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A Life Defined Not By Disability, But Love

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A Life Defined Not By Disability, But Love

A Life Defined Not By Disability, But Love

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And it's time for StoryCorps, the project that records everyday people talking about their lives. And today, a conversation with Bonnie Brown, who's intellectually disabled with a low IQ, and works part time at Wendy's. She's a single mom, has a teenage daughter Myra, and they recently interviewed each other for StoryCorps.

MYRA: When you found out you were pregnant with me, like, what did you think?

BONNIE BROWN: I was very happy, and I was also scared.

MYRA: Why were you scared?

BROWN: Because I hadn't ever been pregnant before. I never had really an idea of how to take care for a baby.

MYRA: Did you ever feel like I was too much to handle, like, ever?

BROWN: No. I think because I'm different, it might seem hard for me, but I was going to give it all I got, no matter what.

MYRA: When I was a kid, I didn't realize that you were different, and you actually had to tell me, because I wasn't figuring it out.

BROWN: I said to you, I said: Myra, I know I am not like your friends' mothers, but I'm doing the best I can. And you said: It's OK, Mommy. And that made me feel so good. Has my disability affected your life?

MYRA: I guess, like, when I was little, you had to go in for my parent-teacher conference and, like, as a disclosure, I was like, my mom's disabled. But the day after the interview, my teacher said that you seemed really intelligent. And that made me feel embarrassed.

BROWN: Why?

MYRA: Because I had felt bad that I had said that, and then you had gone and you'd have been fine.

BROWN: No offense taken. You were just giving her a heads-up, right?

MYRA: Yeah. What's the hardest thing that you've overcome?

BROWN: Being hurt from people. Not physical, but just like...

MYRA: Like, emotionally?

BROWN: Yeah, yeah.

MYRA: There were times when we would go out, and people would just blatantly stare. And I would say something. I guess I'm kind of protective.

BROWN: I am really thankful, because you understand me and you love me and you accept me. And thank you for that.

MYRA: I don't know, you kind of make it seem like I tolerate you. I love you. You're a good parent, and just because you're disabled doesn't mean that you do anything less for me. You want me to succeed.

BROWN: Yes, I do. I want you to make something of yourself.

MYRA: I want you to know that even though our situation is unique, I'm happy that I'm in it, because I'm happy that I am with you.

BROWN: Thank you, Myra. And I feel the same way. I won't never change it for anything in this world.

INSKEEP: Bonnie Brown and her daughter Myra at StoryCorps in Lansdowne, Pennsylvania. Hey, she's enrolled in gifted and talented classes at her high school, hopes to attend Cambridge University when she graduates.

Goodness, excuse me. Their interview will be archived at the Library of Congress. Go to the podcast, npr.org.

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