We Used to Dance: Loving Judy, My Disabled Twin
by Debbie Chein Morris
She Writes Press

"What I really wish is to have a memory of how we danced… hand in hand, and feet to feet."

Morris shares a poignant, sometimes painful memoir of the time spent with her twin sister, Judy. Born first, Judy was soon recognized to have cerebral palsy, probably a result of damage to her brain before she emerged from their mother’s womb. Yet the author’s early childhood memories indicate that the two shared a remarkably communicative relationship. Though incontinent and burdened with cognitive impairments, her twin was able to enjoy the special attention of those who loved her. A special memory for Morris was of dancing with her sister to the merriment of other family members.

Judy received the home-based therapies and special equipment available at the time, providing needed assistance to their mother, who had three other children to watch after. Inevitably, as Morris' journal entries vividly attest, such measures were insufficient. Judy became increasingly vulnerable, creating distress and alarm among those who loved her. She would gradually move from home care to full-time, facility-based supervision that neither her aging mother nor her concerned siblings could have offered. Still, Morris and others held out hopes, visiting as often as possible to sustain genuine family cohesion.

Morris, who chose the field of early childhood education for her career path, here shows her skills as an introspective observer, sensitively communicating her feelings to her readership. Especially emotive are her journal entries encompassing her visits with Judy and consultations with family during crucial episodes that might last days at a time with the outcomes unknown but possibly grim. Along with dread and self-doubts in her private contemplations, Morris strove to find positive aspects for each situation. Readers with family challenges will recognize and empathize with Morris’ frank, tender outpourings and will value her work as freely offered for comfort and deeper comprehension.

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