DEAR PET LADY,
That was a good letter about Xena the kitten [The Pet Lady, Nov. 1], and your reply to A.L. was right on: "Differently abled" is a good phrase. My grandson, now 14, has Down's syndrome. He has signed since he was tiny; his ability to communicate clearly in our traditional fashion, verbally oriented, is fraught with problems and frustrations on all sides. But anyone who can understand ASL who has watched him dreaming and signing at the same time can see that his dreams (and his daytime stories) are complex, imaginative, and sometimes very funny.
Few of his family and friends have, in 14 years, learned even a few of the signs that were so easy for him to learn (a couple of months ago he learned the Scout oath in two run-throughs, with nine new signs—I still can't remember it in either English or Sign). His family and friends are extremely nice people, many of whom could be considered in the "highly intelligent" category, but most don't sign, and they aren't considered "dumb as a brick" because they can't/ won't. The obligation to conform seems to rest with those in the minority, and both the majority and the minorities lose in the process. Almost everyone (except maybe dead white men) has faced discrimination at one time or another: women, gays, racial minorities, religious minorities, fat people, bald people, blind, deaf, short, old, differently abled. The hope is that at least these victims of unkindness will be more understanding or sympathetic of other misunderstood minorities.
DEAR FOND GRANDMOTHER CLIN CANNON,
Speaking of good letters, dear Fond Grandmother Clin Cannon, the one you have penned has broken the heart of the Pet Lady into at least 14 pieces and then mended it back together again. The Pet Secretary reminds the Pet Lady to remind the dear readers of the case of Xena the kitten, a little fur friend who was proving to be a slow learner and possessed of many unusual habits of grave concern to her human, "At a Loss." The Pet Lady divined from the tenor of the note that A.L. was, unbeknownst to A.L. herself, quite attached to small Xena despite calling her stupid and offering her up for adoption. Lo and behold, A.L. shortly wrote again [The Pet Lady, Nov. 8] to confirm that Xena was, with patience and time, becoming a better behaved feline and that she would not dream of parting with the small, special cat. A.L. signed her latest missive "No Longer at a Loss," noting that Xena was a source of amusement with her funny antics and a fine companion to her other cat.
You are a wonderful and thoughtful Fond Grandmother indeed, Clin Cannon, to extrapolate from this little drama to the poignant story of your grandson and beyond to how we might all better love one another, and the Pet Lady raises her glass to you and your important reminder. Cheers to you, your grandson, Xena and co., the differently weighted and pated, and, well, hell, everyone!
The Pet Lady
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