Monday, October 5, 2009

Of Tanyatoo and Michael J. Fox

October is, as well as many other great things, National Down Syndrome Awareness month. For more than one reason I have a special place in my heart for anyone with Down Syndrome; I am drawn by them.

The biggest reason is that I have a beautiful cousin, who is a few years older than I am, who has Down Syndrome. I wish I had a picture I could upload to here of her so you all could see just how beautiful she is.

She is very excited to be able to celebrate her 40th birthday soon and wants to have a GREAT, BIG party! I hope she does have that party; I will certainly be there! I LOVE that girl!

We lived on a farm growing up, in fact it was my grandparents' homestead; we lived in a trailer a 20 second jog from my grandparents' - it was great! So when aunts, uncles and cousins came to visit Grandma & Grandpa, we got to see them too and what fun we had. (It was through my one cousin I developed a love for music but I digress)

We would play with Betty around the farm but we were restricted to where we could go with her so as not to put her at risk and I became the protector. It seemed to carry over into my adult life as I am very protective of people being rude,judgemental or demeaning to anyone with Down Syndrome (or any other handicap really - this is just more personal for me).

Can I share some of my favorite stories of Betty with you? Good.

My sister is the middle child and well, I found her to be annoying growing up; she was always a tag-along and always a tattle-tale. My mom was always yelling at us from the house or the barn to "play with Tanya too!". Betty swore my sister's name was Tanyatoo and called her that each time she talked to her without fail; I am certain that if Betty were to see my sister today she would call her Tanyatoo.

Betty loved Michael J. Fox; her absolute favorite show was Family Ties; heaven forbid you ever want to speak to her during the show, and she would only talk to tell you how much she loved Michael and that she was going to marry him. I never heard her ever refer to him simply as Michael J. Fox; he was always "My Michael J. Fox". Always.

So National Down Syndrome Awareness month is upon us. Has Down Syndrome touched your life? Why not do what you can to touch the heart of someone who has Down Syndrome or is a family member of? I know my aunt has spent her life and life's energy caring for Betty; she (my aunt) is now in her 70's and is still caring for Betty's daily needs.

While you are at it, although its "awareness month" is not until April, consider what you can do for people like Betty's Michael J. Fox who are valiantly fighting a war called Parkinson's Disease.

Thank you for allowing me to share about my wonderful cousin and to bring awareness to the "condition" she has but that doesn't have her. Please remember, when you are talking to people who have Down Syndrome (or other similar sydromes), talk to them the way you would talk to any other person. Don't speak down to them or be condecending to them. They deserve the same respect as you or I.

*stepping off soapbox*


  1. Aw, what a great post. Your cousin sounds like an amazing, fun person. Thanks for sharing about Down Syndrome Awareness Month - I didn't know it was October.

  2. What a wonderful post. I love the family and fond memories and love you have for this cousin, especially by tying it in to reminding everyone how important awareness and compassion for this condition is! Thanks :)