Business, Community, Feature

Family, Love, and Two Fingers are all she Needs to Make a Full Meal

For many disabled people, finding job opportunities is a challenge. A Cornell study found less than ten percent of disabled adults in New York State are fully employed. Recently I had the chance to tell the story of one woman who is not letting her disability define her, but instead she's using it to her advantage. (c) Mye Owens 2018

By Mye Owens SYRACUSE, N.Y.

The saying is the way to a man’s heart is through food, but for one woman in Syracuse food has a much deeper meaning.

Bryony Grealish grew up in Syracuse. As a baby, Grealish was given up for adoption. Rather she was left in front of an adoption house. The woman who found her called, who was soon to be Grealish’s adoptive mother, and told her there was a baby she just had to have who looked like she belonged to the family.

A family who cherished strangers. The family consisted of 12 people. 2 parents and 10 children who were adopted just like Grealish. Being in a family of 12, Grealish says there was never a boring moment in the house. Having a mother who took in 10 children, it was easy for Grealish to look up to her mother. Grealish says,

“You know in school when they ask you whose your hero, and you get superman, Spiderman. You know kids are coming up with all these like movie stars and things, I was like no my mother.”

Of the 10 children who were adopted several of them had disabilities. One sister was born with a genetic disorder that left her unable to read or write. But, she was smart, caring, and always willing to help Grealish achieve her cooking goals. Grealish says,

“I would experiment on her because she ate everything. Sometimes it would be nasty when I was little, and she’d eat it. She’d eat it. You would see the look on her face and then she would run and get water.

Also among the Grealish children were two African American brothers. In a house full of diversity, the Grealish kids looked towards their father for guidance, and to teach them first hand experience about overcoming their disabilities. Grealish remembers,

“He got into a horrible car accident and almost died and became a quadriplegic. So he broke his second vertebrae and his neck…so he was wheelchair bound for the rest of his life.”

With so much diversity in the family, it wasn’t always easy for them to find happiness among hate. Grealish explained people weren’t always the friendliest towards them. she especially remembers a time when a nurse wouldn’t touch her brother for fear of contracting AIDS.

Grealish wasn’t the exception when it come to being different among her family. She was born with a rare genetic disorder that left her with 1 toe on each foot and 1 finger on each hand. But that was all she needed to make family favorite dishes.