Don't Sing Any Sad Songs: A Down Syndrome Daughter's Joyful Journey
Copyright © 2000 by Rosalie B. Icenhower

Rosalie Icenhowen About the Author
Rosalie Icenhower has had several careers, as a teacher, principal, and writer. She currently teaches adult enrichment classes for the local school district, speaks for women's groups, and writes feature stories and poetry. Rosalie is happily married to her husband Paul, and has two daughters and two sons.
Don't Sing Any Sad Songs: A Down Syndrome Daughter's Joyful Journey
Chapter 6, Folk Songs and Legends

     A few of Becky's escapades over the years have become absolutely legendary, worthy of a new round of Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. Sometimes they have been completely innocent or inadvertent, Other times her wonderful timing and sense of humor certainly have made our folk songs of live memorable.
     Several of them have been in connection with church services.
     Every couple of years, Becky loses her hair. I don't mean she sheds a few hairs on her collar or bed pillow. Like many other children and adults with Down syndrome, she literally loses every hair on her head for a month to a year at a time. Then, with or without medical treatment, just as mysteriously as her hair disappears, it begins to grow back, often with a slightly different shade and texture. How long it will stay intact, nobody knows.
     People around town were used to Becky's hair loss and paid little attention to it. But in parks, playgrounds, or restaurants, concerned strangers sometimes wondered aloud if she were receiving chemotherapy for cancer.
     Attempting to keep her looking as normal as possible when we were away from home, we'd bought a child-size wig for her when she was four years old and bald as a boulder.
     We were on vacation and so were in a different church the first Sunday she wore the wig. The sanctuary was long and narrow. There was no air conditioning. Not the slightest hint of a breeze was stirring, though the narrow, arched windows were open. And it was nearly too hot to breathe! All around us, women opened their purses and whipped out colorful paper fans. Men shed their blazers, loosened their neckties and collars. That didn't help much, so some of the fellows self-consciously folded their bulletins and wagged these improvised coolers under their perspiring chins.
     Halfway through the service, Becky had had enough. That wig was just too uncomfortable! Without a second thought, she flipped it off her head. It sailed straight up toward the vaulted ceiling and fluttered down again.
     A startled lady in the row ahead of us squealed, "A bat!" Every neck craned to see. Little gasps of excitement rippled though the pews around us. I calmly reached up and plucked the fluttering brown wig out of the air and neatly tucked it in my purse.
     Jonathan, sitting to my left, nearly had a conniption trying to stifle his giggles. None of us dared to look at one another for fear we'd burst out laughing. But we've always wondered what those startled parishioners thought when they saw me slip a "live bat" into my purse!
     Our family agrees that Becky's most infamous "church story" occurred when we were visiting dear friends living a stone's throw from the Mount Hermon Christian Conference grounds near Santa Cruz, California.
     One evening we decided we'd go hear a well-known professor from Dallas Seminary. We'd arrived at the auditorium a bit late, and the usher located the only seating available where all six of us could sit together—in the very front row.
     The speaker preached his heart out, reaching the climax of his sermon with a rhetorical question, "Is there anyone, anywhere who can honestly say, 'I have never sinned?'"
     His biggest mistake was in making a slight dramatic pause. Five-year-old Becky seized the moment. She popped out of her chair, waving both arms, shouting, "I can! I can!"
     A surprised hush fell over the audience, and then a tumultuous roar of laughter erupted. The good professor stepped back, mouth agape. He looked positively stunned for a second or two; then he began to laugh also until tears ran down his cheeks.
     "Well," he said, wiping his eyes when things finally quieted down, "is there anybody else?"

  Revised: May 31, 2001.