(11/2012) A few times a week I drive my car towards Frederick in order to pick up my companion for the next couple of hours. In my car I blare the music in the attempt to forget about the stresses of classes and teaching and the challenges that come with college life. That is easier said than done, as the songs on the radio are not giving me the
reassurance that I need. I pull up in front of the designated house and turn off my car, making sure to unlock my passage door. I get out of the car and I see her. She is walking towards me with a huge smile on her face and her hand in the air waving at me. As I step around my car, she stops waving and rushes towards me as fast as she can with her arms outstretched. When
those arms are around me I feel loved, appreciated and comforted. I give her a hug back and I realize this is what is important in life: to love and care for others. When we pull apart from the embrace, we go inside and talk to her mom about our plans for the day.
Once we talk with her mom we head back out to my car on our way to the adventure for the day. As she steps up to my passenger door she tries to open it, discovering she can. She looks across the car at me with a huge grin on her face saying, "You remembered for once, Sam." I smile back at her and respond, "Of course I did, because if I do not remember
to unlock my car you tease me for the rest of the day." She smiles and says, "Well, unlocking your car is not a difficult thing to remember to do." I respond, explaining that I always lock my car to make sure it is not broken into and I just forget sometimes. She again answers me with a simple smile and the remark, "Excuses, excuses."
As Emma (as I will call her) and I get into my car and drive away from her house, she is usually full of stories about her day or something that happened on a day when I did not see her. Emma always has something to tell me. It brings her such joy to share her excitements with me. As Emma tells me her exciting stories, I am shocked with the simplicity
of it. She is so joyful about the simple pleasures of life that I continually take for granted. I am shocked that she never took anything for granted, especially her family and friends.
Emma is a treasured gift in my life. She is a twenty-six year old woman who has Down ’s syndrome. Down’s syndrome is a condition in which extra genetic material causes delays in the child developments, both physically and mentally. People with Down’s syndrome tend to share similar characteristics such as a flat facial profile, an upward slant to the
eyes, small ears, and a protruding tongue; they typically remain smaller than their peers and have low muscle tone and speech impairments. People with Down’s syndrome can have mild to serve difficulties including a number of health problems. On a general basis, people with Down’s syndrome tend to learn at a much slower rate, but they are by no means incompetent.
I was able to meet Emma through the Arc of Frederick County, where I work as a skills educator and respite care provider. I assist people with disabilities by helping them learn important social skills when they come and I provide them with respite care. I help the parents by giving them a break and provide people like Emma a chance to get out of the
house for a social outing. Emma and I have all kinds of adventures such as walks in the park, trips to the mall, lunch and dinner dates, baseball games, Special Olympics activities, fairs, festivals, meetings, etc. We have a lot of fun on our adventures. Every day we go on an adventure, I learn something from her.
Emma’s life is so simple, yet so incredibly joyful. She finds joy in everything that happens to her. She even finds joy in the negative things. She sees the good in everyone. No one can do anything wrong to each other in her world. It is a peaceful and enjoyable world in which she lives. I learn so much from the example that Emma gives me about living
each day to the fullest.
Life is the greatest gift that we could have and in the craziness of each day, we tend to forget what is truly important in life. We need to enjoy the life we have been given and not constantly try to change it to something better. We need to enjoy the life that we have been given and embrace the simple pleasure of life such as family and friends.
In this month of November, while there is still quiet before the hustling and bustling of the Christmas season—think of the simple pleasures of Emma’s world. Reflect what you are living for. Discover what you really want to appreciate about your life and what you want to get out of your life.
Read past editions of Samantha Strub's Four Years at the Mount