We have company this week. Our friend Mary is staying with us until the end of the month. Mary is a little woman with a big presence. She's closing in on 60, with a great smile, an eye for detail, and an appreciation for the absurd. She also has Down Syndrome, rides in a wheelchair most of the time, and doesn't hear at all. She communicates with a heavily adapted version of sign language that accommodates her arthritic fingers, complimented by some pretty clear body language.
Mary is a regular visitor at our house, and it is such a treat to welcome her, in particular because of how much she and the kids enjoy one another. The boys are very physical beings, always creating some kind of spectacle, be it wrestling under a blanket in the middle of the living room floor, balancing sideways on the back of the couch, or moving their high chairs across the floor by ferociously bouncing up and down during meals. This kind of entertainment is right up Mary's alley and she watches, fascinated, with an amused smile tinged with just a hint of disapproval. The boys seem to know that she loves them, pointing to her and announcing her nickname in their husky, slurred little voices, "Bomber!"
Maggie is fascinated with Mary's communication style, and loves the challenge of trying to get her point across to Mary, as well as to decipher what Mary is trying to say.
And so Mary fits right in, rounding out our crazy family with her years of wisdom and peaceful, centering influence. At the end of the day when the kids are settled, she sits with me on the couch and smiles. She looks in my eyes and reminds me of our years of friendship and all that has changed for both of us since we were roommates many moons ago. Even though now I am all grown up (thanks, in large part, to Mary) I still feel like a kid in comparison to Mary's life and experience. She is like a silent mentor who, without saying a thing, reminds me of who I am and what is important.