It was April 4, 2004. Like the day I heard the news of John Fitzgerald Kennedy in Dallas; I remember exactly. It was a Saturday morning. I was leaving a customer's house from doing a plumbing estimate. I pulled over on City Ave. where ABC's Dave Roberts does front lawn weather reports. "Joe, it's Pat, we have a new granddaughter. Shiela is fine, Joe, but the baby has some problems." There was a pause. I waited. Then the words, "She has Down syndrome." My very first reaction was a silent, "Why?"
Visions engulfed me.
They all looked alike, or so I always thought, but now I realized I never was really looking or paying attention. I did not know anything. From the first time I laid eyes on her, I felt connected. She had my heart just as fast as the ground would claim a falling anvil.
It was Gerry's second Christmas Eve when we learned that she had Acute Mycological Leukemia. She spent six months in Saint Christopher's Hospital undergoing chemotherapy treatment. She finally came home to the delight of her brothers, Vincent and Andrew, and soon after became big sister to Xavier. She continues her check ups and is still cancer free.
She expresses love in ways that you would only expect from the receiving arms of the Lord escorting you through the pearly gates. Yes, she can be heavenly bliss strumming music on your heartstrings when you come to visit her house or when she comes bursting into our living room, on the run with outstretched open arms. She is never embarrassed to hug too long or feel awkward about ending a conversation with her signature, "Stop It!" She is a walking, talking, firecracker at times. "Feist" is one of her endearing handles. It is short for Feisty. She is a learning machine, a love machine, a chipsaholic and a demanding Diva when she wants to be heard. She listens with her ears and her eyes. She can now sign the entire alphabet and even teach slow learners like her grandfather by twisting my fingers into shapes and sizes she can read.
Shiela, who is a champion rainbow maker and earth shaker herself, reports daily. Gerry attends a mainstream school with "typical" kids. Curbing great expectations was advised, but Ger knows none of that. She brings out the best in her schoolmates. Gerry is now involved in T ball, soccer and dancing classes. Her nickname is "Delight" or sometimes just "D." She is sunshine for us all. She loves to sing.
"What's new with Gerry?" I just asked Pat. What greatness can I write about her? Pat relates today's Geraldine report to me. Yesterday, Gerry and Iggy (Xavier) were eating their breakfast cereal. Igg laments "Oh darn it, there is no sunshine today!" Gerry immediately breaks into song, "Mister Sun, Sun, pretty golden Sun, won't you please shine down on me?" She warms us all!