“Will I be home for Shabbos?” Yussie asked on the morning he was preparing for his excursion to camp.
“No, Yuss, remember that you will be at Mesorah for four Shabboses, and then you will come home.”
I remember being taught in elementary school that our days should always be looking forward to Shabbos. Yussie takes that teaching to the nth degree. Practically as soon as one Shabbos ends, he is already preparing for the following Shabbos—the food choices, that is . . .
This is Yussie’s second summer foray into an extended period of time away from home. Last summer was two straight weeks, and this summer we have increased to an entire month. An entire month without waking up to Yussie’s smiling face. Very difficult for the Lubin clan!
I believe we have devised an amazing way to keep track of Yosef Binyamin daily: The camp and Yachad (Yussie is mainstreamed in a typical bunk with the support of Yachad and his wonderful shadow named Meir) have been taking numerous pictures. On the Camp Mesorah website, we can always spot him in the daily photos doing some activity—he must be very photogenic. Someone from Yachad texts me specific pictures of Yussie almost daily so that a day does not go by without seeing his smiling face! He seems to truly be enjoying himself.
While Yussie is away at camp, the crew on the home front are preparing for his bar mitzvah. We all need new clothes for the event, and the meals for visiting relatives and friends must be planned. We finally are sending out the invitations—the bar mitzvah will take place on the first Shabbos Yussie returns from camp, Parashas Re’eh.
The timing of this milestone might seem a bit challenging. The Monday he returns from Mesorah is his actual Hebrew birthday. Ari Katz and the Mesorah crew have assured me that he will have an aliyah that morning, and there will be celebrating in honor of the occasion. The next day he will be leaving with his friends at Avnet Woodmere for Club Get Away for one night. He will be home by Wednesday, with a couple of nights to rest up for his bar mitzvah that Shabbos.
The week before Yussie left for camp, we quickly purchased him new suits for his big day. More than one suit was in order, since if he wears one on Friday night, he will need a nice clean one for Shabbos morning. No chances will be taken of his not looking his absolute best when he pronounces his berachos over the Torah on Shabbos morning.
Yussie was born almost 13 years ago on the last day of Avnet Country Day. I must admit that I took off the day before, and the last day. It was the first time I had missed the last day of camp, but greeting Yussie into the world was a worthy excuse!
I can’t believe how the time has swiftly passed. When he was born, we did not know what to expect. We had not had prior experience or training in trisomy 21 (more commonly known as Down syndrome). Those first few days, weeks, and months were quite frightening. What did the future hold for this adorable baby? Would he ever walk? Would he ever talk? How would our family adapt to this “special” newcomer?
There are a lot of preconceived notions about people with Down syndrome. I must say that Yussie has surpassed many of the limitations that we originally thought he would have: he walks (quite fast); he talks (sometimes too much); and he has never lost his cuteness! He makes the room light up wherever he goes. He has taught my family, and those around him, so many life lessons!
As we begin the Hebrew month of Av in which we celebrate the month of Yosef Binyamin’s birth, let us all smile at the picture that I have included this week—after all, a picture is worth a thousand words! v
Phyllis Joy Lubin is an attorney with Maidenbaum & Sternberg, LLP, who resides in Cedarhurst with her husband, Leonard. They have six children: Naftali, Shoshana, Rivka, Rochel, Yosef, and Lea and a daughter-in-law, Nina. The author welcomes your questions and comments at MothersMusings@gmail.com.