See Me as Your Friend

Pat and Jane have been friends for a long time, so far back that Pat can’t even remember when it all started. Pat had been a family friend of Jane’s family over thirty years ago, but when Jane’s mother passed away, Pat sensed a void she could fill and a wonderful friendship took root. Says Pat, “When her mother passed away, she needed an outside person to be able to give her the attention that she deserves.” Then Jane’s father also passed away, and their friendship deepened further and has been a source of comfort, reassurance, loyalty, and guidance.

Like clockwork, Pat has been picking up Jane for either breakfast or lunch every Saturday for at least twenty years. They are often joined by one or more of Pat’s five children, their children and spouses, and most often their dogs. “There can be just the two of us, or there could be twelve – it just depends,” says Pat. Jane knows everyone well including all the dogs’ names and even their birthdays. She’s a good sport because “she’s really a cat person.” Jane’s group home was also home to a cat for many years which she adored.

“She takes me every Saturday,” says Jane. “I’m glad.” The pair make their way to local restaurants and often stop for a bit of shopping. Says Jane, “My favorite places are Village Inn for eggs and coffee and then Target.” Says Pat, “wherever we go, Jane always sees someone she knows, she’s very social. She always introduces me as her sister.” In fact, Jane will often stay the weekend with Pat for special holidays like Christmas Eve and her birthday. Says Pat, “Jane is part of the family now,” so the association isn’t far off.

Recently, Jane’s Quality Intellectual Disabilities Professional reached out to Pat because she had refused a mammogram test because the experience had frightened her. It happened that Pat also had a mammogram test that week, so she was able to share that although it might be a bit uncomfortable, it was over quickly, and very important. That assurance made all the difference and catalyzed Pat’s interest in helping support Jane in her healthcare decisions as her guardian or power of attorney. “I want to be able to back up her decision-making for her healthcare choices and know that she’s followed through.”

Irrespective of how or when the friendship started, it has become more and more symbiotic as the years have gone by. “It’s good for both of us, she gives as much as she gets. She’s a wonderful addition to my life.”

Throughout the month we will be sharing more stories on three themes; see me as your neighbor; see me as your co-worker; and see me as your friend. You can post what inclusion means to you by tagging The Arc of the Quad Cities Area (@ARCQCA) and using hashtags #DDAware, #DDAwareness, and #InclusionMatters



Picture caption: Jane (left) and Pat (right) take a rest while visiting a park.

Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month highlights how people with and without disabilities can come together to form strong communities, one friendship at a time.