One of my very favorite families is the Carsons. We met Susan, Paul and Anthony when Cora was about 10 weeks old, after meeting Susan on an online message board. We have had the chance to spend time on several occasions with their beautiful family, although not nearly as often as we'd like.
Susan and Paul are a blast. Fun, energetic and positive and they have such great perspective on their lives with their gorgeous boy, Anthony, who is almost 2 years older than Cora.
Anthony's dad Paul is pretty inspirational to me. For the most part it's the mothers who are the visible outspoken participants in our Down syndrome community, while so many fathers quietly offer support from the sidelines. But not so with Paul. I learned that he is a wonderful speaker when I had the opportunity to hear him tell Anthony's story at one of the NWDSA presentations last spring. He is hilarious and warm and loves his boy so, so well. Just one look at the two of them together and you know that their bond is special, indeed.
I love hearing about the adventures of their family, reading Susan's perspective on their life, and seeing the ridiculously adorable pictures of Anthony at Susan's blog, Keeping Up With The Carsons.
Yesterday's post (a story written by Paul) was remarkable, so I asked them if I could share it here. Susan and Paul have graciously allowed me to share it with you.
“The Country of Normal”
(a fable by Anthony's Dad)
If you travel, there’s a country you may have visited called Normal. You may even live there. Normal has a bit of an overpopulation problem – it seems that everybody wants to live there. The folks who live in Normal tend to talk the same way, dress the same way and its citizens are encouraged to paint between the lines and do their best to fit in.
Every now and then, someone will be born in Normal who’s a little different.
For some reason, these different folks seemed to scare the inhabitants of Normal. If you were different, you would find that you’d been asked to leave the country and that your citizenship in Normal had been revoked.
The Governor of Normal wanted everyone to feel safe. “When things are different, folks aren’t sure what to expect and that scares ‘em!” he explained, “Birds of a feather!”
First, the Governor began to worry about people who’d been born someplace else: “They’re originally from a different country – they talk funny and believe in a different book about a different God! That scares folks and makes ‘em doubt things! If other folks believe something different, that could mean that there’s a chance that what I believe could be wrong.”
Then, the Governor decided everyone whose skin happened to be a different color should be asked to leave – because that probably was a good sign they were originally from someplace else anyway.
The Governor felt that things still weren’t Normal enough. So everyone who happened to have been born with an extra chromosome was told they had to go someplace else. “We all like to do things at the same fast speed here in Normal, and, well, you just aren’t fast enough…”
Then it was time to deal with people whose intimate relationships were different – “Having two mommies or two daddies isn’t the Normal way,” said the Governor. “Those kinds of relationships threaten our Normal relationships.” The Governor couldn’t really explain why that was, but everyone agreed it was probably for the best.
He was making progress, but things still weren’t Normal enough. There were all these Heavy-set people who just didn’t fit in. They would have to go – they were eating all the food. Then there were the really old people – and the young people with the uncertain new ideas. It seemed the more the Governor looked for people who didn’t belong, the more of them he found.
One day the Governor overslept and when he woke up he realized he was out of coffee. So he decided to walk to the store to get some – but the store was closed. He remembered it had been run by someone who had been born someplace else. He continued down the street and realized that all the other stores were closed as well. They’d been owned by fat people or gay people or slower people – they’d all moved away. The Governor had wandered all the way to the farthest fence near the border, and he realized he was all alone – he was the last one left. He dropped to his knees and without really knowing why, he began to cry. “What have I done? I never thought I’d be all alone – this isn’t what I wanted!” he cried.
Suddenly a voice called out to him from beyond the fence, over on the other side. It was a little girl. Her skin was darker than his and he could tell by looking at her that she’d been born with an extra chromosome – that she was different. “Don’t cry, mister. You don’t have to be alone – we have room for you over here."
She opened up the gate and she took his hand. Here were all the people who’d left – all of them – and they were living together. Everyone seemed happy – and there were so many differences, all mixed together, it was impossible to tell who was who. Funny how it didn’t seem to matter anymore.
“You’re so kind to take me in,” he said. “What is this place?”
“We call it the Country without Fear,” she replied. “That’s the only thing that can’t live here.”
You can read the original post here at Keeping Up With The Carsons- The Country of Normal and become a follower of Susan's blog.
For more from Paul, check out his contribution to the December 2011 NWDSA newsletter, "You're a hero to somebody- clown shoes optional." (Page 5)