Sadly, Nic’s father Tim passed away from a heart condition related to Down Syndrome when Nic was just five. Patti and Norm drew in even closer to be Lisa and Nic’s support. He grew up with Patti and Norm, and even called Norm “Dad.” Lisa lived in an apartment nearby and helped raise her son along side her parents.
“I’m lucky because I have two moms,” Nic, now 27, says.
Unfortunately, Nic lost a second father when Norm passed away from cancer in 2021. But he, Patti, and Lisa continue living a loving and full life together. Lisa is beyond proud of her son and tells everyone she meets about him. Nic recently graduated from the Wayfinders program at California State University, Fresno in 2020. This two-year, non-degree program teaches young adults with disabilities how to live on their own. Nic says he hopes to, like his mother before him, get his own place and live independently very soon.
Just like any mom, Lisa is having a little trouble letting go of her “little boy,” Patti says.
“Lisa has trouble letting him make his own decisions. She wants to assist him and he doesn’t need any assistance,” Patti told TODAY. “She treats him younger than he is.”
Patti and Nic are now supporting Lisa and each other through a new challenge: at age 57, Lisa has been recently diagnosed with dementia. The National Down Syndrome Society says that Alzheimer’s disease effects about 30% of people with Down Syndrome in their 50s.
At age 75 herself, Patti is currently searching for a plan of care for Nic and Lisa for when she herself passes away. It’s a problem without a clear answer.
“That is the billion dollar question for any person who has a disabled offspring, and I’m not satisfied with my answer at this moment,” Patti says. “I am still exploring and trying to create and discover the right situation.”
Despite their challenges and uncertain future, Patti is proud and blessed by the unique family she’s a part of. And it certainly seems that she blesses Nic and Lisa as well. They are a wonderful example of how life with disability in it can be awfully full and beautiful.