David and his daughter Valerie tell about the wonderful life they shared with David’s other daughter, Sharmi. Sharmi was born with Down syndrome and brought so much joy to her family. Sharmi has since passed away, but she has inspired her family members and others to serve and to love by her own actions.

Raising children with Down Syndrome

When Sharmi was born, David’s wife was clear on the choice she would make. “She’s my daughter; I want to take care of her.” They chose to keep Sharmi in their own home instead of placing her into the care of an institution, which brought them so much happiness down the road.

As the family grew older, they dedicated every Sunday evening as a movie night at David’s home. This tradition was important to Sharmi, who would often pull out the popcorn before her dad could get to it. She also loved to dance with her grandma. Valerie’s friends would often come over and play with both her and Sharmi. Valerie would explain Sharmi’s condition, and her friends were always kind to her sister.

Valerie said that children with Down syndrome “just want to be with and participate with everybody else as much as they can, and that’s how she was with our family; if we went, she went.” Valerie took her sister on many shopping trips throughout the years so that Sharmi could try on clothes.

People with Down Syndrome are Very Loving

“She just always had this pleasant way about her that just made people love her,” Valerie said. “These children are completely without guile. They love everyone. They’re continually positive. They overlook all of your flaws, and they just are wonderful to be around.”

One of Sharmi’s special gifts included serving other people. “I don’t think you ever go wrong when you serve somebody, and Sharmi would do anything for anybody that she could,” Valerie said. David also spoke about how Sharmi’s condition allowed his family and him to serve and teach her basic skills in return.

When A Loved One with Down Syndrome Passes Away

After her mother died and her siblings moved out of the house, Sharmi went to live with some other women with disabilities. Her health started to decline around age forty, but her family was always there for her. Valerie took her on shopping trips and brought her to family dinner as long as Sharmi was able.

It was difficult for Valerie to see her sister start to get Alzheimer’s disease, have seizures, and have to use more medication. Sharmi contracted pneumonia for a time as well. Throughout all of this, Valerie never stopped caring for her.

“You didn’t want her to go, but at the same time you did, because you knew that she was suffering and could no longer participate in the world,” Valeria said. “A couple of weeks later, she passed away very quietly and peacefully, which is what we wanted for her.”

Valerie and David still talked about Sharmi with love. They are very grateful that she lifted the spirits of everyone in their home throughout her life.

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