Lizzie - a guest post
As a child, I had the privilege of being best buddies with a dear cousin who happened to have Down syndrome. Lizzie was substantially older than I. I have no idea how much older ... age was irrelevant to our friendship. I do know that several of my siblings went through a period where Lizzie was their best friend as well. Many hours were spent at Lizzie's house working Jig Saw puzzles; she was a master at those tiny, 1000 piece puzzles. I remember one particular day as we were working a huge puzzle, she pulled out a piece of paper that she was particularly proud of. Scrawled on the paper was ELIZABETH. She had learned to write her name. We loved playing in her chicken coup. Her older brother taught us to rope the chickens. Sometimes we shot baskets. She always took very special care of everything she had. One such thing was a beautiful orange basketball. For some reason, her basketball never faded.
Perhaps our most enjoyable past time was peddling through the neighborhood on our bikes ... hers was a gold beach cruiser type 3 speed; mine a yellow banana seat Schwinn with monkey hanger handle bars. We peddled for hours, sometimes visiting ... sometimes in silence. Either way, we were both comfortable and enjoyed the breezes in our faces and the companionship of a buddy. One particular day, Lizzie refused to ride bikes. In fact after several refusals, her mother explained that a few days prior while in route to my house, a particular boy in the neighborhood called her "RETARD" and thrown rocks at her. She returned home wanting to know what retard meant, and no longer wanting to ride bikes. I kept trying and got her out a few times, but something had changed.
As I got older, Lizzie and I remained friends, but my life changed. We wrote letters back and forth while I was at college. I always visited her when I returned home and I was so excited to have her hold my first baby. Lizzie was my best friend for lots of years during my childhood. I remember my friendship with her with joy ... and many fond memories.