special individual. Years of great care and teaching through Marimor Schools allowed Carlton all of the best opportunities and he grew to love swimming, singing and of course, dancing. As the years passed he was employed by Walmart and later Sam’s Club where he continues to work today. It is the highlight of his week when it is time to go to work. He stocks shelves and is sometimes in charge of boxes—determining which ones are good for customers to use and which ones need to get recycled. It is serious work and Carlton rises to the occasion.
One of the things that I have noticed is that when I visit Carlton at work he is happy. Happier than most other people who work!!! His co-workers love him and are his number one fans. I don’t think everyone can say that about their coworkers.
Carlton’s life has been a blessing. Not only to me as his sister in law but to so many others with whom he comes in contact . One of the best moments I can remember about Carlton was the first time I met him. It was on Mother’s Day and my first time to meet the family. I had not been dating his brother for too long so imagine my surprise when I ended up going to a house filled with relatives!!! As we were driving to dinner Carlton proceeded to “marry” my husband and I in the back seat of the car—complete with “You may now kiss the bride.” I think he must have had some secret knowledge back then, as we have now been married 29 years.
What would my life be like without Carlton? I cannot even begin to imagine. What a blessing he has been and continues to be to the entire family as he loves and challenges each of us to become all that we can be.
If you search the archives of my blog you will see a lot of posts that feature Carlton. There are too many to count and too many to link up here but trust me—he has made an impact on my life. How could he not? He, like everyone else who is part of the family of Down Syndrome, has a lot to give and a lot to offer the world. It is up to each of us to try to go the extra mile and educate others about how precious these individuals are. I love the campaigns that are out there now that raise awareness and promote fair treatment of folks with differences. It is what we all need to be doing every single minute.
So today I salute those at NDSS that are making a difference and my hat is off to my “gorgeous” brother in law, Carlton, who always makes me smile.
Carlton and I doing a little painting at Market 124
Posing for a picture after dinner in August 2012
Carlton absolutely loved his new birthday watch—it was OHIO State, after all!
Below: Creating a masterpiece last summer when he stayed with us a couple of weeks.