Day Writing by Heather Hamilton-Maude: Holly Mae
My sister Holly celebrates her 24th birthday on May 18. She was born three months premature, with Down syndrome, and we still take her birthday’s seriously. Her request, each year, is a party with her family, cake, and presents (no specific list, just presents).
In light of her birthday, it seems fitting to share some stories she stars in.
We will begin with the day she and my brother, Kyle, were waiting in line at a store. They were behind a guy Kyle said looked as though he lived in a gym, and only left for the occasional protein shake and to lift one-ton trucks for fun. As they stood there, Holly pipes up, asking, “What’s up with that guy?”
Kyle tried to shush her, and I believe said a quick prayer the man was either deaf, or had a sense of humor. Holly, meanwhile, continued, “Doesn’t he know, earrings are for GIRLS!”
Kyle didn’t know what to do, and was kind of looking for a hole to climb into, when the guy just grinned and carried on. Disaster averted.
On another occasion, Kyle got pulled over. He asked Holly to make sure her seatbelt was on right, which was something she could do just fine. However, by the time the cop made it to their window, Holly had managed to nearly hang herself in her seatbelt, in a highly conspicuous manner, and was dramatically asking Kyle for help.
While preg-checking one fall, Holly was running the sliding gate at the end of my Aunt and Uncle’s alley. A heifer on up the alley spun out, and slung a loose pile of cow manure. A big clump landed perfectly, nearly covering Holly’s face. She started to blubber up, when I told her if she cried it would get in her mouth. She immediately stopped and pursed her lips together, only to start tearing up and wobbling her lip again. We repeated the process a handful of times before getting the manure off, and as I struggled not to laugh at her predicament. Today, this is one of her favorite stories to tell.
Our family toured some country with a very long-winded man once, and all three of us kids were well past bored. Holly was sitting between my dad and the talkative guide, when she piped up and asked, “Can we take him home now?” I don’t think the man understood her, however, my dad replied with, “Are you being nice?” in the tone that meant knock it off. She sweetly replied that she was, of course. Kyle and I were struggling not to laugh out loud in the back seat, as she had perfectly voiced what we were all wondering.
If you aren’t around her much, Holly is difficult to understand when she speaks. She often hauled hay with my dad, and one day they gave a man a ride from the field to his vehicle. He had a speech impediment, and halfway across the field, Holly seriously asked my dad, “What’s wrong with that guy?” The irony and humor weren’t lost on my dad.
In conclusion, we will provide a bit of Holly wisdom. Following the Range Beef Cow Symposium in Rapid City several years ago, we were all sitting around dinner discussing what we had heard, and whether we thought it was accurate/applicable/feasible/etc… In her usual manner, Holly waved her hands and got our attention so we could hear her thoughts. She then said, “Cows. Cost. Money,” with a big grin. And, in a single sentence, summed up an entire, expensive and in-depth two-day event.
Happy birthday to Holly. May everyone get to experience the stories that result from knowing a special needs person.