April 16, 2013

Reflections - Aunt Katie

People often ask me about Alex’s family and acceptance. To that end in 2009 I asked my four siblings, and Alex’s two siblings to share their reflections on Down syndrome. John and I also contributed.

For the next two weeks I will be sharing those reflections in no particular order. This first reflection was published on December 5, 2009.


I'd like to introduce a new series in my narrative of Alex's life, this will be called Reflections.

I have asked our friends and families to provide their own perspectives on Alex; her birth and her life. Everything I have written to date has been about me, my perspective and my relationship with Alex. My husband says "it takes a village", I appreciate we are not alone in raising Alex - a lot of people have been in our lives since her birth.

To recognize the support and love we have received from so many people, I have asked once again for their assistance. This time I have asked to hear their voices. I will share as I can - the final reflection will be mine.

These reflections will not be in any special order, mostly order of receipt. This first reflection is from my youngest sister, Katie. Katie is the youngest of the five children in my family. We are one of those Irish Catholic families, and children with special needs were not that uncommon to us as we grew up. That idea of kismet strikes me again.

Katie and I are ten years apart; she was 26 and a newlywed, when Alex was born. Although Katie and I have a memory difference on this - I remember calling each of my siblings when Alex was born and they all had different variations of the same response "so what". Those first responses were so reassuring, I believe, it accelerated our healing process.

Thanks Katie - Kates. Enjoy!

When my niece, Alex, was born my sister didn't know that she was having a baby with Down Syndrome. She was as surprised as the rest of the universe.

When she did find out, and let us all know, she did it in the form of a letter. The letter also accompanied the birth announcement. I thought this was a great way to handle the situation. What she began by saying is that she and my brother in law, John, joyfully announced the birth of their daughter, Alex Hughes Bender. She is a beautiful, healthy baby girl with Down Syndrome.

Alex was never "labeled" in our family. Not once, ever. She was just Alex. She was treated just like all the other, now 13, nieces and nephews. I think this has always been a strength of Alex's, and of ours.

Although she is not a "normal" kid. She is "normal" to us Hughes' and that works out just fine for us! She will always hold a special place for all of us.

Like the time she wrote an amazing song at my Mom's wedding that left all 200 people in tears (in a good way).

We wouldn't be the Hughes', in our best form, without Alex Hughes Bender. Can't imagine life without her.

Amen Sister!

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