Mother of two children with Down syndrome shares her story of love and compassion
By Audrey Brush-Miller
Two? Now I have two children with Down Syndrome? Is that even possible? After going through the hurdles of genetic testing, the doctors explained that it was Trisomy 21, an extra chromosome in every cell. A "sticky" chromosome. I thought an extra chromosome made them very special. Another doctor explained that older mothers were more likely to have a child with Down Syndrome. That was me, I was going on 42 years of age. For many years, I had been in education working with children of all ages. Hesitantly, I told myself that I could tackle this challenge as a single mother.
My son, Nathan, age 42, has a great sense of humor. He organizes his life in ways which help him feel secure. He has a Monday shirt, a Tuesday shirt, a Wednesday shirt, etc. Even though his speech is a challenge for him, his gestures and movements are how he expresses himself. However, over the past few years he has gained many words in his vocabulary! He has a phone and calls me every day. Our calls are "just keeping in touch moments.” They are my favorite part of the day. Nathan spends his time watching movies and TV shows. He is a big fan of the Walking Dead and Marvel super heroes!
My daughter, Melanie, is 36 years old. She's the definition of a busybody. She loves helping me with chores, going to church, and eating out. Her favorite foods are calamari and oysters… I think she just likes to shock others! Traveling is one of Melanie’s favorite hobbies. Together, we’ve been to the Harry Potter theme park at Universal, Sea World, the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Branson, MO, Portland, OR, and we often visit the Twin Cities in Minnesota. She is full of glee and "squeals" of joy when showing delight over people and events.
Being a mother of two children with Down syndrome (I like to call it Up syndrome) wasn't always easy. In my senior years, I like to look back and wonder how I survived. What gave me courage to persevere when things got difficult?
I prayed a lot. I also kept a gratitude journal to help me see the bigger picture. It gave me perspective. I journaled every day for two years while my children were in their teens, sometimes searching for something to write. There were times where I would just mention the weather or what we had for dinner that night. But I kept writing.
My unconditional love for my little family is all that mattered to me. Every night I pray for their safety and leave them in God's hands; I believe all children are gifts from God. I am truly blessed to have them in my life.
-Audrey Brush-Miller is a LifeScape Ambassador. Both of her children are supported by LifeScape.