by Barbara S.
Detroit Michigan is where I was born and raised. I have two older sisters, and one younger brother. My mom and dad were wonderful parents, and great role models. Looking back… Being the only little person in the family was very special, but what was unique, was the fact, that I did not know that I was a “little person!” I only knew that I was shorter than my siblings.
Dwarfism, or being different, was never talked about at home. My parents never ever told me that I could not do something. Quite the opposite… they were always very supportive… very encouraging… and very loving! All they wanted me to do was to “do the very best I could, and give it my all!” And that is what I have done all my life… The word “can’t” was never in my vocabulary. I never heard it growing up.
Although I grew up in such a wonderful, loving atmosphere… it was also very difficult for me during my junior high and high school years, because I never went out on dates. I was very involved in Youth Group activities, so I was always with friends, always in a group setting… but never out dating. I was never around any little people, and average size people were probably uncomfortable with the size difference. Looking back, I missed going to my high school prom… all because of my size. Those years were very difficult, especially when several of my friends were going out on dates! What I learned is that many female little people also went through their adolescent years and were never asked out! They never went on a single date! Many male little people do not ask ladies out, whether they were average height or dwarfs, for fear of rejection. And yet there are several little people, both male and female, who were/are so confident and self-assuring, that dating has never been a problem for them.
After I graduated from Mumford High School, in Detroit, Michigan, I went to the University of Arizona, in Tucson, Arizona for my freshman year. And it was there that I learned all about myself! One of my roommates thought when she left home, the world was going to be perfect, until she met me… This experience definitely changed my life. After much research, and talking with many professionals, I then contacted my parents and asked them, “if they knew that I was a dwarf?” And a whole new world opened up for me.
Yes, they knew. And, yes, they waited all those years for me to come to them. And yes, they brought me up just like my siblings… and what a beautiful story I have to share every time I go talk about “being little and what it was like growing up.”
Within a few years, I became involved with Little People of America, Inc. and met little people from all over the world. So much has happened since then… and through it all I have been blessed. Marriage.. the loss of two double dominant children.. adoption of two beautiful children... divorce.. marriage.. adoption of another beautiful child.. passing away of spouse. Once again, always positive, always looking on the bright side… treasured memories! That’s what life is all about! Going through cycles of life, with your head up high, a smile on your face, ready for a new day.
The year was 1974, at The Grove Park Inn, located in Asheville, North Carolina at the LPA convention, where Harrell Parker and I became friends. Our lives were in different directions at the time, but periodically we kept in touch with one another. And then in July, 2008 Harrell made a post on the LPA List Serve, an information network (before facebook) about a little person who died. Della Shelton was a mutual friend, and I responded to his post. Because we had not had contact in 15 years, Harrell’s reaction was OMG… and the rest is history!
Harrell and I have a very special relationship, and love one another very much. I am very blessed! After all, he carried a picture of the two of us in his wallet for 32 years! If that isn’t love… Happiness is written all over the two of us. We are very much alike in so many ways.. in the things we do and say.. in our mannerisms.. our likes, and our dislikes.. We were brought up in loving homes, and always were around positive influences, everywhere we went…and that’s how we live life! Always with a smile.. always with the attitude that we can do it!. Sometimes it might take us a little longer to figure out how to do it, but we always put forth every effort, and give it our very best. We love life… and it shows in everything we do!