Son with Down Syndrome brings plenty of joy

I was 41 when Matt was born. Both of my doctors took turns after he was born, sitting on my hospital bed telling me all about Down Syndrome, which is what Matt was born with. They advised me to sign Matt over to the state, and the state would place Matt in an institution or “colony,” as they called it back then. My husband took me home to think it over, leaving Matt behind at the hospital.

That night, I had a dream that there was a wall blocking out the very thought of such an idea. After two days, we went back to the hospital and brought our baby boy home. We have never been sorry since, only blessed beyond measure.

Our farm provided an ideal place for Matt to grow up. Out on the hillside, we could see him in the pasture, watching over the cows or sitting in our yard by his dog, Brownie, waving his flag. What a peaceful scene! We had five other children, mostly in their teens, and my husband farmed. So there was plenty of help to take care of Matt. So I went back to work in the hospital office in Shawano, a 2-10 p.m. shift. I could get all my housework done and supper prepared in the mornings before leaving for work.

When Matt became school age, he attended early childhood groups and then continued with special education schooling. Even today at age 48, Matt participates in group activities for all ages at the curative workshop held at the Civic Center in Shawano.

When we retired, we spent the winters in Florida. We soon took up residency in Florida so that Matt could get in on the same type of programs there. He attended a workshop near the college in Avon Park. He relished his small paychecks for piece work. He was so proud to bring home a paycheck each month.

His teachers back home said they couldn’t wait for Matt to come back to Wisconsin as he was “the life of the party.” Matt likes to entertain! He can impersonate all sorts of TV stars, doing Gomer Pyle to a “T.” His routine included Sanford, Archie Bunker, Hulk Hogan and, his all-time favorite, “Fonzie” from Happy Days, and more.

Today, his brother has custody of Matt. When Larry would come home from work after an especially stressful day, he would say, “Where’s Matt? I just want to see Matty. Matty opens his arms to embrace you, and just fills you with peace and love.” His gift to us all!