Let me introduce myself. I am a "Bubby", a "Grandma", a "Safta", and before all, a "Mommy".
When Dovi was born we were told that he had Down syndrome. I remember how hard the news hit us. "No!" I said to myself, "Not me, not us, not my child; it cant be true!"
After the initial shock passed we realized that this child was a new life, a new beginning, a challenge, bigger than if he was an ordinary child. Dovi was a special child indeed.
Soon after Dovi was born I was in a room with his eleven-year-old sister and I asked her, "Why do you think Hashem gave Dovi to our family?" She looked at me and said, "Im surprised at you Bubby. Dont you know we have very special parents? So who else should Hashem give such a special child to?" I deserved that. We learn our greatest lessons from our children. My granddaughter was telling me that since her parents are both deaf and are raising a wonderful family, Hashem knew that they could answer to the challenge of raising a baby with Down syndrome.
Dovi responded wonderfully to the love of his family and to the care of his therapists. He learned to sit up by himself, to walk, to eat with a fork and spoon. He even benched as he shukled back and forth in his chair.
But his steady progress was brought to a halt. Not long after his second birthday Dovi was hospitalized continually with a diagnosis of AML ? acute myelogenous leukemia.
Dovi didnt cry all the time. Oh yes, he did at the beginning, but after a while he grew accustomed to the painful procedures that he had to endure. One time, after many failed attempts to draw blood, his mother Frady (my daughter) said, "This is enough. Please call the doctors to do it." As the nurses were leaving one said to the other, "Remember how he used to cry? Now he just looks at us as if to say Just do what you have to do to help me get better".
Dovi was truly an exceptional child; he was special in every way, not considering his Down syndrome. Just he, Dovi, for who he was. He loved to color, make puzzles, look at books and he read too. He loved listening to Uncle Moishy tapes and watching his videos. He would wave, rock and roll to the music.
Everyone who had the zchus to meet Dovi will never forget him. He left a gift for each one of us for life. He shared his warmth, his sweetness, his love, and his caring and sharing. Nothing in his short life was for himself.
When Dovi heard other babies in the hospital crying he called to the nurse or whoever else was with him in the room at the time, and he pointed to his ears and eyes as if to say, "Go, dont you hear the baby?"
I will always picture him lighting up whenever I showed up, whether at home or in the hospital, and announced, "Bubbys here." One time in the hospital when he was too weak to turn or pick up his head, he still gave me his precious smile. I will always have a mental picture of Dovi lying in bed, hand under his head, his knees up and crossed comfortable, wiggling his toe with the red light (oxygen monitor) attached to it, as he seemed to say, "Hey, look at my funny red toe!"
Whoever passed his room automatically waved and called out to him, such was his attraction and charm. When Dovi smiled, the entire room lit up. Dovi is gone now. Hashem wanted him back. He was a wonderful and rare gift and gave to this Bubby and Zaidy so much joy and pleasure. He gave us so much love, warmth and strength. He showed us that we have to work hard to accomplish our goals. We cant sit back and wait for someone to hand it to us.
We miss your hearty laugh, Dovi. We miss your smile. The house is Kayn Ayin Horah full with your brothers and sisters, but I feel the void.
Dovi, you were a gift we will always cherish. You will live in our hearts and lives forever and ever.
You were an extraordinary child. You were a very special child. We love you, Dovi.
This article first appeared in issue #8 of Down Syndrome Amongst Us