Goodnight, Irene, goodnight.

I’m tired. I’m working a lot, and when I’m not I’m thinking about it. So I thought I’d pull a lazy one tonight and just post somebody else’s content. Patricia E Bauer always has plenty of news, thought I, and she won’t miss it if I pinch some. And thus I got introduced to Irene.

I shouldn’t moan about tiredness.

When her daughter was born with Down syndrome in 1942, doctors told Irene to institutionalize her because she was hopelessly handicapped and probably wouldn’t live more than a few years.

Mrs. Henry disregarded their advice, and instead took her daughter home and helped to start a school for children with intellectual disabilities.

Putting mentally handicapped children in an institution, rather than having them grow up at home, was a common practice when Mrs. Henry gave birth to her daughter, Judith, but she was having none of it, her son Albert said.

“She’s my daughter, and I’ll take care of her,” she told the doctor, according to her son.

Daughter Judith Martin lived with her parents until 1991, when she died at age 50. Mrs. Henry’s husband died the same year.

On the second to last day of 2008, Irene C. Henry died in Chicago aged 91.

I do not thank the people who came before me nearly enough. They didn’t enjoy anything like the same level of acceptance or support that we as parents and grandparents do, and going up against the Wisdom of the Day was a lot tougher for Irene. But that determination gave Judith a full life with her parents for fifty years.

I owe you, Irene. Sleep peacefully with them.


13 comments on “Goodnight, Irene, goodnight.

  1. enc says:

    Cool post. I’m glad times have changed. I’m glad people aren’t rejecting like they used to.

    I’m also very glad to read that you’re working. Hooray for that.

  2. Becky says:

    I too am glad that times have changed. Reading this blog reminds me of a book I just finished reading titled, “That Went Well…, ” by Terrell Dougan. The book is a personal memoir of a family who chose not only to keep their little girl with special needs at home, but to rally the community and the state to act on behalf of all children with special needs. It is an amazing book.

  3. Emma Mc Ivor says:

    you said it ,all the best for the coming year nick , emma

  4. Christine says:

    Great post, and I too am glad to hear that you are busy with work.

    I wonder what legacy our generation of parents will leave?

  5. NAN P. says:

    One very strong message that came out of the (first ever) DSI Grandparents Information Day this week was this: what used to be concidered as the exception for a person with DS before is now almost the norm: having surgery (for a long time, it was a cruel reality that young children were not even offered heart surgery “because they wouln’t live long anyway”), learning to communicate, learning to read and write, going to main stream school, going to university.

    What is the exception today will be the norm for most in 10 or 20 years time. Like Irene, we need to keep pushing.

    Thank you for this Nick.

  6. good to hear your busy working…but then it’s always one of those love/hate things isn’t it?;)

    Great post. When I read stories like this, I’m so glad that someone had the courage to go against the grain. Then I think, what kind of person she must of been (as in what would I have done); I think, though, that we all have that (strength) in us, given the right motivation. At least I hope so, for when it counts.

  7. kayla says:

    Hey I hope everything is going ok with you guys? I havent heard from you in what seems quite awhile. I have been working alot and am finally getting over all of that stuff that has been going wrong in the last week. A lot of because I had not had any sleep for about a week straight, I don think this week will be to bad but starting this coming up Friday it is going to exhaust me I wont have a day off for like 7 days straight, I am hoping this one pays off and Lucian has his dilation this Friday. I am still having problems getting him to go to the bath room I think I might try increasing his diet with a little extra juice and water through out the day through his g tube. It is hard because he wont eat anything by mouth,. I just wont have anything to do with i right now and that freaks me out. I wish there was a way to get him into eating. I dono. But have a happy sunday and i wish you the best.

  8. just stopping by to say howdy! 🙂

  9. Dolce says:

    Wow. I just stumbled across your blog today and found it incredibly touching. My husband and I are having our first baby this July and while I believe everything is going well, one can never be certain. You make uncertainty a lot easier the bare.

  10. Cal says:

    I feel like I’ve read this post 6 times (probably because I have) and every time it gets me. Lovely work, even if you felt like it was a cop out.
    Miss you and Jacob! Give him a raspberry on that little belly of his for me? Pleaseandthankyouverymuch.

  11. Nick McGivney says:

    enc – always nice to hear from you. Times are better now, and long may it be thus.

    Emma – thanks for the wishes, and back at ya in spades.

    Chris – I think that we’re edging forward all the time. You certainly push me that way.

    Elbog and X Box – She inspired me alright.

    Nan P – And push we will.

    HGF – Thanks for stopping in. Irene Henry was obviously a woman with a proper backbone.

    Kayla – Keep up the good work. It’s not easy on any given day, but your strength is an inspiration.

    Cal – Jacob says howdy!

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