Reflections on the life of My Aunt Arlene
Arlene was my aunt, but she was more than that. She was my friend. All of us, who knew Arlene, knew that she was born with Down's Syndrome. Even though this is considered a severe form of mental retardation, Arlene found her niche in life just a much as anyone of the family. She was special from my earliest memories and a special blessing to our family.
As a child, she was my playmate. We played dolls, house, and colored in coloring books as all children do, As I grew up, I watched her continue to do the things we did as children, but there was something else that was special. She did many things for family members to help them and she did them joyfully. She made the beds just as soon as anyone got up. She washed the dishes by hand. She got you a cold drink of water when you were thirsty. She took your coat when you entered the house and she got it for you when you were ready to leave. She kept her bedroom and closet just as neat as any housekeeper in a magnificent mansion. (I always wished my closet was as neat as hers.) These were jobs she considered to be hers and she enjoyed
doing them. No one ever heard her complain. In fact, you might hear her complain if someone else did her job. The Bible teaches us to serve others and Arlene did that well. It also says the Lord loves a cheerful giver and Arlene certainly gave cheerfully to all of her family.
She loved collecting pictures, showing them to you when you came to visit, and telling you who each of them were. Her memory for all of the faces was remarkable. Also, You had better make sure you spoke to her and visited with her a while, or your picture just might DISAPPEAR! She liked to cut paper, too!
She loved to argue with anyone of us and as any of her nieces or nephews will tell you, she could hold her own with any one of us. Her speech might not have been perfect, but she could definitely get her point across to us!
She went camping with Aunt Pauline and Uncle Roy (who were her caregivers for many years), and thoroughly enjoyed being outside in God's beautiful world. Going to church and listening to the beautiful songs about the Lord was a special experience that she always wanted to do. She especially liked hearing Aunt Elsie and the Branham Brothers sing. (Aunt Elsie
also cared for her for many years). She called Friendship Church, her church.
Thinking back over her life, one can see she only needed the necessities and her family to make her happy. She always hugged us when we came to visit, and hugged us when we got ready to leave. She loved us unconditionally and we loved her in return. She continued to be a child in some ways, but she was so, so much more!
The average life span for a Down's Syndrome person is 42 years. Arlene was blessed with 68 years and 11months. Perhaps her life was longer to show others that all of us should live with the unconditional love and acceptance that she had. She didn't need material possessions to make her life full and happy. She loved God, she loved her family, and others and that's the way God wants all of us to live. There are many, many adults who never achieve what she did in her life.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote a poem called "What is Success?" Part of the poem said, "To laugh often and much, To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of a child; To appreciate beauty..." These were accomplishments of Arlene. She was respected by all who knew her. Her life was a successful one even though there were many obstacles in her way.
There's a Bible verse that says, "Suffer the little children to come unto me, for such is the kingdom of heaven. "Arlene was one of God's special children all of her life. We were wonderfully blessed that God put her in our lives. We can now rest assured that she has taken her rightful place in Heaven.
She will be missed by all who knew her.
This was wrote by my sister Gaye