There's a man in our small town named Brian.
Brian does not have Down syndrome, but he does have some developmental delays. He is a bit older, and all that I've ever heard that he has for a diagnosis is that he is "simple" - a term that was used when people his age were born and did not develop as their peers did.
Anyone who lives here knows Brian. He lives in an assisted living facility, and he is often see walking down our Main Street. His familiar sway as he walks makes him easy to recognize.
He has a daily routine, and stops to visit many businesses every day. He knows many people by name, and seems to remember them by some unique fact he knows about them.
I've known him for 15 years - introduced to him by Wayne. Every time I've met him, for 15 years, he talks about my blue car -- a 1989 Dodge Daytona that has long since been taken to a junk pile, I imagine. He always says, "you still got that blue car? That's a nice car. Yeah, I loved that car."
With Wayne, he always talks about his favourite rock group, AC/DC, that he calls "DC/DC"
Brian probably never went to school, and certainly does not read or write. He holds a job at our local newspaper putting inserts in the papers once a week, and also LOVES his honorary traffic cop job. He frequently wears his orange vest with the flourescent yellow X on the back in case he needs to spring into duty at any time.
When Dakotah was perhaps 2 or 3, we were walking by Wayne's parents house one day, and Brian was visiting outside with Wayne's father. When Dakotah asked who it was, Wayne's father said, "This is Brian, he's my boss."
So, its always been a cute little story when we are driving and we see him walking along, "Oh, look -- there's Pepere's boss!"
Tonight, I am taking Dakotah to a friend's house and a van goes by us. She looks at the driver and says, "He looks just like Pepere's boss." Then she starts jabbering about Brian, and says to me, "Wow, he must be pretty old -- Pepere is 74, and he was his boss. He looks pretty good for being that old."
I look at Dakotah for a moment, and say, "You know that Brian isn't really Pepere's boss, don't you?" She was stunned!! I explain to her about Brian -- that he's got some developmental delays, tell her where he lives, etc., and she still doesn't understand...
All of the years of her life, even before Paige was born, Dakotah has had brief encounters with Brian. She recognizes his funny little waddle as he walks, and has heard him tell us the same three stories over and over again, sometimes more than once in one sitting.
She must see that he talks differently, walks different, acts differently than most adults she knows.
Yet, it has never occured to her that he was anything but a regular ol' guy who was once her grandfather's boss. He has never stood out to her in any negative way at all. Her mind could not comprehend why he couldn't be Pepere's boss.
She talked about it all night; she was fascinated by the story and how it came to be with a fun little story told to her by her grandfather ten years ago. She certainly cannot wrap her brain around the idea that even knowing a bit more about Brian, that there is some reason he couldn't have been Pepere's boss.
There's got to be something very special about a person like Dakotah, who has learned a lesson about not setting limitations for people and about not judging them from how they look.
I'm not sure these lessons have come from Wayne and me. I'm not convinced you can teach this kind of deep compassion and appreciation for all human beings.
I think these things must exist in our spirit, and some of us simply chose to exorcise them.
I learned a beautiful lesson about my daughter tonight, from a two minute impromptu conversation about a man driving a van that looked like someone she knew.
Its no wonder she adores her little sister so much. Its no wonder she never loses patience with her. Its no wonder that when she is out in public with her, she wants to be the one to hold her hand or show her something neat in a store. Its no wonder she will sit and talk to her for hours, even though Paige cannot talk back. Its no wonder that she is so, so proud of her and that she wants all of her friends to meet Paige.
She sees her sister's soul. And when one looks at another's soul, no limitations are found.