Family, Uncategorized

Happy Anniversary… to us! Or, “How my siblings with Down syndrome helped me choose my husband”

Jennifer Meyers and Peter Bekins, May 27, 2000

Ten years ago today my husband, Peter Bekins, and I were married in a little church in Gainesville, Florida. Pete is an amazing person and I am so thankful for his love and committment these 10+ years. 

We were friends in college at the University of Florida. Pete would come over to hang out, gladly playing endless games of “Davy Crockett and the Indians” with two of my siblings, April 10 and Jacob 5. Pete AKA Davy was frequently tripped by the “Indians,” April and Jacob,  and subsequently tied up with a jump rope. He always acted like the attack was a complete surprise.  

While dating I lived at home just a few miles from UF’s campus. Pete would join other college students and random tag-a-longs on Sunday afternoons for lunch. My parents had this thing about adopting people even if my brothers and I got tired of it. He patiently sat through our lunch and family devotion time with the rest of us. This included “visuals” because as my mother said,  

“Children with Down syndrome learn visually.”  

Visuals during family devotions included (and I am not kidding):  

  • A plastic figure of Jesus (on a model Mount of Olives and attached to fishing line) being raised into the clouds (tulle on the chandelier) for Ascension Sunday.
  • The three wise men moving methodically through the house only to reach our nativity set in time for Epiphany, and not one day before.
  • Red, Orange, and Yellow crepe paper tied to the three ceiling fans in the large Florida room of our house representing tongues of fire on Pentecost Sunday. Flick on those fans and you had some very realistic sounding flames!
  • Watching my father wear a crown from a childhood play as he portrayed King Herod pronouncing death on the infant boys of Israel after the birth of Christ.

These times were followed by a lecture to the three oldest of our family (me, Derek, and Danny) after we rolled our eyes (for the millionth time) and complained about how ridiculous it all seemed (for the billionth time) – not to mention the sheer embarrassment of it all when you are 20, 18, and 15. It was again emphasized,   

“I told you children with Down syndrome learn visually. How do you think they’re going to learn about God?!”   

“Okay Mom, but can you tone it down in front of my boyfriend/girlfriend/rest of the outside world? – Ugh!”  

Ah yes. My household was a wonderful testing ground for my future husband. If you can make it through the antics of three kids with Down syndrome, two teen-aged brothers, some interesting parents…then it must be love.  

Through that year we were friends and later started dating, Pete didn’t complain. In fact he told me to relax and let my mom do what she wanted. He explained that people outside the family weren’t as annoyed or embarrassed as we were. Who would have guessed?  

Pete’s  patience with us all was and is amazing. We still meet weekly at my parents house, now in Cincinnati, for family dinner. Let me tell you, conversations including 3 people with Down syndrome age 22, 13, and 17 and their nephews 5 and 2 can be a train wreck – or hilarious – it depends on your attitude and willingness to participate. Pete’s is always good (mine, not so much – I’m still learning to relax).  

Like me, my family has fallen for Pete. His calm head, his dry humor, and his dedication to our family – all reasons we love him, and we’re glad he’s made it these 10+ years. Me especially. So here’s to many more years of visual supports, eye rolling, and surprise attacks – Thank you Pete for loving and accepting us all.

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