Down Syndrome International
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Joanne’s family from the US

Joanne with her family

Almost 60 years ago, 58 to be exact, the tenth and final addition to my family arrived. Tiny. Voiceless. Joanne. How could I know she would be the one to hold my family together for decades? Or that she would define each of her siblings, completely, especially me.

Joanne as a child

Joanne as a child

Much of what I understand about joy and suffering began with Joanne; and most certainly, what I understand about love.

I miss her everyday. Her determination and independent attitude. Her concern for others, genuine and innocent. Her love of life, holidays and music,Starbucks and junk food. But mostly her love for each of us, her brothers and sisters. All nine of us. She would admit, privately to me, that I was her favorite, but I know she whispered those same words to all the others. And I loved that because that was one of the ways she held my family together.

On January 1, 2020, Joanne died. We surrounded her, held her and held each other. Just like she would have wanted us to do.

I miss her everyday and always will.

Joanne and Verna

Joanne and Verna

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