I must have ten or eleven. I would have been off-track. Dad, along with his daughters, ate lunch at Taco Bell. Although I loved the restaurant, I almost dreaded going there. We might see him. Ralph was an employee of the restaurant, wiping tables or sweeping the floors. Although Dad always chatted with Ralph, to me, Ralph was awkward, borderline scary. Ralph had Down syndrome.
Was I scared because Ralph was different from me?
I’ve obviously grown up. I don’t know if it’s being disabled myself now, or just maturity, but I so admire people with any disability, especially an intellectual one. Part of my old thinking could have been because I didn’t know anyone with Down syndrome. But thanks to shows like “Born This Way,” which I highly recommend (Tuesday at 8 on A&E, though it’s on haetis right now), or inclusion in our schools, I’m glad the old “stigmas” attached to people with any intellectual disability are slowly going away.
I so wish I could find Ralph. I would give him a big hug.