21 Stories for WDSD- Lessons Learned from my Brother Michael

March 2nd- Lessons Learned from my Brother Michael

I was in first grade when my brother Michael was born.  He is 58 years old, the youngest of six children and he has Down syndrome.  As the youngest child, my siblings and I doted on Michael.  We all fought to play with him and teach him new things.  My brothers loved playing sports with him like football and basketball in our back yard.  As Michael got older, my sister and I loved to pretend that we were his teachers and he was our star student.  All through the years the five of us thought that we were teaching him so many new things.  The irony in that is Michael has taught us more in his 58 years than we could ever teach him.

When people think of growing up with Down syndrome and what it must be like, they can get lost in all of the challenges that are faced and lose sight of the blessings that someone like Michael brings to the world.  That extra chromosome brought a little extra understanding, patience, and love to our lives on 1721 Robbins Place.

Ever since he was a toddler, Michael had a passion and love for music that he still has to this day.  He could sing you the words of any Frank Sinatra song that was ever written.  Some of his other favorite artists are Lou Monte, Bobby Darin, Dean Martin, and Louis Armstrong.  Singing and listening to his music is better than winning the lottery to Michael.  Give him his tapes and a bowl of chocolate ice cream and there isn’t a happier man in the world.  They say that the best things in life are free, and Michael is a testament to this.

One of the most profound, and perhaps the most important life lesson that Michael has taught my siblings and me, is how to love.  When I describe him to other people, I often say, “Michael is love.”  The love that Michael gives is innocent and child-like, joyful, and he expects nothing in return for it.  When he looks at people he doesn’t see race, gender or ethnicity.  He loves without judgment and without reservation.  I have seen some of the coldest hearts melt into butter upon meeting Michael because he is THAT SPECIAL.  His spirit, sense of humor and lovable personality are a gift to all who know him.

As Michael struggles in the winter of his life, he is still our teacher and we are still his students.  He will never stop giving us life lessons and for that we are eternally  grateful.

About the Author:  Teesie Bonk lives in Hockessin, Delaware with her husband John and her brother Michael McNesby.  She has three grown children, Michael Pat, Shawn and Meghan.  Teesie and John, along with her siblings and in-laws,  Joe and Sharon McNesby, Jerry and Debbie McNesby, Danny McNesby and Trish and Jay Milewski are Michael’s caregivers and biggest fans.