Star-shaped pasta soup for the soul.
by Ninfa Hayes.
When I was a little girl we went on a trip to visit my dad's Auntie and her family.
I don't remember much about it, apart from the long hours in the car, and being totally knackered when we finally arrived there.
One thing I remember though, is meeting my Great Auntie Rosina.
I had never met anyone with DS before, and didn't really understand her condition.
To me she looked very sweet and timid and looking back, I now feel as if she was a young soul in an old body.
I'd never heard of her before. She was my dad's auntie, on his father's side, the youngest, but she lived with her older sister and never really participated in any of the family occasions.
Again, looking back I suppose there was a little shame in having a member of the family that was “different”.
As a child, I didn't see it that way.
Rosina was the sweetest soul you'll ever meet. On the day we arrived with my mum, dad and my little brother, who must've been no more than 4 or 5 years old, she roamed around the kitchen for a bit and produced the most amazing little pasta soup I have ever tasted.
She had made it for herself, and knowing us children would be hungry and tired, she's proudly made some more for us.
I'll never forget her smile as she watched us devour the soup. It was made with tiny star shaped pasta, and she'd added some cheese that had melted, making it creamy and yummy.
For the rest of our visit she was quiet and retired, and didn't really interact with anyone, but then I don't remember anyone else paying her much attention, which is sad.
I know she was well cared for, but I wish that, at the time, there had been more that the family could have done for her.
I don't remember many things from that particular trip, but that soup and my Great Auntie's smile are as clear and vivid today as they were back then.
As an adult today, I know more about DS and have met many incredible people that deal with it every day.
My lovely neighbour has a little girl with DS that loves Doctor Who and playing with dolls; Misty, my friend and Bookaholics General, has Kirsten, a girl with a smile that can melt your heart.
I know there is much prejudice around the world about people with disabilities.
I'm glad I don't think that way and can look at people for who they are and what they do, and not for what they look like.
I'm glad I don't judge anyone because they struggle to complete tasks that “normal” people find simple and easy.
Whatever difficulties there are for people with DS, they are people. They love, feel and they have likes and dislikes, just like everyone else.
If I have a wish it's that I'll always look at people the way I looked at my Great Auntie that day.
She wasn't like me, but she sure made the best pasta soup in the world :)