Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The North Side of Down

 
 
"There are two powers in the world; one is the sword and the other is the pen. There is a great competition and rivalry between the two. There is a third power stronger than both, that of the women."
- Muhammad Ali Jinnah
 
It has been a rough couple of years:  Rougher even than my divorce, or the subsequent foreclosure of my home.  What made the past few so difficult was the loss of my parents, magnetized by the suffering of my poor sister, Amanda.  She has Down's syndrome and became the object of a feud between two siblings vying for guardianship.  Amanda had made her choice, but the entire family was still dragged through an excruciating legal process that lasted for nearly two months, immediately following my Dad's death.
 
During these weeks I devoted nearly all my time attempting to comfort and reassure her.  Though terribly depressed, grieving, confused and scared, she handled the situation with tremendous dignity.  She handled it better than I did.  I was furious.
 
Amanda is in her forties.  She spent her whole life living with my parents in the remote Northern Michigan village.  She was their buffer, their companion, their servant (often unwilling), and their endless source of entertainment.  Amanda is a brilliant wit and, since she is universally underestimated, her snappy one-liners can ambush the innocent bystander.
 
For instance:
 
Me: Did you have a good birthday?
Amanda: Yes.
Me: I would hope so. THREE birthday cakes, jeesh...
Amanda: Yeah. Tomorrow it's back to normal food. Snickers and Milky Way.

One thing Amanda and I have in common is that we both love to write.  During those terrible weeks in 2013, we found solace in sharing our thoughts, and putting words on paper.  Even then, I saw the start of a book happening.  We were living it.  Every day that we were together, we made notes.  Often Amanda would initiate these sessions by saying, "Let's work on our book."

It brought tremendous comfort to both of us.  Now I am finding that most memoirs having to do with Down's syndrome are about babies, written by the parents...  People reeling from the reality of how their life will never be the same, and not in ways they expected.  But Amanda's story is one of later years, and hopefully will serve as a warning to folks about getting their affairs in order.  I hope that this story will spring from the ashes and help someone. 

The manuscript is in the final editing stages now; our story is told.  We are searching for a publisher, but teetering on the brink of indecision, as there are so many self-publishing options available.  Please follow us on Facebook for regular updates.

THE NORTH SIDE OF DOWN will describe, as no other book has, what life is like growing up with someone with Down's syndrome. It will show how sometimes those with the softest voice have the most to say. It will show how appearances can deceive, not only in those who seem simple, but in those who seem the most loyal. It will examine how the legal system can paralyze a disabled person in the wake of the loss of a guardian. Perhaps most importantly, it explains the concept of true forgiveness.


4 comments:

Elaine said...

Hi Nancy: Would you please let me know if you have a 2015 calendar coming out and where I can purchase? Thanks!

Nancy Bailey said...

Hi Elaine, What kind of calendar are you looking for? Wildlife art? Equine art? Clifford? Thanks, Nancy

Elaine L said...

Left you a reply but don't see it here. I am looking for a Clifford calendar. Big fan!

Nancy Bailey said...

Oh, thanks Elaine! Clifford's 2015 Calendar is here: http://www.zazzle.com/clifford_the_morgan_horse_wall_calendar-158973876120655459

For the most timely updates, you might consider following Clifford on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/cliffordthehorse