One of the best things about blogging is the glorious people that you meet and become friends with. Melissa and I have bonded through our love of crafts, our faith and our prayers. I was delighted when she said she had two very special people in her life that she would like to introduce us to this month. After you read her post be sure to click over to her blog
and see what she is up to these days.
Hi Everyone! Melissa Gross here. Today I’d like to introduce you to two of the happiest people I know – both of whom were born with physical and mental challenges. The contagious happiness of these two individuals always makes me smile!
I’ve known Jeremy for at least 25 years and can’t remember a single time when he didn’t greet me with his winning smile and big hug. He was born 40 years ago with mental retardation and Williams Syndrome.
I met Jeremy through his mother Hazel, a lifetime Tupperware consultant. I purchased product from Hazel and even spent some time working on her team of consultants. She has become a dear friend. Jeremy still lived at home when I first met Hazel, so I often saw him when I stopped by to visit or pick up product. I would also run into him every year at a local festival, where he could walk around for hours saying “Hello” to everyone he knew (which was practically everybody it seemed!). Truly Jeremy will stop and talk to anyone, so Hazel will often say “He thinks he knows you.” She says the response in their small town is almost always, “Oh yeah, I know Jeremy!”
In 1994, Hazel made the decision to move Jeremy to a boarding home for individuals with similar IQs, an assisted living type home. The group of five men that live in the home all go to work each day during the week, a workshop type setup where there are tasks they can do. Hazel maintains guardianship of Jeremy, but at age 79 she has also made plans for her daughter to take over guardianship in the future.
Hazel still picks Jeremy up and brings him home most weekends and all holidays. He was with Hazel a couple of years ago when Robbie and I were in that area, and we enjoyed a wonderful lunch with the two of them. It is always so much fun to sit & listen to Jeremy tell stories about what he’s been up. (This photo cracks me up because we were heading out of the restaurant & Hazel had already put her sunshades on, which perfectly match Jeremy’s shirt.)
(Thanks Hazel for letting me share y’all’s story!)
I first met Debbie ten years ago, and although we’ve only seen each other intermittently during that time she too always has a big smile and a warm hug for me. She was born with Down Syndrome 49 years ago. Here she is when we visited her quite a few years ago – she was so proud to show us her room at home.
Debbie is Robbie’s aunt’s daughter (actually she’s her step-daughter, but Debbie’s dad passed away years ago & it’s been the two of them ever since). Aunt Diane has done such a fantastic job caring for and teaching Debbie. We enjoyed supper with them one evening and Debbie was right there setting the table, making sure everything was ready, and helping clean up the dishes afterwards. She also helps out by folding clothes and putting things away. Aunt Diane has recently had trouble getting around due to an issue with her knee, and Debbie has been such a huge blessing taking care of things around the house for her, holding on to her to help her walk, and comforting her.
Debbie also works weekdays in a workshop type environment and she & Aunt Diane will often celebrate payday by spending her small check on a nice meal out. It’s difficult for Aunt Diane to think about not being here for Debbie, but she has taken steps to be sure Debbie’s brother can take over guardianship if that need arises. "We were fortunate to get to visit with Aunt Diane & Debbie over dinner during our 24-hour trip to Ohio this past December . . . and to get a big hug, of course!"
(Thanks Aunt Diane for letting me share y’all’s story!)
I feel very fortunate to have Jeremy and Debbie (two of the happiest people I know) in my life, and I have learned a valuable lesson from them. They remind me to smile more and give more hugs, so that one day someone will say about me – she always welcomed me with a smile and a hug.
Thanks, Beverly, for letting me share about these two special people today in honor of your sister Pat!