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I had a wonderful childhood. I knew it at the time and I appreciated it every second of every day. The greatest gift I received from having older parents is my ability to appreciate my life and the people I have in my life. My heart beats with appreciation and it is my strength when all else fails. I was a young girl extremely well loved but scared I might lose my parents. I learned to be brave young and to rely on knowing my parents loved me very much and with love I would make it through anything. I grew up thanking my parents for being so wonderful. I told my Mommy every day, if not five times a day, how much I loved her. I got home from my school day and sat on my Mommy’s lap and said to her,
“I love YOU more than you love me!!”
“Oh no, no, no; I love YOU more than you love me!” She’d reply.
This little play with words got our bellies rolling with laughter; a little battle of love.
I was a very sweet child. I attribute my sweetness to my parent’s show of love for me. They were older and felt very lucky to have me in their lives.
“Little one, come here.”
Daddy patted his leg. I ran over and climbed up high and gave him a big hug.
“You give your Mommy and me so much happiness. Do you know how much we love you?”
“Yes!” I would say with a big smile.
“Good. It’s very special and rare that Mommy and Daddy have you because we’re older. I want you to always remember how much Mommy and Daddy love you, OK?”
“Ok Daddy. I love you!”
In the 1960’s it was frowned upon for older parents to have children. My Mama’s friends felt so sorry for her when they saw her pregnant at 44 years old,
“One Sunday I walked into church and the ladies were looking over at me. I thought they were admiring my hat I had made, but they were staring at my belly! The ladies couldn’t believe I was pregnant.
‘Aren’t you scared?’
‘Aren’t you worried about the baby?’
I told them, ‘God has a plan for us and I’m sure everything will be fine’.”
Yes, of course my parents were concerned. It was common knowledge of the day that older parents were at a high risk of giving birth to a child with Down Syndrome; 1 in every 19. But my parents were not worried. They prayed I would be healthy, my Mama felt good and they knew whatever baby God gave them, they would love the baby no matter.
Later my Papa would joke with me and say,
“You don’t know this little one, but you’re actually a mongoloid child. You have old genes. That’s why your eyes look like they do. Haven’t you ever noticed?”
This little joke sounds terrible now; first, for calling a Down Syndrome child a mongoloid and, secondly, for joking about such a serious matter. But when a concern is stressful, making a joke of it relieves that stress.
Despite the risks, my parents were very excited to be having another child.
“Your Daddy’s chest popped out two feet with pride. He thought it was the best thing on earth Mommy could be pregnant again!”
It was always apparent my parents felt extremely blessed I was healthy. And those feelings were transferred to me. The chances of me being born at all were quite slim and you could say I was something of a miracle. I believe most 40 year old parents believe their pregnancy is a miracle, a true blessing. I felt I had been given a chance at life and it was very important for me to appreciate that chance, that gift.
Appreciation is the strongest feeling in my heart. I appreciate the love I receive from my family. I appreciate the opportunity to love people back and to do things for them. I appreciate being needed by my family and being able to take care of them. I appreciate the beauty of this world and the people who live on this planet. I appreciate life because I was given life. This gift of appreciation in my heart is my parent’s doing. Thank you, Mama and Papa; I appreciate you!
I appreciate everything you gave up in your older age in order to raise me. While your friends were traveling Mama, you were playing room mother in my classroom and putting on the Thanksgiving party for 30 fifth graders. While your friends were retiring Papa, you were working long hours at your office so you could spend time with us at the lake in the summer. I know you felt lucky to have me, but it must have been hard. It must have been hard, Papa, to look into your future, as you did so often, and think about how you were going to take care of me well into your 60’s. People didn’t live as long in your parents’ generation and you really didn’t feel confident you would make it past your 50’s. You had fought in WWII and the Korean War and you were exposed to chemicals and toxins. I kept you young and on your toes because at the age of 45 you had to figure out how to put a child through college in your 60’s. Instead of retiring you figured out how to make a new career in the stock market to have enough money for you, Mama and me. You provided for your family so well and you will always be my inspiration Papa. I miss you and love you so much. Thank you for everything you did for me.
It must have been tiring for you too, Mama, to wake up at all hours of the night with a newborn baby. I am 42 years old and I feel my age. I can’t imagine what being pregnant feels like at 44. You always said I kept you young. Well, Mama, you are 87 years old and still playing tennis, so I guess you were right. All the running around after me and trying to keep up with a child made you strong and made you feel young. I used to think I wanted to have children when I was 45 years old because I saw how young you acted. Your friends seemed to be slowing down, but not you or Papa. You have always been active and I admire how you have a pep-in-your-step. I love you, Mama, so very much! Thank you for everything you did for me.