Erik knew he was different from other people. He knew he had Down Syndrome but he didn't talk a lot about it and neither did the rest of us. But there were instances when it had to be brought into the conversation. Those times were hard because they involved having to give Erik reasons why he couldn't do something he really wanted to do. Normal things that people all around him did.
Over the years there were 3 he frequently mentioned.
1--he always wanted to be able to drive a car.
2--he always wanted to have his own place.
3--he always wanted to have a girlfriend or to get married.
Erik has been able to do 2 of the 3 things on this list. He had his own place for several years and he had a girlfriend.
When Erik was a teenager he met another girl with Down syndrome who he really liked, and she liked him. He thought she was so pretty. They would go to dances together and talk on the phone all the time. She and Erik were an item for years. But that ended and he told everyone he was looking for a new girlfriend!
Erik's desire to drive a car never materialized and this was a frustration for him. He thought it looked easy enough, that he should be able to do it. Our kind neighbor once let Erik sit in the driver's seat of his jeep and showed Erik the brake and the gas pedal. Well, because of that Erik thought he knew all he needed to know. Many conversations took place where Erik would tell someone in the family that he wanted to drive. We'd have to tell him we couldn't let him do it. He would ask why. The answer would be because it wouldn't be safe for him. Erik would be sad and sometimes angry. Sometimes he'd say, "I wish I didn't have Down syndrome".
In later years Erik started mentioning how much he wanted a wife. His buddy Brian had married and he saw how Brian loved having his wife. Erik thought he should too. That was a hard one to try to explain to him. Often we had to say we were sorry it wasn't possible for him to do what he wanted. We tried to tell him everyone has things like that in their lives, not just him. I don't want to imply it was hard all the time but to make a point that Erik has normal desires and disappointments. Those with Down syndrome are known for their happy and loving nature - and that was true for Erik the majority of the time.
But one thing that gave Erik a lot of joy was the fact that he was an uncle. He currently has 8 nieces and nephews. Above, taken last year, is a sweet picture of him with the youngest one. Uncle Erik's the best!