In early December of 1999, my brother Danny phoned. With enthusiasm in his voice he asked, "Do you want to throw a 40th birthday party for Kay?" "Yes, great idea!" As I chatted with Danny, many fond memories of Kay flashed through my head. The oldest of five, Kay, has a dear place in all of our hearts. She was born with Down syndrome, and we lovingly call her, "Special Kay." As I talked to my brother Danny about a birthday celebration, he said, "I'll call Donna and Ginny and get the ball rolling." Danny is a member of the Knights of Columbus in North Wildwood, NJ and could rent their hall. In January 2000, we had a wonderful party for Kay. Seventy of her closest friends and relatives came to celebrate. We ate, sang, danced and shared Kay stories. She was honored that same year, asked by the Mayor of Wildwood, to be the Grand Marshal in the American Legion Parade. A framed picture of Kay, from the parade, was on the table filled with presents. At the party, we reminisced about our summer days. Our family grew up by the beach. Kay loved sitting for hours building sand castles, digging deep holes and then filling them with buckets of water from the ocean. Kay also, enjoys the ocean, simply jumping over and under the waves amuses her. During Kay's party different family members went on and on sharing their stories. After the fond tales, we broke out the embarrassing situations that weren't so funny at the time. During errands when she was tired of being out, like in the grocery store, she would stop and pull up her socks which bugged Mom big time. Sometimes (but don't tell anyone) we'd encourage her, because we all wanted to go home. Kay grew out of some of those behaviors, just like we all grew out of some of our own less favorable ways. After Kay's 40th birthday celebration, I was filled with joyful emotions over the next week. The night of her party defined what I've always felt: the love, the goodness, and the inexpressible impact Kay has had on my life. She continues to play a major part in the closeness of our family. By my parents own loving actions in raising Kay they instilled in all of us how not to live with blame, self-pity or unfairness in life. My parents taught us to be thankful for some intangible gifts, like being patient, because of Kay's life. I hope to pass my parents' example onto my four children. Ten years have gone by since the party, a lot has changed especially mom's death. But, what hasn't changed is how Kay continues to touch each of us with a special kind of love. This year Kay celebrates her 50th birthday. We will celebrate a bit late, but in style with a big party when the entire family comes to Charlotte in September.