Happy 44th Birthday wishes January 19, 2011 to my brother, Paul Mand. What is the big deal about my brother and turning 44? Paul has Down syndrome. Back in 1967 when he was born, I had no concept of Down syndrome. I found out years later that the doctors had suggested to my mom that she institutionalize him. Thank God she didn't listen. I just knew that my mom had just given birth to my baby brother and he wasn't coming home right away. He was very sick. There was a time when we didn't think Paul would make it home. When he finally did, he was very sickly and thin looking. For the first few years, I had no idea that my brother was any different from any other baby brother except that he had been sick. All I knew was that he was MY baby brother and even though I really, really wanted a baby sister since I had two older brothers, I still loved him. As I got older I started to notice the stares from other people when we went out. Even my friends would ask what was wrong with him? My parents explained about the extra chromosome, which causes Down syndrome. How could my brother be what was called "retarded"? He brought so much happiness to our family. I learned to hate the word. Retarded. When I would hear someone use the word, I would cringe and still do all these years later. I came to the realization that even though the stares bothered me, they never really bothered Paul. He was content with who he was. I wondered what it would be like to be in Paul's shoes where you really didn't care what others thought of you. To be excited for the very simple things in life, like going to a movie or watching a horror movie on TV. To not have everyday worries about money and life. Where is Paul now? Paul graduated from Einstein High School in Maryland and went on to get a job with a Marriott Courtyard in Silver Spring, Maryland where he is still working today. He has lived in an apartment with a roommate who has special needs. Recently he moved into an assisted living facility in Rockville, Maryland. Happy Birthday little brother!