Since Mom’s death in 1993 I’ve been the family member most involved in my developmentally disabled/intellectually challenged oldest sister’s care. Sharon has been so blessed with wonderful care where she lives in a group home. (THANK YOU GOD!!!!).
Today I participated in a phone conference call to analyze and evaluate the care she is receiving. My input was limited and really I didn’t need to say much. They asked Sharon questions and she answered. And I listened to it all.
You need to know that Sharon is a very unique person. God designed her to forever function at about a 9 year old level. She’s 82. Today, the interviewer asked her how old she is and she answered “I’m 82 and I’ll be 83 next year on Monday.” No date, just Monday. I didn’t have to check the calendar to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that her birthday is on Monday next year. She always always knows exactly when her birthday is. And if you tell her your birthday, she’ll always always know exactly when yours is too, probably right down to the day of the week.
Today during the conference call interview, one of the questions was “How many different languages do you speak?” Sharon quickly answered, “Two.” I smiled to myself on my end of the phone and wondered what in the world she was talking about. Her case worker who was right there with her said “Really, Sharon? What language beside English do you speak?” “Oh I speak German, too.” No one at the interview questioned her answer. However, I had a hard time suppressing laughter as I listened on my end by speaker phone. The hubby heard it, too, and we silently shook with laughter at her answer.
Her knowledge of German consists of: danke schoen. Wayne Newton on the radio singing his Danke Schoen song would immediately cause Sharon to break out in loud song. So yes, she knows German. Thank You Very Much. To be fair, she also would frequently say “Auf Wiedersehen” instead of goodbye. So. She is practically fluent in German. 🤪
Then there was the time we took Sharon out to eat with us at a local restaurant. She was very conversational and speaking in an unpleasantly loud voice, audible to anyone inside and/or outside the restaurant. I touched her arm and quietly said, “Sharon could you please lower your voice?” And. She did. About 3 octaves lower, same decibel level. In a booming deep voice she said “Is this better?”, still audible to anyone inside and/or outside the restaurant. Oh, the laugh we had. I think I even fell off the chair laughing at her “lowered voice”.
Sharon also loves calendars. Every December she starts collecting calendars for the next year and has them displayed all over her room where she lives. You can’t go wrong giving her a calendar for Christmas or her birthday or whatever other holiday it may be.
A few years ago my niece Amy was staying with us to visit family, while her husband was at their home. Sharon was with us for a visit, too. Amy and her husband Don had a Facetime session by phone. Sharon was just absolutely insistent that she needed to Facetime with Don, too. My goodness, she needed to talk to him about something. She had never ever heard of using your phone to look at someone while talking to them, and she was as excited as a little kid in a candy store. So Amy handed Sharon the phone and tried to explain to her that all she needed to do was look at the phone and talk. No need to put it to your ear. This seemed to be a totally confusing process to Sharon. But she finally took the I-phone, and she actually did not hold it up to her ear. Instead, she placed it directly on one of her eyes, giving Don a full on close up view of her one good eyeball. Then she slowly and precisely said, “Don, I just want to tell you one thing. I hope you have a Very…. Happy…. Hanukkah.” ?? Hanukkah? Where did that come from? We’re not Jewish, but I guess Hanukkah was coming up on one of her beloved calendars. We all laughed until we cried. Don wittily came back with “Shalom, Sharon.” And then we helped Sharon pull the I-phone away from her eyeball. That’s really all she wanted to say to Don.
Like the rest of her family, she’s a “word” person. Sharon feels very skilled at conversation and using big words. It’s her comfort zone. This, however, doesn’t mean that she always uses the words she says correctly. Over the years this has resulted in some pretty entertaining conversations. None better than one she had with our Mom.
Mom had a long list of errands, an agenda if you will, to accomplish downtown and she took Sharon with her. First stop was the bank drive-through where Mom did business with the teller at the window. As Mom turned back to drive away Sharon asked, “Well, Mom, what’s next on the vagina?” 😳😲🤣😂 The vision I have of Mom re-telling that story to me is etched in my mind forever. She was laughing so hard she was crying and could hardly get the story told without long fits of laughter. Then I was laughing so hard I was crying and then I told my family and…… you get the drift. The word “agenda” will never be the same for us. It has been a family laugh for the ages. Not necessarily an appropriate laugh, but nonetheless, what else would you do but laugh?
Sharon enjoys our laughter. She really does. We enjoy Sharon. We really do. We all have an endless supply of stories about times when Sharon has brought laughter to our lives.
We all would have loved for her life to be easier, more “normal”.
But my goodness….. she has a simple life with excellent care and a family that loves her dearly. She’ll forever have the innocent mind of a little girl, and a heart full of love for her sisters and family. I’m choosing to find the good. There’s so very much to find in my sister Sharon. ❤ Smiles. Laughs. Hugs. Love.