When she was born, my father’s heart broke, and one of the things that fell out and rolled under the couch and was never found was the the idea that we can make comforting assumptions about how our children are greeted into this world.
The doctor who diagnosed her with an intestinal blockage gave my father the option of withholding the surgery and letting her die, so that he wouldn’t have to go home with a retarded child.
And when my dad called his mother to tell her about her new granddaughter, she tried to console him by saying that, “At least she’s not a mongoloid.” And he had to take a deep breath and say the words that made it true: his daughter was a mongoloid. Was retarded. Was damaged.
But when he called his friends Artie and Margie, and told them, they said,
“If you don’t want her, we will take her.”
We kept her.
She turned 27 last month.