International Women’s Day – the Woman I Admire Most

“Your new little sister is a Mongoloid,” Dad’s tone was somber and he watched us all carefully for a reaction.  It was September 1970.  Dad had sat us all down, all seven of us, so that we could understand the depth of this new development.  The baby was going to show up with slanted eyes and a large, protruding, pointed tongue.

At nine years old, I took this all very seriously.  From his description she sounded like some sort of freak.  But my heart immediately went out to her.
Then she arrived.  She didn’t look like a freak.  She was a pink and golden infant with perfect skin and tiny, plump clenched fists.  It had been five years since we’d had a baby in the house, and when this one opened her eyes, I saw they were navy blue, so dark that the pupils were indiscernible.  I fell immediately, violently in love.  I had never seen a baby more beautiful.  I even loved her name:  Amanda Christina Bowman Bailey.  Maybe it was my age, or perhaps it was the fact that she was different from other babies, but some sort of tender mothering thing in me kicked in.  This became my baby.  I dressed her.  I fed her.  I changed her.  I held and talked to her for hours.  I sat by the crib and watched her sleep.
Amanda age 2, and already a superstar! Note one shoe off…
 As she grew, she became very much her own person, filled with the typical sweetness that people with Down’s are known for.  But she has an added twist of sarcasm and an unexpected wit that will ambush the innocent bystander.  She has remained my good buddy all these years.  Her stoicism grounds me in ways that no one else can.  (Like the time she handed me a five dollar bill and said, “Go get a Coke and calm yourself.”)
I’ve kept a journal of quotes from her over the years, and reviewing them always makes me wish I had started sooner.  Here’s hoping for many more quotes, many more movies and pizzas and Girl’s Day Out events with Amanda.

Nancy: Amanda, your eye is red. Does it hurt?
Amanda: No.
Nancy: Look that way. Look this way. Look up.
Amanda: It’s okay.
Nancy:  How many fingers am I holding up?
Amanda: Two. (Making the shape of an L on her forehead) How many
fingers am *I* holding up?

Posing by Manistique light house!
·         Amanda: I told you about Elizabeth Taylor, right?
·          Me: I heard.
·         Amanda:  She’s going to be buried right smack dab next to Michael Jackson. At Neverland Ranch.
·         Me: Michael Jackson is buried at Neverland Ranch?
·         Amanda: Yes. They have a cemetary there.
·         Me: They do?
·         Amanda: Yes.
·         Me: Who else is buried there?
·         Amanda: Elizabeth Taylor!
Amanda frequently helps out with Clifford’s events.

Me:  I hate driving when I’m this tired.  My judgment is like the weather: A little cloudy. 
Amanda:  It’s not THAT bad.
Me: Aw, thanks Manda!
Amanda:  I meant the weather.
Dad and Amanda, 2012
Me (attempting to wax philosophical): What’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?


     Amanda (without hesitation): You.

“Amanda With Her Coke”, illustration from “Clifford of Drummond Island”

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About Nancy J. Bailey

Artist, author, bad karaoke singer. Woodsy ragamuffin. Mom of a horse named Clifford who plays fetch and paints with watercolors. He visits libraries and schools with me, to promote literacy and making the world a better place. Yes, he is house trained, no, he doesn't live in my house! I have written three books about Clifford. But my newest book, THE NORTH SIDE OF DOWN, is co-written by my awesome sister Amanda, who has Down syndrome. Her unexpected one-liner wisecracks can always make me laugh. If you make me laugh, you've made my day!
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One Response to International Women’s Day – the Woman I Admire Most

  1. I Absolutely Love This!!!

    Barb Canonico

    Like

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