Friday, March 22, 2013

What About Bobby?

Yesterday was World Down Syndrome Day. And fittingly, it was also the day Bobby turned three months old.

You see, our baby boy was named after someone very special.  He's Brian's uncle, his mom's youngest brother. He's also Brian's godfather. And he also happens to have Down Syndrome.
His name is Bob. Robert Francis, to be exact. Just like our Bobby. Only their last names differ.

Brian had been plugging the name Bobby for quite some time. After we had William (who was named William for a multitude of reasons, one being that it's Brian's mom's maiden name: Williams) we had two girls in a row so the boy's name took a back seat. Which ended up being a good thing because I was able to mull the name Bobby over a little bit longer and learn to love it.

My problems with the name Bobby were this: I didn't love the name Robert. And Bob seemed like an old man's name. I liked the name Bobby well enough but wondered if he could carry that with him into adulthood.

Brian threw names at me like Bobby Darin and Bobby Knight and, my secret crush, Bobby Flay as examples of highly successful men who were known only as Bobby and not Bob. Over and over again he repeated the name Bobby Nash like he was the next rising football star. (It does kind of sound like it, doesn't it?)

And then, when Brian was away on a business trip, I watched a movie about the Kennedys. I fell in love with Bobby Kennedy and all his moral ways that were in the shadow of his more famous brother's personal missteps. As JFK was having affair after affair, Bobby and Ethel were deeply and happily in love. Together they had 11 children, the eleventh being born after his assassination. He also had much deeper Catholic roots, no doubt something he inherited from his devout mother.

OK, I later told Brian on the phone, I'm in. Bobby it is if we ever have another boy.

We kept the name top secret. Especially from his mom who we knew would be very emotional about it. It needed to be real. We couldn't tell her the name when it was just a hypothetical.

Recently Uncle Bob's health has been declining as is often the case when aging and Downs Syndrome intersect. People with Downs Syndrome have a much shorter life expectancy than those without. And while no one wants to admit it, we all know that at age 56, we don't have a whole lot of time left with Uncle Bob.
Bob is the youngest in a family of seven children.  The amount of offspring that have sprung from that family is crazy.  What's crazier is how close they all are.  One might mistake a cousin gathering as some sort of high school reunion.  And through it all Uncle Bob has held his position as the family mascot of sorts.  Everybody loves Bob and all his quirks.

Brian's Bob stories have become famous among our friends who don't know Bob.  At first it seems like Brian is teasing.  Or that he is insensitive to Bob's disabilities.  But after seeing Brian interact with Bob in the 13 years that I've known him it is now clear to me that Brian has nothing but unconditional love for this man.  What may seem like insensitive is actually just Brian treating Bob like he's another one of his best friends, disabilities unimportant.
Bob loves Coke Classics.  And McDonald's.  He loves all the Rocky movies and has Brian's knack for memorizing random movie lines.  He hates Tom Hanks and wearing his dentures.  And he's a crazy good poker player.  He's also the best baby-holder in the whole wide world.
Bob & Lucy
When our Bobby was born and we found out that he was definitely a he and that he would be named Bobby, Brian was ecstatic.  And he couldn't wait to get on the phone with his mom.  Her reaction was even more emotional than I could have imagined.
I'm going to say what a lot of people probably thought and never said.  It takes a lot of guts to name your son after a man who has Downs Syndrome.  I'm so glad Brian had the courage to do it.

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