I’d had a lot of conversations with Doug over the years. At times understanding his speech was a challenge for me. After a second ask that he repeat himself, I turned to Dave for interpretation.
Dave and Kenny, who have been a committed couple for 40 years, are Doug’s home teachers. Doug has Down syndrome. I first met Doug when he was a little boy. We met at a local community center where, thanks to my junior high teacher Miss McCrae, I had my first introduction to volunteering.
Doug is 56 now. He still has those big eyes and, as he spoke to me, it seemed as though his smile were every bit as big as the one he always had as a little boy.
“He had an anniversary,” Dave explained.
On this summer evening, I had stopped to visit. Dave and Kenny were surrounded by pots of colorful flowers, relaxing on the front porch of their beautiful brick Tudor.
Dave went on to explain. “Kenny and I were celebrating our anniversary. Doug asked if he could have an anniversary, too. I researched the date he came to live with us. We decided that date would be the one to celebrate.” It was 26 year ago.
To have an anniversary is to observe that there was an event in your life worth remembering. I could only imagine all that Dave and Kenny had to celebrate on their anniversary. Kenny is black and Dave is white. For so many years as I celebrated wedding anniversaries of my own, I never appreciated the privilege that being straight and white gives me. I think about how simply because I was a woman married to a man I could have fostered children without my sexual orientation being questioned.
I think about anniversaries a fair amount. In just a matter of days I noted three. I joined our entire country as we marked the 18th year since the horror of 911. Our law firm celebrated our paralegal Michaela’s 5 year “Firmaversary” with a happy hour. And I honored the 8th anniversary of my husband John’s death.
Anniversaries help us to pause. Sometimes it will be to raise a toast in reflective memory; sometimes in a joyous cheer. When I remember to be in gratitude for what life has brought and taught me, and like Doug, I always like to ask, “Can I have cake?”
Is there an anniversary that helps you reflect on what you learned?
Is there a special day that you want to start celebrating each year?
What privileges in life can you be grateful for?