Elinor Dashwood posts a link to a newspaper story about an old acquaintance who died saving the life of his son. The young man, who has Down’s Syndrome, fell into a septic tank, and the father, just home from Sunday Mass, went in to save him. The son is now in the hospital; the father was taken out unconscious and died soon after. From the story, it appears Mr. Vander Woude died as he lived: his was a life of service to God, to his family, to his neighbors, and to his country. He put the rest of us whiners to shame, and, I hope, has inspired many to live as he did. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed by the mercy of God rest in peace.
I wonder how many readers of the Washington Post, where this article appeared, shook their heads and said to themselves, “What a waste! A healthy man sacrificing his life to save a…” whatever the word is now for someone whom the wise in this age think should have been killed before birth. I hear that some of the defenders of abortion are saying that Governor Palin’s failure to kill her son Trig in the womb will set a bad example and encourage other mothers to bring children with Down’s Syndrome to birth. A few evenings ago I was talking to a friend, a man from my parish who is soon to be ordained as a permanent deacon. His son is a college athlete and aspiring teacher. As part of his education, he was taking a class on special education from a woman who works with the state headquarters of the Special Olympics, which is located in the same town as the college. She told him that they have hardly any Down’s children any more, because so many are aborted. This means, she said, that discrimination against those with this disability will only grow worse, because they will be so much rarer.
My friend knows what he is talking about. His youngest daughter, born a few years ago, has Down’s Syndrome. When she was born, he said, he was bitterly angry with God. “We’ve done the right thing; we’ve been open to life; we’ve had seven kids: and now you give me damaged goods!” He said he struggled with this. Then one day he laid his hand on the child to pray that she be healed, and he heard God say to him, “I’m not going to heal her; I’m going to heal you.” He says the change in him was instantaneous. He no longer saw damaged goods; he saw his daughter. She has been, he says, the greatest blessing in his life. He would die for her, too, I am sure.