Dancing in heaven

At one point in my work on the book on Uncle Melrose, I was using a working title of “Dancing in Heaven.” That’s because I fantasize that my deceased uncle, who had a profound intellectual disability and severe physical limitations, is now dancing and talking with abandon.

I imagine these things because he could do neither when he was living at a state school or a group home or when I took him on outings. He could only say a few words and he was so bent with scoliosis that he could barely walk. He was hugely frustrated that he couldn’t do more.

Later in his life when I knew him, he let me know he was frustrated by shouting “No!” and stomping his foot in protest. But those incidents were the exceptions. Mostly, he liked to hug people and go for rides in the car. He liked to go to McDonald’s and eat hamburgers and he just liked hanging out with me and doing nothing.

A better way

I thought of my uncle when I read Dr. Dennis McGuire’s article on “If People With Down Syndrome Ruled the World.”  As Dr. McGuire points out, if we lived in such a world, there would be more dancing and more hugging.

And there would be more order. Doors and cabinets left ajar would be closed. The trash would be emptied regularly and chairs that were not in their proper place under the dining table would be adjusted. People like Uncle Melrose* would make sure of these things.

After getting to know my Uncle Melrose and spending time with him, I’m positive the world would be a better place if people like him were in charge.

*Uncle Melrose did not have Down Syndrome, but he exhibited many of the loving qualities of the people described in Dr. McGuire’s article.