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by Monica Brandies


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Other Work

Monica also writes on other subjects. In Bless You for the Gifts, published in 1997, she tells stories about some of the gift bearers who have made a happy difference in her life. Her most recent work is the story of her daughter Teresa, now 23, who was born with Down's syndrome. With a working title of From Dread to Delight, it is complete except for rewriting at an editor’s suggestion. It is now in the hands of a literary agent and we’re hoping for publication soon.

Below is a synopsis of this work.

From Dread to Delight

For David and me, life begins, and begins again, as we have our first children. Having a new baby always puts my life priorities back into proper order. But having teenagers almost causes me to break my baby addiction. Still, this is the story of Teresa, not of her eight siblings. But their doings did make this pregnancy in my 44th year unique even for us.

Teresa is born looking right at her daddy and has his heart from that very moment. Back in the recovery room, we are enjoying the first of that wonderful Cloud Nine happiness that only a new baby can bring when the doctor returns. "Her face looks a little mongoloid, but she has the right number of creases." The next day, after a scary morning, Dr. Swayze says, "We can wait and see. We'll know soon enough if she does have Downs syndrome, but I don't think she does."

Teresa fits herself into our family life while only David and I, usually on a rotating basis, worry about whether this is the best of times or the worst of times for her and for us. Either way, we love her so much that we'd give our lives to protect her from any unnecessary hurt.

Quite by accident we find out that help is available for children with disabilities even for people who live in the sticks. So we have to find out if she needs it and face--or celebrate-- the truth at last.

When hope leaves, great sadness sets in. But right away God begins sending us the people we need to carry us through, including Debbie, a teacher who comes once a week for an hour, and Charlene, a physical therapist, who comes twice a month.

Brigid and Kevin plan the first wedding among our children, which turns out to be the first of three in one year. Teresa and I go to a healing Mass with some amazing results. And finally, Teresa learns to walk at 28 months.

At age 3, Teresa starts school and enjoys her first peer group. Then we move to Florida. During the "summer from hell" only Teresa and her Daddy are happy. The teens are in a "social coma."

On her 9th birthday, her oldest brother is hit by a train in Iowa, and her party that year is unforgettable. Back at school the next spring we reluctantly agree to yet another school and to a new program that seems like a dousing of our dream.

Jr. High brings new challenges, new friends at school, football games. Friendships at home are still only with her siblings and their friends until she joins the Baptist groups for bowling and then the Y for softball.

Teresa adjusts again to a school twice as big as the last, except for the very early bus. It comes shortly after 6 am, while it is still dark, so she calls it night school. She dresses up for the Prom and for Gretchen's wedding. FFA becomes an important part of every school day. Special Olympics mean weekend practice and weekend trips to state games. At one prom Glenn arrives with another girl but Teresa just takes his other arm and enjoys the evening. And at church she discovers youth group and weekend retreats.

Since job training tends to rise and fall with the ratio of teachers to students, so we ask that Teresa be included in Community Based Training a year earlier. She works at Publix for one semester and at K-Mart in the bakery for the next. Her last year she works at the Plant City Hospital four mornings a week.

David and I worry about the future, but Teresa basks in the glory of the present. She still can't say the word right, but she has been talking about "grayshun" for two years and means to make the most of it. At the FFA banquet and awards ceremony Teresa receives a very special honor.

Even after graduation, special ed students are entitled to summer school, so Teresa happily goes back for her last 17 days. Job placement looms as a much larger challenge than we expected, until finally Tabitha Lambert comes onto the scene and Teresa is finally employed.

While her siblings promise that Teresa will never be left without a home and loving care, we work to provide for her financially and to prepare her physically and emotionally to take her place in the world. Sometimes she thinks that means running it, and she might not be so bad at the job. Her siblings feel she certainly runs us and our home, but since she is our beloved and lasting child, we almost feel sorry for people who never have a child with Down syndrome--most of the time.