Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Gift of Down Syndrome -Aunt Cindy Abbott's Funeral

Remember Aunt Cindy with Down Syndrome from Peach Days? Well, She died this past week at age 59 and I took my two oldest daughters and my son who also has Downs with me and we went to Las Vegas.We were so grateful that we had had that time to spend with Cindy last summer. My entire family fell in love with her. She brightened all of our lives. 

My Uncle Garth had called and asked me to speak at her grave-side service. After spending some time in thought, I realized that what I wanted to share was already written down in our 2004 Christmas card that we sent out. People asked me for copies afterwards and so I thought I would share it here. I am grateful for my faith that Cindy is in a better place now.

Uncle Garth is in Stage 4 cancer and was in Chemotherapy. He was pretty sick at Cindy's funeral. We need to keep him in our prayers.

Sometimes Joseph just takes to certain people. He loves everyone but sometimes he really, really likes someone. He really likes Joe Prete my brother-in-law. My little Joseph hadn't seen him for a while and this was the reception he got. Maybe it's because they share the same name. Who knows.

Dear Family and Friends,                                                                                                                                                    Christmas 2004
      We hope you and your family are well and happy this Christmas season. We feel especially blessed this year.
      Many of you know that our eighth child, Joseph Michael Bryce was born last January (see picture). He was born one month early with Down syndrome. Fortunately, although he was weak at first, his health is good and he’s sitting and using his hands very well. We've reflected a lot on Joseph and his condition. After all the thoughts, prayers, and pondering, the one simple conclusion we've come to, the one truth we now believe with all our hearts, is simply this: Joseph’s condition is a GIFT. For Joseph, it means he will be free from so many of the cares of the world. He will live out his life with no guile, with no unkind thoughts. Our gift is that we have the joy of this little angel in our midst. This has a marvelous effect. It makes all of us want to be a little better, to reach a little higher, to love a little deeper, to be a little more grateful.
      We didn't reach these realizations all at once. It's been a slowly unfolding understanding of what has happened in our family. Others understood much better even before we did. Over 2000 years ago, as Mary and Joseph were taking the baby Jesus to the temple to "present him to the Lord," they encountered Simeon there. Simeon had been promised that he should not taste death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. When Simeon saw the Savior, he tenderly "took him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, ‘Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word. For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.’” Then the key point: “And Joseph and his mother marveled at those things which were spoken of him (Luke 2:28-33, KJV).” It was as if Jesus' parents knew, but didn't fully understand, and this caused them to marvel.
      Joseph was still very young when we attended church with Angelyn’s family in Southern Utah one weekend. Her Uncle Garth was there. Garth had grown up with his sister Cindy, now in her fifties, who also has Down syndrome. As we sat down in the chapel, Garth, a large, masculine man, eagerly asked if he could hold Joseph. As Angelyn handed him over, Garth took him into his arms ever so tenderly, as if he were a most precious and priceless treasure. As he held him close, tears welled up in his eyes. He thought of Cindy and tenderly whispered, "she taught us how to love …  she taught us how to love." Then he gently rocked Joseph, holding him close with those tears on his cheeks. As we looked upon this tender scene, which went on for several minutes, tears flowed for us too. We don't know when we have ever seen a more tender display of pure love. And this was for our son! We longed to love him as much as Garth seemed to love him. But Garth also seemed to know something about him that we didn't know, something that we couldn't even understand. Garth was our Simeon that day, and it caused us to marvel.
      We think now our family has caught a small glimpse of what Garth already knows: that Joseph will teach us how to love in ways we can't even imagine.
      Everyone else is doing great. Please come and see us in Provo when you can. May the joy of the season and love of the Savior sink deep into all of our hearts this Christmas season.
      Love, David, Angelyn, Rick, Anna, Abby, Rex, Emerald, Megan, John, and Joseph

No comments:

Post a Comment