A special 60th birthday celebration

Bernard Abrahams, middle, celebrated his 60th birthday on Saturday August 15. with him are his siblings, Norman Abrahams and Anita Wildeman.

The family of Bernard Abrahams held a “drive-by” 60th birthday party for him on Saturday in Bridgetown.

It was a big day for Mr Abrahams, who has Down syndrome, and his sister, Anita Wildeman, wanted to make it special for him.

Mr Abrahams is the eldest of three siblings who grew up in Kewtown. They were cared for by their grandparents when their mother was at work.

Ms Wildeman described her brother as a friendly, helpful person who loved his church.

He came to live with her 13 years ago, after their mother’s death.

“Boeta (as he is affectionately known) loves people, and he loves attention,” she said. “He is not so happy that he was not able to go to church during lockdown because he is very passionate about his church. Our grandparents were staunch Christians, and that is where his love for the church started. He cannot read, but he knows his Bible scriptures very well. If you befriend him, you will have a friend for life.”

Ms Wildeman was anxious about arranging the birthday bash because for the past five years her brother has fallen ill a few days before his birthday. He is generally in good health, and Ms Abrahams suspects it’s the excitement leading up to his birthday that’s to blame.

“My birthday is in July, and he knows his birthday follows mine, so he will have a countdown, but just as we get close to his birthday, then he would start complaining of stomach problems.”

Her brother worked for many years with their mother at a factory in Maitland. On one occasion when their mother was not well, Mr Abrahams travelled alone to work without his family’s knowledge. While they panicked about it, he took it in his stride.

On Saturday, Mr Abrahams told his guests that he was grateful to be spared another year, and that God should spare Ms Wildeman for many years, as she took care of him.

Ms Wildeman said she couldn’t do it without help from her mother-in-law, Sarah Wildeman, and her two children.

“My mother-in-law moved in with us after my husband passed away in 2004. She not only helps care for Boeta, but she also assisted me to care for our mother, who also lived with us. My late mother had Alzheimer’s. I would like to honour her, as well as my children, Chanté and Evander, who step in when we need them.”