Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Circle Unbroken - A Special Olympics Post





When I saw this on Facebook today, I thought immediately of Special Olympics.

Sad to say, but few of us in this world understand this message. But happy to say, Special Olympians do.

There's a group of special needs students from Knoxville at Ober Gatlinburg right this very minute. They may not be sitting in a circle with their feet together, but their arms are around their buddies.
Special Olympians understand the concept of the circle..."what's good for the group." They know that in order to cross the finish line, their buddies have to cross it too. They know that in order for a circle to encompass a spirit, it must be unbroken.

I've seen it. Even wrote about it on this very blog. Here's the original blog, written nearly two years ago. I'm rerunning this post not because I'm too lazy to write a new one, but simply because even though it refers to an outdoor sport, if I wrote it again for the winter games, the message would be the same.

Here it is...

The last time I saw Charley compete in Special Olympics, he was standing in the middle of a circle. Right in the middle of a volleyball court, crying. Not because he didn’t win. Everyone’s a winner at the Special Olympics. It’s about standing shoulder to shoulder with your fellow teammates, and mostly, having fun.

He was excited that day, putting on his official Special Olympics T-shirt, and he would have had a good time too, if I hadn’t fouled things up.

I can’t always go to his Special Olympics events, but that morning he put his arm around me and said, “Mom, you comin’?”

I started to blurt, “I can’t. I have to work.” Seems I'm always working on the important days. But the fact is, I didn’t have to work that day, so, Brad and I were there to cheer him on.

As we entered the gym he came running up to us. “Guys, dis my Daddy, dis my Mom,” he grinned and pointed us out to anyone who would listen. I don’t know who was prouder, him or us.
Brad and I made our way to the bleachers and sat down, when moments later Yvette (Charley's teacher) suggested we move.
“You can’t sit here,” she said, “Families sit in the upper level out of harm’s way.”

Even Brad pleaded with me to move to a safer seat, “Let’s move to the no kill zone,” he said.

But I had picked my spot and my fat little rear end wasn’t about to budge. “I can see better here,” I insisted, when, five, four, three, two, one. BLAM. A volleyball right in the kisser. After that, the only thing I saw was stars.

My face was bleeding, my nose was smashed, and my lip was cut. I tried not to cry as Brad escorted me to the hallway and helped me find the ladies room where I wiped my face with a wet paper towel and collected myself. 

 I considered leaving and going home. I couldn't see the game anyway; my glasses were a twisted mess. Besides, I didn't want to embarrass Charley any more than I already had. But Charley wouldn't understand if he looked up and we weren't there, so we went back to the gym.

As I opened the door I expected to see a volleyball game in progress. Instead, I saw a circle. There, in the middle of the floor, beside the volleyball net, was my son, surrounded by a circle. A circle that included not only his team, but the opponents as well. He was crying, and his buddies had turned their attention from their own moment of glory to make sure Charley was okay.

"It's okay, Charley," I heard one of them say.

"Your Mom be alright," Another said.

I walked over to him and he threw his arms around me and cried some more. I assured him that I was okay, his teammates (and yes, the opponents) slapped him high-fives, the excitement returned, and the game resumed.

I learned several things that day. First, if you are going to bend the rules, you might end up being the one who’s bent. Even Moms are supposed to respect boundaries. Including me.

Second, there’s a reason they call it Special Olympics. It’s called sportsmanship and there’s so much more to it than beating the other guy. It’s all about the dream and the team. The dream to be a winner, and the team that loves the sport, but more importantly, the team that loves each other.

Above all, it’s about helping a teammate find his smile so he can get back in the game. Because when you help someone else win, you win too.

And third. Isn’t it ironic? Those who are often considered the least of us because of their special needs are often the ones who teach us the most.

Somewhere in Ober Gatlinburg there's a group of athletes racing toward the finish line. Whooping and hollering and cheering each other on. Slapping high-fives when they win, and more importantly, when they don't.


I borrowed this image from Pinterest 

Special Olympics gets it right.

In a world where reality TV encourages and captures a 
"me-ism" mentality, isn't it nice to know there's a group at Ober practicing "we-ism?"

Will the circle be unbroken? It will if our Special Olympians have anything to say about it.


******                                     *****                                       *****

Sherry McCaulley Palmer is the author of Life With Charley: A Memoir of Down Syndrome Adoption.

Available on Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Life-With-Charley-Sherry-Palmer/dp/1937365700/ref=tmm_pap_title_0


Follow Sherry's board Life with Charley and Down syndrome on Pinterest.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Countdown to Gatlinburg...Hat's Out of the Bag!

Packing...

Jeans, "wonderwear," socks, the cat.


The CAT?

How do you pack a cat?

The answer is, you don't have to. They pack themselves. Just unzip the suitcase, and in they go.

Until, they are ousted. And ousted, it was.

More packing. Long johns, toothbrush, toothpaste, jeans for the dance. And, of course, the essentials - CD player, music CDs, batteries. You know, the stuff that matters.

Last night I posted on Facebook, a picture of him in his newly knitted hat. I never could have imagined the support I would have received from my knitting friends at Knitting 3, and on Charley's page. Post after post, the comments poured in. They were mostly about Charley, cheering him on, wishing him luck in the Olympics. What a great bunch of friends! 







Charley will be leaving today at 1:30 and heading to Ober Gatlinburg where he will compete in speed skating (and most likely, flash dating).


But first, there's this thing about the hat. The weird, pointed, alfalfa hat.

 I've been knitting this hat for a year. Bottom line is, I hate knitting hats. I knit other things such as fingerless gloves, cowls, shawls, ponchos, socks, and scarves. But hats? Well, let's just say for me to even consider knitting a hat is a major labor of love.

Not sure what propelled me to finish it. Maybe I took leave of my senses and all of a sudden thought I could actually do it. Maybe I fashioned I wouldn't get caught by the fashion police.


Or, maybe it was something deeper than that. Maybe I wanted him to take a little piece of me with him to the slopes in Gatlinburg. Or at the very least, when he reaches up to pull his hat down and it slips off his head, maybe I want him to know his Mom is rooting for him.

Maybe the thought that I slovenly allowed last year's Special Olympics to come and go while the half-knitted hat hibernated in the knitting bag. The very thought that I sent him off on his trip without a special gift from me. Bad Mom!

But in my defense, I was recovering from that accident. A convenient excuse if there ever was one. Thing is, there wasn't a thing wrong with my fingers...last I heard, my fingers weren't in a body cast.

Truth is, I just couldn't seem to get it done. Last year I saw the date approaching and well, just couldn't seem to make it across the finish line.

Where were my priorities? I'll tell you where they were, they were with my successes.

The things I'd knitted that actually worked. That grey wrap. The one that makes me think I actually look like that model in the picture wearing it. Yeah, that's the one. Or, the peacock-colored poncho (the one made with the  yarn my sister mailed to me to cheer me up after my accident). Or,
the fingerless mittens made out of that alpaca. The scarf with those handmade clay beads.

Those...those were the compliment magnets. Those things us knitters consider music to our ears...

I love your scarf!

Did you make those beads?

That wrap is so elegant!

How long did it take you to make that?


 Yep, it's all about the successes. Those things that make us look good. Or, at least those things that make us THINK we look good. It's all about the bragging rights.

So as I sat down last week and began furiously knitting my fingers off on Charley's red hat (yet again), it occurred to me...I couldn't knit a hat if my life depended on it. And why? Because I hate patterns. Just give me two sticks and a string and let me knit. If it ends up being something then let the bragging begin. If not, I can always cram it back into the bag where it lives. At least, until the next attempt.

Something else occurred to me though. I was knitting this for the one person who never gives up. The bravest person I know.

As I thought about that my fingers knitted faster. I stopped for coffee. Bathroom break. lunch. But that's it. I would finish that hat. I wouldn't give up. He would have that red hat. Or, else.


At one point he came out of his room and walked over to me. "Mom, what doin'?"

"Hat's out of the bag!" I announced. "See?" I held it up. It looked like a red thing. Not a hat, but a thing.

I guess he could see it was important to me. "Oh. Nice!" he said, and started to walk away.

"Want to try it on?"

His face said, "Not exactly." But his hand reached for the hat.

Down over his eyes, it traveled, swallowing his face.

"I'll get it done before Special Olympics, I promise."

He took the hat off and smiled at me, like, It doesn't fit, but whatever you say, Mom.

"It's my special present to you, Charley."



Thing is, was it a present for him? Or was I working on bragging rights? I've never successfully knitted a hat. Not one time. Would this be that time? Would I cross that finish line with an actual hat?

The motto of the Special Olympics is, Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.

When I thought of all those special Olympians who cross the finish line with a smile on their faces whether they win or not, I couldn't help but keep on knitting. And smiling.

How many of us smile when we don't win? When our plans don't quite work out the way we planned? When the bragging rights deflate like a party balloon that's lost it's happy gas. When the knitted hats don't work?

Oh how much the rest of us dweebs can learn from them! Oh what they teach us about being brave. About crossing that finish line with our heads held high.

...about being brave in the attempt.

Thank you Special Olympians everywhere. Thank you, thank you, Charley.

Thank you for wearing my failure on top of your head and wearing it proudly with that contagious grin. Thank you for making me more important in your eyes than the perfection of a hat. Someone on the Facebook Knitting 3 site said it looked like a Hershey's Kiss. I'll take it.

You, Charley Palmer, deserve all the kisses you can get. You, Charley, keep me in stitches every day.

So go. Board the bus in that silly red hat. Have the time of your life. Whoop and holler, and slap those high-fives. Be proud, Olympian.

And when you cross that finish line, keep on going.

Remind us what it means to be brave in the attempt. What it really means to be a winner.

And about those bragging rights? They are on the lips of your mother. And believe me, they have nothing to do with the hat.




 
 
Sherry McCaulley Palmer is the author of: Life With Charley: A Memoir of Down Syndrome Adoption, available at http://www.amazon.com/Life-With-Charley-Syndrome-Adoption-ebook/dp/B00O29FJB0
 
 

 
 
 
 






Friday, January 23, 2015

Milestones and Smilestones



Saw this post on Facebook by Catherine Krebs Rice today, regarding her darling daughter Charlotte, and couldn’t resist asking her permission to repost on “Life with Charley.” She was gracious enough to say yes!

Catherine’s posts always catch my eye. How could they not? Just look at Charlotte! But this particular post reached right out and grabbed me.

She says it just right when she talks about milestones. When it comes to seeing what matters, sometimes our children (yes, I’m talking about Charley too) are miles ahead of us. I've always said that Charley not only reached milestones, he reached smilestones. Smilestones are those moments when our kids with DS manage to let us see that part of us we didn't know existed until they came along. Charley knows just how to give those smiles.
From the looks of it, Charlotte does too...

Little Charlotte is the granddaughter of one of my lifelong friends, Linda Smith Allen!
Isn't she a doll?!

Here’s the post:

Hello Spiders!
As many of you already know, often kids with Down Syndrome may struggle with making milestones. Even though Charlotte is behind in eating, crawling, walking, talking etc.....I try to see that Charlotte's strengths aren't measured in milestones. Her strengths are looking into other people's eyes and seeing there souls. It's a powerful thing that she does. It reaches beyond any words or actions.

She definitely has reached a milestone! A milestone that many people don't often reach until they are perhaps near death. This is HUGE! And it is significant.
So....all that said.....we keep trying to help Charlotte make those typical milestones. We won't ever give up on those. But meanwhile....we learn from HER!!

Have a great day and weekend!
_________________


Thanks Catherine, for sharing Charlotte with us! She is truly a gift to us all.
_________________
Sherry Palmer is the Author of Life With Charley: A Memoir of Down Syndrome Adoption, available at http://www.amazon.com/Life-Charley-Sherry-Palmer/dp/1937365700/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1422070127&sr=8-1&keywords=life+with+charley
 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Happy birthday, Martoofer




I never know if Charley completely understands everything we talk about, but we talk about it just the same. I tend to think he's more savvy than I give him credit for. 

I had this conversation with Charley that was eerily like the one we had last year at this time, only with a few differences. The basic premise is the same. It went like this…

“Member Mom, Marking Day a-mowwow.”

“Marking Day?”

“Yeah. Thomas Center closed. Woohoo!” He punches the air with his fist.

Oh. I get it. He’s telling me that the Sertoma Center is closed tomorrow because it's Martin Luther King Day.

“You know, Son, there's much more to Martin Luther King Day than getting the day off.”

He studied me for a moment. “Yeah,” he said. “Martoofer birdday.”

“That’s right, it’s Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday.”

“Yeah.”

“Do you know who Martin Luther King was?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, who was he?”

“Martoofer.”

“Do you know why we celebrate his birthday?”

“Yeah.”

I waited, thinking he’d offer the reason, but he was busy playing with the buttons on the car heater. Turning them up, turning them down. Burning us up, freezing us out.


“Well, why is his birthday so important?”

“No Thomas Center!”

“So that’s it? Sertoma Center is closed? Is that all?”

“Yeah.”

He then started playing with the radio station buttons. Country. “I Love You this Big.” Pop. “Baby, Baby, Don’t Get Hooked on Me.” Oldies. “Come On People Now, Smile on your Brother, Everybody Get Together, Try and Love one Another Right Now.”

“Hey, Charley, that’s the first song I ever learned to play on my guitar!” I said, “It’s a great song for Martin Luther King Day.”

“Oh, coolt.”

More button pushing.

“Hurry into xxxxxx store for the Martin Luther King sale. Everything is 50% off,” the announcer said.

“See?” Charley said, "Martoofer birthday."

“Okay son, we need to talk. First of all, they are having a sale to celebrate Martin Luther King’s birthday. That’s not what his birthday is all about.”


"Huh?"

More radio station surfing.

“Mom, I boat.”

“You what?”

"I BOAT. Geeze, Mom." He rubbed his face with the palm of his hand like he does when he's close to calling me an idiot.

"Say it again, son."

“I boat. You boat. In da boof."

"You mean vote?"

"Yeah."

“You get to vote for President?”

“Yeah, Pwesidence day.”

“That's right. We vote for President, but not for Martin Luther King.”

“Oh.”

“Martin Luther King wasn’t President; he was a civil rights leader.”


“Oh.”

“Do you know what civil rights means?”

“Stop it, Mom.”

“It means he fought for the rights of people like you, Charley.”

“Me?”

“Yes, you. And me, and Daddy.”

“Why?”

We didn't talk for a moment. Just listened to the next commercial, about some other MLK sale, and how we needed to hurry before everything was gone, because it only happens once a year. 

I was the one who broke the silence.

“Charley, do you know what Down Syndrome is?”

“Yes.”

“Do you know that you have Down Syndrome?”

“No I are not.”

“Yes you do.”


“Not me.”

“Charley, Down Syndrome is not a bad thing. It just means you are special.”

“Me?”

“Yes. It means God loved you enough to give you an extra chromosome. That means you have something most of us don’t have. It means that some people think of you as different.”

“Not me,” he said.

“It’s okay to be different, Son.”

“Yes I are.”

“Martin Luther King, Jr. wanted everyone to be treated the same.”

“Coolt!”

One of the things I like most about Charley is that it's never occurred to him not to be comfortable in his own skin.

“Yay! I like dat King guy.”

“He would have like you too, son.”

* * *

Sherry McCaulley Palmer is the author of “Life With Charley: A Memoir of Down Syndrome Adoption,” available on Amazon.com. 


Perhaps my friend Stephanie Holland says it best on her blog. Please visit “The Road We've Shared” at this link: http://roadwevesharedgzp.weebly.com/the-roadmap-blog/wwmlkd-civil-rights-and-down-syndrome

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Air Up There



Super excited that Charley gets to go do this again...


Special Olympics - Team Gibbs

I hate to say this, but Charley has been crying lately. To put it mildly, he’s been having withdrawal symptoms.


Not drugs. Not alcohol.

No, it’s something more toxic. It's in the air. It’s withdrawal from connections. Those connections that tell him he matters.

Everyone needs connections. It validates us to know we are accepted just as we are.

Charley is no different. But ahhh, where he gets that validation from, that’s the thing.

Each year right after Christmas, Charley comes to me in tears. He says, “I miss um my fwents.”

And I do that Mom-thing, of grabbing him around the neck, hugging and kissing him, and telling him I know he misses his friends, and that I’ll do my level best to see what I can do…

But to tell you the truth, what I’m really doing is holding my breath. Wondering, will there be a spot for him? Will he get to go do the one thing that makes him feel like he is his own person? That place where he can just be himself? The one thing that assures him he does indeed, have friends? Friends who haven’t forgotten about him?

If you have a special needs child you know what I mean. If not, then, here’s the deal…
Charley just wants to be a regular guy.
He wants a girlfriend. He wants to date. He wants to be viewed as a person who has hopes and dreams. Bottom line, he just wants to be himself. He wants to have friends.
That’s not always possible for Charley. Unless someone calls him or comes to pick him up and take him out, he waits. He doesn’t have the same options you and I have. He can’t just pick up the phone and call someone.
Sometimes I wonder what it must be like for him, always trying to fit into a world that would have him be different. Or, at the very least, would have him change just enough to fit in.
What if changing just enough to fit in means compromising who you really are?
I see it in my son every day.
He heads to a sheltered workshop where there are others like him. People who would have nowhere else to go if it weren't for the workshop. Several are older than he is. There is little opportunity for meeting girls. For making friends. The kind of friends that will go out running around with you without your mom having to drive you or lurk in the wings.
He enters a classroom that has activities he is expected to participate in, and little vision for what he wants to do or wants to be.
Do this, Charley.

Don’t do that, Charley.

Stop it, Charley.

Charley put on your jacket. Mrs. Palmer, Charley came in without his jacket today.

Charley ate his lunch on the way in the door today.

Come here, go there, Charley.
Do they know he is tech-savy? That he can fix things? Do they have any idea how brilliant his mind is?
Do they even have time to know? They are so busy with agenda.
That’s where Special Olympics comes in.
While most of us are tucked away in our warm houses in the winter, Charley is taking to the slopes in Gatlinburg. Strutting his stuff. Showing off for whatever girl he has his eye on. Making friends.
At Special Olympics, he’s not warehoused. There's a different air up there. He’s free to be who he is, the way he wants to be. Free to breathe.
Most of all, for a couple of days he has friends. People who see who he is, and who he can be. People who may tell him where to go and what to do, but it’s a different kind of telling. People who tell him to go for that next jump. “Go for it Charley!”
Go Charley Go!
It’s camaraderie. An acceptance of who he is, and when they say, “Just be yourself,” they mean it. And he knows it. They don’t mean, “Be yourself as long as it is within the parameters of what we think you should be.”
That’s why each year we hold our breath. He comes home from Special Olympics a different person. Not as a person who has had to be what everyone else wants him to be, but what he wants to be.
A regular guy.
And why not? He’s been to a place where it’s okay to dance. To flirt. To laugh out loud. To compete, and to slap a high-five with your teammates. To know you are part of a team that wants you just the way you are. A team that tells you the team is more fun when you are there.

To say we hold our breath doesn’t even begin to describe it. Each year Brad and I look at each other and pray, “Please God, let there be a next time.”
It’s as important to Charley as breathing.
It fills him up.
It puts that twinkle in his eye. That pep in his step.

For a few years now, Charley has been included on the Gibbs Special Olympics team. Even though he graduated in 2013, they have managed to find a spot for him. They probably don’t know this, but it’s as important to him as breathing. That’s why we hold our breath.

Last week the call came. The one that said there was a spot for him. The one that made me cry into my napkin at lunch because when he cries about missing his “fwents” I’ll be able to say, “How's the air up there?” He knows what that means...it means he's headed to Ober Gatlinburg. Yeah baby!

In two weeks, we will take him to the parking lot where he will board the bus and head to Gatlinburg. The bus that will pull out of that parking lot and leave us in the rearview mirror as he settles into his seat for the time
 of his life.
When people find out he’s going to Special Olympics and will be gone for a couple of days, they often say, “That will give you a breather.”
And they are right. For a couple of days we breathe. Not because he’s gone, but because we know when he returns he will have breathed a different kind of air.

Up there.

                                                  * * *

Sherry McCaulley Palmer is the author of Life With Charley: A Memoir of Down Syndrome Adoption, available at: http://www.amazon.com/Life-Charley-Sherry-Palmer/dp/1937365700/ref=sr_1_1_twi_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1421600733&sr=8-1&keywords=Life+with+charley


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Countdown to Gatlinburg (a Special Olympics Post)


I wrote this last year after Charley left for Special Olympics. He's heading to Gatlinburg again this year, thanks to the support and outreach of Gina Legg and Gibbs High School. These folks who give of themselves to make sure Charley has the Special Olympics experience have no idea how much it means to him. I hope over the next couple of weeks to change that. 

So I begin this series of Special Olympics posts by looking back. It is with this in mind, that we look forward. 

Here goes... 


A Little Extra Oomph...

It’s Monday night, and I’m struggling with writing. All writers will tell you they sometimes stare at the blank page for what seems like forever, and that’s what I’m doing. Or, at least that’s what I was doing, until I received a text about ten minutes ago. 

     Charley’s an easy subject for the most part. With his shenanigans, his laugh, and what we call his bullheaded chromosome, he’s anything but blank. But when he’s gone my oomph goes with him.

     You see, Sunday he boarded a bus and headed to the winter games of the Special Olympics in Gatlinburg. But back to the text – oh how I needed it, because there, on my cell phone was a picture of him, standing on the ski slopes with his teacher, Miss Gerry.
      
     He’s temporarily ditched the grey muscle-man shirt he lives in and is sporting a red hooded sweatshirt like the rest of the team.
      
     He’s wearing brand new jeans that bend in all the right places when he unleashes his dance moves that make him look cool on the dance floor. He’s put on aftershave to give him some oomph, even though he didn’t shave before he left. But most of all, he’s wearing a grin and a twinkle in his eye.

     He’s staying in a hotel room and partying the night away. He’s probably meeting a girl but will most likely forget to get her phone number and will arrive home expecting that we will magically know how to call the girl he now refers to as his “Purty.”
      
     It’s all because of Special Olympics, created by Eunice Kennedy Shriver in her back yard in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s so that her sister Rosemary would have a place to play. I wonder if she knew that somewhere in Gatlinburg nearly 63 years later, a man with intellectual challenges would be having the time of his life because someone saw past disabilities into the core of abilities.

     Someone envisioned a better way of life for people like my Charley. Someone looked around, counted her blessings, and showered others with opportunities. Because of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, he is running, lacing up a pair of ice skates, and hanging onto the handlebars of the walker-like support device that steadies him so he won’t land on his backside. But so what if he does? He’ll think of himself as a winner because he had the courage to put one foot in front of the other, and try.
     
     Fascinating, how a traditional team practices until they are ready for the big game. Only a select few get to run out onto the field to the roar of a thundering crowd. Over and over, they practice their moves; fine tuning their technique that will make them legends in their arenas.

     Special Olympics practices too. They practice patience, support, respect, encouragement. Somewhere in Gatlinburg, there are teachers and coaches who have taken time out of their personal lives to make the Special Olympics a reality for someone else. While their own families are at home, these individuals provide hands-on assistance to the participants, so that life can have a little more meaning. No one makes them do this; they do it out of love for their students, so they can be included. So they can have their moment. Their thundering crowd. Their arena. A little extra oomph.

     If you know of a teacher or coach who has given so much of themselves for these special athletes, take a moment won’t you, to thank them on behalf of all Special Olympians everywhere.

Tell them Charley sent you.

                                                                          *  *  *
Sherry Palmer is the author of, "Life With Charley: A Memoir of Down Syndrome Adoption" available at: 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Preacher's Son Apprehended. A-rest to Follow

N


                                                       Busted!

Knoxville, TN. 

In the wee hours of Saturday, Precinct 8612 in Jefferson County received a frantic phone call reporting a break-in at the home of the Reverend Brad Palmer. 

Roving reporter Matilda Farnsworth was on the scene of the crime, where the Preacher's wife stated that just after 3:00 a.m. she heard the sound of her son's bedroom door opening, followed by a flash of light. Moments later she found the refrigerator door ajar, and that's when she knew there'd been a break-in.

In an exclusive interview, Mrs. Palmer said she noticed her 24-year old son moving in a suspicious manner through the hallway, then disappearing into his room. She asked if anything was wrong to which he replied, "I got dis..."

When questioned as to whether anything was missing, she stated "Only the milk."

According to Farnsworth, the Reverend's son has been known to raid the refrigerator at all hours of the night. "I'm not one to cry over spilt milk, but I just can't help it," she told Farnsworth. "When Charley says he's got dis, he means he's got milk," stated the Mrs., adding, "Not only has he made off with our milk, he killed our breakfast. The kid is a cereal murderer."

Numerous warnings were issued, including yelling, "Stop Thief!" However, attempts to keep her son out of the fridge in the middle of the night were unsuccessful.

Further details are unavailable at this time, but the Preacher's wife did disclose that future plans for imposing a kitchen curfew along with a refrigerator lockdown are underway, and that her husband slept through the entire occurrence. 

No charges were filed but the 8612 Precinct Insomnia Police have offered her an all expense paid trip to Sleepy Town. The Preacher's wife stated that she looks forward to an a-rest just as soon as she returns from the Loony Bin.

                                                              * * *


Sherry McCaulley Palmer is the author of Life With Charley: A Memoir of Down Syndrome Adoption, available at: 


The following is a review from Amazon:

Three Cheers for Charley! October 15, 2014
By Sandi Hutcheson (Author, Looks Great Naked)

"There are times when we just have to hold our breath and jump in," Sherry Palmer writes of the decision she and her husband, Brad, made in 1990 to adopt a baby with Down Syndrome. Life With Charley: A Memoir of Down Syndrome recounts their joyful journey, and it is a beautiful story. Palmer is a gifted storyteller whose honesty and candor and all-out love for her son will earn her readers' deepest respect. You'll laugh, you'll cringe, you'll wonder how she does it, and you'll hope for the pleasure of someday meeting Charley and his parents in person."

                                                                           *  *  *

To visit Sandi's Amazon page, please follow this link: http://www.amazon.com/Looks-Great-Naked-Sandi-Hutcheson-ebook/dp/B00AW4DDUS

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Pappy Knee Year



Staying home from work today. I hate that. I'm a strange duck. I like working. But since I'm grounded, it seems like a good day to write a blog. My knee (the good one) is giving me some problems. Went to the emergency room yesterday, with Charley in tow. On the way to the hospital we talk about how it's a new year, and how it's going to be better than last year.

We're all going to behave this year. We're going to eat right, we're going to get skinny, and...and...

We get to the hospital and Charley goes inside to bring me a wheelchair. While Brad parks the car, Charley wheels me to the registration desk where a pretty, sweet young lady sits. 

Registration lady: Have you been here before?

Me:  Yes. (Of course I have, I've practically lived here since my accident).

Charley: Um... Ma'am, dis my Mom.

She nods and smiles at him.

Registration lady: What seems to be the problem?

Me: My right knee hurts so bad. I can barely walk on it. I felt something pop the other day and it's been hurting ever since.

Charley: Ma'am, my Mom hurt. You helpin' her.

Registration lady: When did it start?

Me: Last Tuesday. I went to the quick care center in Kentucky while I was there for Christmas.

Charley: You awe Purty. He raises his eyebrows up and down like Groucho Marks. 

Registration lady: Thank you. (Another smile)

She places an identification band on my wrist, and directs us to the waiting area.

Charley waves goodbye and says, "Call me!"

Physician Assistant appears: What seems to be the problem?

Me: My right knee hurts so bad. I can barely walk on it. I felt something pop the other day and it's been hurting ever since.

Charley: Um Sir, dis my Mom.

Physician Assistant: When did it start?

Me: Last Tuesday. I went to the quick care center in Kentucky while I was there for Christmas.

Charley: Sir, my Mom hurt. You helpin' her.

Physician Assistant: I need to get some information from you. 

What existing health problems so you have?

What are your current medications and doses?

Are you allergic to any drugs?

Do you smoke?

No.

Drink Alcohol? 

No.

Partake of street drugs?

No.

Have a history of mental illness?

Not yet.

Charley: Um, Sir, My Mom knee hurt. 

Physician Assistant: Let's get you to the examination room so I can take a look.

About this time Brad shows up. He and Charley wait for me to come back.

Physician Assistant looks at my knee. Asks more questions. Leaves to write a prescription. Anti-inflammatory - that's about the best he can do for now. Tells me to make an appointment with the Doctor and wraps my knee with an ace bandage. Writes on the triage sheet that it was easy to determine the nature of the injury. Um...not from where I'm sitting. 

Nurse number 1 enters. 

What happened, Mrs. Palmer?

My right knee is hurting. I can barely walk on it. I felt something pop the other day and it's been hurting ever since.

She takes my blood pressure. Pulse. Listens to my breathing. 

What existing health problems so you have?

What are your current medications and doses?

Are you allergic to any drugs?

Do you smoke?

No.

Drink Alcohol? 

No.

Partake of street drugs?

No.

Have a history of mental illness?

Well, Not yet.

Hands me some prescriptions and follow-up orders. Tells me I can go.

Nurse number two appears with a wheelchair to escort me to back to the area where Charley 
Brad are waiting.

But first, takes my blood pressure. Listens to my heart. Takes my pulse.

Moments later, we're in the waiting area. There stands Charley with a cup of coffee he found in the lobby. "Here Mom, dis help in' you. Dis you fell butter."

He says to the nurse, "Call me!" Like, sure, that's gonna happen. 

Brad goes to get the car and arrives moments later. Charley turns to wave goodbye for a second time to the registration lady.

She gives him a little wave. Happy New Year! 

He waves back. Pappy knee year!

Charley: "Dwink you coffee, Mom."

I look into the cup. No Splenda. No cream. Just plain old black coffee. Not the way I like it. Not by a long shot. Still, I tip the cup and take a sip. I look into those concerned blue eyes of his, and wouldn't you know it? I've been to the hospital, been seen by a physician's assistant and two well-meaning nurses, and that cup of Joe is just what the Doctor ordered.

                                                        ***


Sherry McCaulley Palmer is the author of Life With Charley: A Memoir of Down Syndrome Adoption

















Thursday, December 18, 2014

God Things


For some reason, this post will not maintain a consistent font size throughout. That's okay though, as long as you have x-ray vision toward the end of the post. Though tiny, I mean it just as much as the rest of the post - maybe even more. God things come in good packages. Don't adjust your screen - that wasn't a typo. I meant to say God things. Chromosomes are God things.

Sometimes I look into the eyes of my precocious, funny, sweet-natured, son and wonder how the world got so lucky.  How did I get so lucky? God must have loved us all so much to have handed out those God things known as extra chromosomes. True, they aren't for everyone. Only a select few are to know the wonder. The forever innocence. The dance of Down syndrome. 

"But Sherry, you don't know the heartache of waiting 9 months for the perfect child only to have your hopes and dreams crushed by a An extra chromosome called Down Syndrome," you might say.

That's true. Those of you who know me already know my story, how Charley came to live with us. 
Just because I didn't wait for 9 months for the perfect baby doesn't mean I didn't want one. The thing is, in my opinion, I got one. 

When I read about that nut case in Denmark who thought it would benefit the world if those who have been blessed with an extra chromosome were eliminated from the human race, I wept. Then I went directly to Amazon and purchased Mardra Sikora's essay, "Arguing Eugenics." 

Want to know more about this heated issue? Mardra explains it in this well-written essay that is grounded in research and personal experience, Mardra Sikora's "Arguing Eugenics" extends beyond the subject of genetic testing (for the purpose creating a society free from the burden of Down syndrome) and into the heart of a world in danger of eliminating much more than an extra chromosome. As a writer and mother of a young adult with Down syndrome myself, I applaud Sikora's ability to lay out the facts while making the reader think with their hearts through the logic of her son Marcus.

"Arguing Eugenics"(You can find it on Amazon), takes a subject often written about in medical and technical terms, and fine tunes the lens to so those unfamiliar with Down syndrome can see clearly how whole communities would suffer the consequences of eliminating often the most compassionate among us. If I were to sum it up, I would wager to say that a world without Down syndrome is a world in danger of reducing itself to breathing in and out. While Sikora does not glamorize naïveté regarding special needs individuals, be it children with cancer or those who are born with spinal bifida, rather, she is a realist who sees the value in every human life, while charging the rest of us to do the same. What gives anyone the right to decide who has value and who does not? What gives anyone the right to decide that another human being is a burden? I agree with Sikora one-hundred percent, no one has the right to set that criteria. Not Denmark, not anyone.

I found Sikora's essay to be an invaluable piece of research delivered with wisdom. Mostly, however, I found it to be a fair synopsis of the lives faced everyday by special needs families. There is no perfect person. Aiming for a perfect world filled with only perfect people (which means a world without that extra chromosome) is no world I want to live in. I cannot imagine a world without the unconditional love of individuals with Down syndrome. Apparently, neither can Sikora.

There is a society, however that does not agree. If Denmark is knocking on that door, I say don't open it. Be very afraid. When one knocks others do too. Before we know it, Down syndrome will cease to exist, and so will life as we know it for our loved ones who are game changers.

The choice is ours. Want a perfect world? Step right up. Get your one-way ticket to Denmark. Personally, I'd rather count my God things. My chromosomes. Want a world of perfect unconditional love and acceptance? Then send in the Down. Rock on, Marcus. Be that agent of change that Sikora writes about. Be that God thing. And listen up folks, don't even think of sweeping this one under the rug. Sikora is in the house.


We adopted Charley twenty-four years ago at Christmas time. Believe me, there is nothing you could wrap and stick under the tree that could come close to the gift God game me that day. It was the perfect God-thing gift. Did we know what to expect? What to do? How do do it? No. 


But here's one thing I do know. When I count my blessings, I count God-things. That includes chromosomes.


Merry Christmas to me.


                                             



Sherry Palmer is the author of "Life With Charley: A Memoir of Down Syndrome Adoption" (available at Amazon)