One of the Hogarth mother’s shared an article with me today. It’s about Camp Jabberwocky on Martha’s Vineyard, a summer camp that plays host to folks with physical and intellectual disabilities. It was founded in 1953 by Helen Lamb, whose great grandchildren I proudly number among my students.
What Mrs. Lamb did is nothing short of amazing, and holds great personal meaning for me. My mother’s older sister Grace was profoundly intellectually disabled and spent 82 of her 89 years as a resident of the Fernald School in Waltham. Grace was born at a time when people with intellectual disabilities were routinely placed in facilities we wouldn’t house a dog in today. My grandmother managed to keep Grace at home until she was six-years old.
Grace entered Fernald in 1927, shortly before my mother was born the seventh of the eleven children my grandmother would have. By the time my mother was seven, her father was dead. There were four more siblings in the crowded little house, including a younger brother with a brain tumor who would die on his sixth birthday. The Great Depression was raging, and any hope (if there ever was any) that Grace would rejoin the family was gone.
Grace remained at Fernald until her death a few years back. At that point, Fernald was a refuge for the few residents who still called it home. The staff did their best to help each find their joys in life. For Grace, it was music and the occasional dish of ice cream. She loved music and ice cream. I know she would have loved Camp Jabberwocky.
Thank you, Caitlin, for sharing that article with me today and bringing Grace to my mind. Thank you to your family for the joy they’ve brought so many over the years. And thank you, dear Readers, for letting me stray from my usual early childhood postings to remember that eternal child, my Aunt Grace. You can read more about Grace in an article I wrote about Eunice Kennedy Shriver for the Write Sisters in 2009.