My sister is mentally retarded. I’m not sure what the ‘politically correct’ term would be for this these days. I’m pretty sure it’s “mentally handicap”. Retard literally means to slow down. At the end of the day that’s a pretty accurate description of my sister. She is 24 years old and has the mentality of a twelve year old. She isn’t stupid by any means. She just got slowed down. My 6-year-old son and she are such good friends. I fear the day he intellectually passes her.
Let me explain a little more about her condition.
She was born with hydrocephalus and by the time the doctors had diagnosed it brain damage had been done causing her to be retarded. When you meet her initially you don’t notice any disability. It’s only after she starts speaking that the signs show.
Remember that last party you went to? There was a drunk girl talking to you?
That’s my sister all the time; except, she’s not drunk.
The problem we’ve always had with my sister is not that she is retarded. It’s that she knows it.
She knows she is considered not as “smart” as everyone. The only reason she didn’t get her high school diploma was because she couldn’t pass the math HSA: by a few points.
She knows she doesn’t have “normal friends”. She won’t make friends with any kids that have any disability. In fact she often won’t speak to them because she thinks she’s better than them.
She knows she will never drive or have children.
The tears’ she has shed because she can’t be normal has been the core of my frustration for many years.
I know I will always have to help care for her after my parents pass. This fact does not bother me. What hurts me most is the fact that she can’t accept who she is. How beautiful she is. She has a heart of gold, jet black curly hair, a slim figure and a movie star smile. Why can’t she look in the mirror and see what I see? The fact is, to her its not what’s in the mirror that ails her so. It’s what’s in her head. I remember yelling at her one day because she said, “I can’t do it, I’m retarded.”
I don’t remember what she was saying she couldn’t do but I do remember when I heard her say those words I went nuts and yelled, “We’re all retarded! We just have to deal with it!” She looked at me confused, so I explained. My mom is dyslexic. My dad is clinically overweight due to an undiagnosed thyroid issue. I am 5 foot 3 inches and always need help reaching for things that are high up. My son goes to therapy because of his separated parents.
There are things in our lives we have no control over and we never will.
There are burdens which we or life places upon us which makes us a little slower some days.
Some days you feel so slow you can’t get out of bed and you think, “What’s the point?”
We’re all a little bit retarded.