I was seven years old when Marshall was born. A year or two later when the diagnosis was made, I bought a popular book written by Dale Evans and gave it to our parents. It was called "Angel Unaware." The title was taken from a verse in the New Testament which says, "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." (Hebrews 13:2) Evans' book was about the Down syndrome child she had with her husband, Roy Rogers.
Roy and Dale named their daughter Robin Elizabeth and their commitment to her (she died at the age of 2) strongly influenced our parents' decision to take care of Marshall, rather than institutionalize him. While it was sometimes difficult for them and later after their death, for me, we never regretted that decision because of the joy Marshall brought to our lives.
In an age when we discard the inconvenient and unwanted in order to pursue pleasure and a life free of burdens, this may seem strange to some. I recall a line from the long-running Broadway musical, "The Fantasticks": "Deep in December, it's nice to remember, without a hurt the heart is hollow."
Marshall Thomas' "hurts" filled a number of hollow hearts.
At the end of the Christmas classic "It's a Wonderful Life," George Bailey reads an inscription in a book given to him by Clarence, his guardian angel: "Remember, no man is a failure who has friends."
No life is a failure when it causes so many to care for others. At that my brother succeeded magnificently.
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