The Grapevine: Wishing Cousin Mark a Very Happy Birthday

By Rosalyn Queen Alonso on August 01, 2017 from The Grapevine via

Approximately 34 years ago I was at my son Marty's wedding and my cousin Margie took me aside to tell me she was pregnant.
She lived next door to us and her older son was about the same age as my twin sons.  We were cousins and we all grew up together as one family, sharing things and attending events together as the boys went to school together and played sports together. 
It was hard to believe that we were going to have a baby around after all these years but we were all happy and waiting for its arrival.
The baby arrived in late July and it was a beautiful little boy.  In a day or two we were advised that the baby was diagnosed with Down Syndrome. We all accepted the diagnosis, knew that we had a very special child and made a promise to make the best of the situation. Over the years, we all watched Mark grow into a loving child.  He became a vital part of our families. 
As fate would have it, his mother became ill and passed away when Mark was in his early twenties. His father took over and did a wonderful job in caring for him.  But fate would present yet another challenge when Mark's father passed away.  With the passing of his parents, he was left to the care of his brother, who himself was challenged with problems with addiction. We sometimes felt that Mark was taking care of his brother.
After a couple of years, his brother died. That left Mark alone from his immediate family and in the care of two cousins.
As much as everyone tried, we were always worried that something in the form of an accident would happen to him, so we knew that we had to legally get him an administrator.  Then we needed to find him a home with supervision where he would be safe.  He is now living in a wonderful group home where he is cared for and protected.
Now the moral of this story is that anyone who has never had the opportunity to interact with a child with Down Syndrome has really been denied a privilege.  A child with Down Syndrome is a special child.  They are so caring and loving. 
In one way or another, all of us who have had the privilege of being involved in Mark's life.  We all feel he has supplied us with so much more that we have for him.  We've watched him grow and have tried to help him through the few problems he has encountered. He will never know the joy he has supplied us. I urge all my readers to take the opportunity to get to know a special needs child; you will never be sorry.
This past week my kids had a surprise birthday party for Mark.  There were approximately 30 people present, mostly relatives and friends. The party was held at the Lang cabin. Ruby Oldaker and her daughter Amy Sponaugle were in charge of getting Mark there.  He thought he was going to a birthday party for someone else.
Imagine the look on his face when he looked at the WVU-themed birthday cake with "Happy Birthday Mark!" written on the top! This was one way of letting this young man know just how much we all care for him.
I have never received a thank you that meant so much to me as when Mark kissed me, thanked me and said “Rosie, I love you!” He is already planning next year's party.
Hope you are enjoying the summer and until next week” Now You Have Heard It Through The Grapevine.”

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