Filmmaker’s cousin provides inspiration for Real Live Angels

By Brent Weber

My cousin Kay lived just shy of her 60th birthday. She died in October of 2011, and I may have been 8 or 9 years old the last time I saw her. By then, she had settled into her life, cared for by her mother, my Aunt, and her loving sister especially. Joanie would be there for Kay for the rest of her life.

Kay LeMay was born ahead of her time. I mean that to say, since she lived with Down syndrome, being born in 1951 was just a bit too late to have fully benefitted from the changes that occurred in our society with the creation of the Special Olympics, and the attention finally given to better understanding, treatment and inclusion of those with disabilities like Kay’s. I can only imagine how much more joyful her first ten or 12 (or all 59) years might have been with palace like the one we visit in Real Live Angels.

Our families grew up in different parts of the world from there forward, hers in northern Indiana, mine in metro Atlanta, Georgia. And while I don’t know much about Kay’s life, I wish she had been born a little later so that she could have been brought into a world with a better understanding of her abilities and not so much attention people tended to – and still certainly do – put upon people’s so-called disabilities. I like to think of Kay as I remember her: boisterous and funny, laughing and playing, wanting to go out with her mother, wanting to just be a normal “kid”.

My sister Barb is seen at the left of this family photo taken some time around 1955 at an Eisenhauer family reunion in Petrifying Springs Park in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Kay is in her sister Joanie’s lap at the right of the photo, being a ham for the camera. This film, Real Live Angels, is dedicated to Kay LeMay and my memory of her. Kay M. LeMay, December 15, 1951 – October 6, 2011

Family FunI urge you to reply below to this post with any stories of your own loved ones who may have touched your life over the years, helped you grow, opened your eyes, taught you a new way to love.


One thought on “Filmmaker’s cousin provides inspiration for Real Live Angels

  1. I remember when I was about fourteen or so years old, all of the Lemay cousins were visiting us (Webers) in Atlanta, and we went to the Atlanta Zoo. I remember we were all watching the antics of a huge gorilla named Willie B. (?). Kay looked sad, and I heard her say, “That’s the way they look at me. That’s the way they look at me.” I don’t remember if she was speaking to her mom, Aunt Mellie, or to her sister, Cousin Joanie, but time stood still for me for a few moments and my perspective of what it meant to be Down’s Syndrome in our society changed for me that day. I eventually earned my teaching degree in Special Education. I rarely saw Kay or the other Lemay cousins because we lived so far apart, but that day helped determine the course of my life!

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