I didn’t know Grandma Schalk wrote poetry.

Poetry isn’t usually my cup of tea, but the poem I want to share today (and I’ll be sharing one tomorrow about Phil) have nearly done me in. I’ve cried more tears over these two poems than I care to admit.

Grandma Schalk would have celebrated her 93rd year on this earth December 13th. God called her home on Phil’s birthday.

There were seven Schalk children. Betty, Martin, Frank, Glinda, Lloyd, Denny, and Marilyn (Phil’s mom.)

Today I want to talk about Denny. (excerpt from Meet the Family)

Born with Down’s Syndrome and expected to die around age eleven, he’s now in his sixties and ornery as ever.

Denny loves people and loves visitors. He’s also a collector. Of everything. Pens especially but other things aren’t out of consideration…McDonald’s Happy Meal boxes, fries still at the bottom, Hotwheels cars, my hair clips, checkbooks, handkerchiefs, combs, and whatever else strikes his fancy. Coming to visit means Denny’ll be bringing out the best of the best to show off. You can’t look for too long, he thinks you’re stealing back what rightfully belongs to you. He doesn’t talk, just grunts, but believe you me, it is clear what Denny is saying.

Typically, Denny’ll bring out something, show it to me and Grandma, who is blind mind you, will say, “What’s that there. My check register? Denny! Give that back.” She’ll walk over and try to get it back, but Denny’s adamant, it is his. After awhile, Grandma tires of trying to pry the check register out of Denny’s hands and calls to Lloyd, who hops up and yanks it out of Denny’s hand. Denny then pouts and sulks until he gets pie.

He makes faces at us all the time, probably because we play along and make them back. He loves hugs from everyone who visits and steals your cool stuff, takes it to his room, puts it on top of a piece of paper and sits to look at it. We usually bring Denny a stuffed animal or other kid’s toy to avoid being robbed blind.

Denny couldn’t come to the funeral home, he wouldn’t have understood. As the pastor delivered the eulogy, it was mostly okay. Grandma lived a long, happy life. There’s nothing wrong with dying in your sleep when you’re almost 93. But then this poem was read and I can’t shake the emotion.

Grandma wrote this for Denny when he was a baby. He’s 62 now.

Special Darling by Lillian Schalk

They say I must let you go little darling,
You can only bring heartache to me.
You’re not like the rest of the children,
For you are retarded you see.

You don’t speak or play like the others.
And I know you will never be free
To grow up and be someone special.
My sweetheart, you’re special to me.

Friends don’t know how much they hurt me,
When they say I must let you go.
Send you to a home and forget you,
And start living my life over anew.

This world is a cruel place, darling,
When parents won’t look after their own.
You have a mother who loves you,
And will always keep you at home.

I will always take care of you sweetheart,
And do the very best I can.
Our Father in Heaven is helping
To care for my little man.

There was a luncheon at the house after Grandma’s funeral. I took Denny a Daisy from the arrangement on Grandma’s casket. He put it on the floor between the Pokemon cards Zane gave him and the picture I helped him draw the day before.

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