My father’s mother had a brother with Downs Syndrome. With almost no education and none of the special programs that exist today, his functioning was very minimal. He loved to watch baseball and popped Tums like they were candy (he must have had strong bones). When his parents died he moved in with my grandparents and stayed there until he and my grandmother both had to go live someplace with specialized medical care. After my grandfather died, my grandmother and her brother established a routine of going to certain restaurants on certain nights. A friend and I joined them one night when they went to eat at the “T Room”. My grandmother was chatting away about her arthritis, her church, her this and her that. My Great-Uncle took advantage of a brief moment of silence and started talking about a town resident who was always very kind to him. My grandmother looked sort of puzzled and then snarled “He’s dead now.” Without pausing, my Great-Uncle matter-of-factly said, “He didn’t used to be.” My friend and I couldn’t help laughing. The next time you or someone you know is being treated condescendingly, look the egotist in the eye and say “Didn’t used to be.”

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