Mark is now 24 years old. These are the stories I would share with my Down syndrome support group, family, and friends as we journeyed on our adventure to raise Mark. Some are funny and some are bittersweet, but all are the fiber of our family history.
When people meet Mark they compliment us about what a wonderful young man he is, and add, “He must be VERY high functioning!” Every time they said this, I give a little gasp of appreciation, but say to myself,” Good God, he did not start out that way!” Through the years friends and family have encouraged me to write Mark’s adventures down. So I did. I was suddenly relieved from my teaching career in 2004, due to a brain aneurysm. So, with time on my hands, I wrote the stories down in 2006,while I was recovering and trying to reinvent myself. This blog set up was my Mother’s Day present from our oldest son, Ryan. Ryan is the director of DownStream Fishing, a non profit that provides a fishing experience for children with Down syndrome. Anyway, Ryan set it up for me and got me going. I started posting stories randomly, but have received some support from readers to stick with a loose chronology.
So it begins with “Mark was Born” and we are now posting stories from preschool years. Yes, raising Mark was difficult at times, but with the advantage of looking back, I know that God did not give us Mark to raise because he knew we could do it. Heaven can be a bore sometimes, and we were the earthly drama/comedy channel entertainment for all heavenly beings …and those on earth too. Go ahead and laugh!
SPARKY is Mark’s nick name. Mark is now living in a group home across town, attended regular classes at his neighborhood schools with an individual aide. He left a wake of chaos, love, laughter, and bewilderment in whatever he did! He attended every single school function, field trip, school dance, including one Junior Prom and two Senior Balls . He graduated from high school without passing any math classes, attended a wonderful after high school program called NuStep for job/ community training skills. He has worked both in his community, and in the sheltered workshop (PRIDE). If you are raising a special needs child and feel alone out there,-stay tuned. Talk to me and I will try to coach a little bit. It is all about LOVE! ( oops, that is such poop!) It is all about blood, sweat, and tears. Nahhhh, its all of it!
Sincerely, Carmella Miller