LEARNING FROM LUKE
One of the most memorable families that I have photographed this year is most definitely The Roberts family. I cried a bit when I met Luke and I will tell you why…
In February, my husband sent me a link to a blog post and told me to read it. It was an article written by a Mom who had a child born with Down Syndrome. She was at Woolies doing some groceries and watched a young man with Down Syndrome and his Dad playing a joke on his Mom at the checkout. They were giggling at something and she was playing along. Jess writes:
I can tell you that it took everything inside of me not to leave my fully laden trolley, gallop after the family, tackle them in a bear hug and shout at the top of my lungs “YES! You feel it too! I can feel that all encompassing, pure, life changing love and pride that we feel for our son too!”
TEARS!!!! This was OUR family. My husband’s brother is David, and he was born with Down Syndrome. He is not much younger than Mark and the two of them are thick as thieves. David is very much a part of our lives and spends a week at our house every couple of weeks. It was so moving to know that a young Mom had found hope in watching them interact.
I read Jess’s entire blog that evening and sent the link to all my family. Everyone responded the same way – you have GOT to get in touch with Jess. So I sent her a message, she replied, and that was the beginning of our friendship.
When Jess had her little Holly, I was thrilled that she wanted me to photograph her family. I am not going to lie, I got choked up when I greeted Luke. I felt as though I was holding a little David and in some weird maternal way felt sad that I had never known him as a little boy. Luke is absolutely GORGEOUS! And so is his sister Holly.
It was the greatest honour to photograph them and I think love poured through my shutter button that day more than it ever has.
David is such an incredible man and plays a huge role in my life. I really and truly love him with my whole heart and feel so lucky to have him as part of my family. When I married Mark, I knew that David would be part of my forever and I couldn’t have been more happy about it. He loves me and takes care of me, even if I am tired and grumpy.
He pours me endless glasses of water, makes me coffee and brings me toast. He massages my feet every single night while we watch TV and if he wants to watch the computer while I work then he massages my shoulders (that’s our deal). If he’s not at our house (he lives with his parents) then he phones to check up on me and ask how my day was. He wants to know all the details about the weddings I shoot, from their names to what we had for dinner. He would be the first to notice if I had bought something new or changed my hair, and he would compliment me on it no matter what.
I don’t get upset when people ask me questions about him as I know that not everyone has had the opportunity to get to know and love a person with Down syndrome, but if you have questions based on stereotypes, then here are a few answers:
- No, he is not a handful
- He’s not in the least bit aggressive. Not even 1%. I saw him angry once after getting a lecture from Mark and he answered back with “Yes, Dr Phil”…we almost wet ourselves. That cheeky thing!
- He makes himself food, tea, juice, feeds the dogs, locks up the house, cleans, takes his own medicine, and stays home alone.
- He is amazing with Ellie and she adores him. He carries her around and keeps her out of trouble. They play peek-a-boo games and he makes her giggle.
- He has hobbies. He plays golf, swims and loves to putt. He enjoys watching soap operas and wrestling on TV.
- He has his own phone and sends us voice notes. he spends hours scrolling through Instagram. Feel free to follow him on @putt_putt_Dave. Don’t be surprised if he follows you and likes photos you posted 4 years ago.
- His job is cutting confetti for Hooray Weddings. Please get in touch if you would like to buy a bag. He is very proud of his job and refuses to take a day off (we have A LOT of confetti).
David’s favorite phrase and the thing that he has taught me is “oh well, that’s life!”