Mirror mirror on the wall
Am I the oldest of you all?
No one ever thought I would make it this far in life; let alone get to 75 years of age.
My parents were married in 1935 & I’m the 2nd oldest in a family of 5. Having a disability like Down syndrome in 1946 was a taboo subject and my family was referred to as ‘having a quare one’ by people outside the family & those who didn’t understand me.
My father died when I was 30 years old & my mother dedicated her life to making sure I was safe and minded from anyone who could hurt me. Although I was short for my age I was quite mobile and enjoyed walking in the garden and my favourite hobby was going through boxes of old greeting cards and ‘sorting’ them out. My nieces and nephews were all growing up around me. Once they passed the baby stage (I don’t like crying babies) I loved hanging out with them; we had great fun together. I especially liked when they played Lego with me and made me laugh by tickling me.
I love food but I wasn’t great for brushing my teeth so in my mid 40’s I had all my teeth taken out. This was a really scary time for me and not all the nurses really understood how scared I was but my family were right there beside me and this made it a little less scary.
My mum & I moved in with my sister and her family in the late 90’s when my mum was getting a bit older and needed a bit of help. She made everyone promise to mind me and it was here that I had a sneaky glass of brandy or much more when I could get away with it. My mum always saw me as the child, she was always minding me but I loved the craic when I was allowed brandy and my brothers sometimes cursed around me and I learnt these words really quickly and when I swore I got a great reaction from everyone & then everyone would laugh. I really love to laugh 😆
I was 55 years old when my mum died in 2001. I was so sad when she died and I gave her a final ‘birdie’ (kiss) goodbye before they closed the coffin. I don’t think I fully understood what was happening; my routine continued as normal after the funeral so very little changed at home.
About a year later I started visiting a place where I met other people like me. Everyone was so friendly. I started going for an hour a day and over the next year I started building up to going for a full day, then two days until I went everyday. I experienced so many new things like going on a bus, going to the pub – that’s my favourite 😉 going shopping, going to mass, day trips and all the activities that the lovely staff did with me, all while listening to Christmas songs, I think I drove them all cracked with Christmas songs especially during the summer time 😆. I love a good sing song. Apart from Christmas songs I love country music like Spancil Hill, Danny Boy and my favourite My Lovely Rose of Clare. I’m a huge Daniel O’Donnell fan!
I actually got into a swimming pool for the first time ever in my late 50’s and boy did I shout at everyone when they put me in a hoist and lowered me into the water. Only for my family being in the pool and calming me down I think I might have given up. Now I float around the pool and if I’m very tired I’ll even have a snooze in the hydro pool.
When Covid hit, I got a great chance to go to my respite house (which I love) for a few weeks. I found the lockdown a bit hard as I wasn’t allowed see anyone and I missed hugs. I really love a good hug and it was strange not having any. I now have loads of grandnieces and grandnephews and they draw great pictures and send me letters and cards and presents. My family love me so much and I still make them all laugh so much. All I have to do is curse and swear at them and they get so giddy. I’m still in the (respite) house and my family all come to see me and I go for days out to see my sister & brothers and their families and I still get to go to parties. My birthday is coming up in the next couple of months. I think they are planning another big party for my 76th. I wonder will there be cake and brandy 😉
(Potentially the oldest person with Down syndrome in Ireland)
PS. I would love to know for sure if I am the oldest person with Down syndrome in Ireland. I’d appreciate your help finding out! It would surely mean some sort of a celebration for me. I’d say they’d even give me an award or something – a bottle of brandy would do! 😉