Bar is my nephew. He walks with difficulty. His speech is garbled. He frequently repeats himself. His eyes will not meet yours. When he is worried, he sucks his hand. When he is frustrated, he bites it.
Yet, Bar is much more than his physical and intellectual challenges. He likes to laugh. He tells “knock-knock” jokes. He dances. He loves to spending time with girls. He hates turnips. He invites everyone he meets to come swimming. His memory is astonishing, recalling the details of family outings that took place when he was just a boy.
Years ago, Bar might have spent his adult life in a large institution, shut off from the rest of society. Today, however, he lives in a small group home in Western Massachusetts where those with and without disabilities reside together as an extended family. The rhythm of each day revolves around land work and animal husbandry. Bar contributes by transporting gardening material, compost and soil back and forth in the household wheelbarrow. By any measure, Bar’s life is rich and full.