Great Uncle Jake
People sometimes ask me when I became interested in working with people with disabling conditions. Quite simply, I say, “I was born curious about my Great Uncle Jake.”
Jake was born with Downs’ Syndrome long before it was called, “Downs’ Syndrome”. His parents, in their infinite wisdom, made a choice to raise him on the family farm. In the 1920’s, most children that lived to adulthood with Downs’ Syndrome were sent to institutions. This family challenged popular beliefs of the day in teaching Jake to work on the farm and be an active part of their family.
When I was little, I loved my Great Uncle Jake! He always had a smile, hug, and kiss ready for me. Sometimes, he’d even pull out the harmonica or guitar to play an Elvis Presley song. It usually took me 24 hours to understand his speech patterns. And, it was extremely important for me to understand Jake. There were even a few times that he kept me alive on a working farm as a youngster.
None of that would have happened if he’d been institutionalized. I also do not believe that all of his older siblings would have outlived Jake, had they not been instrumental to his care.
Thanks Uncle Jake! I know that you are waiting with the Lord in Heaven to tell me everything that I didn’t understand about you in this life.