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Love Starts with “D”

Updated: Mar 28, 2019

Steven ran from the kitchen and gave a high five to his brother, Bryan, and then he ran to his grandmother. “Hi D,” he said with a big smile, and put his arms around her neck. Dolores Cali, a 60-year-old resident of Kearny, smiled and explained that Dolores is too difficult for 3-year-old Steven to pronounce, so he just says “D.”


As a mother of five, and grandmother of 11, Cali said she realizes that each child is different. But Steven presents a particular challenge: He was born with Down’s syndrome.“It was love at first sight,” she said of Steven’s birth at the Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis, Md., where his parents, Patricia and Allan Milford, lived. “It was all the usual babykins talk how cute he was, who he looked like, how chubby he was all the normal things grandparents say,” said Cali, who is affiliated with a Hudson County organization that helps rehabilitate the handicapped. She also works for U.S. Rep. Frank Guarini in Jersey City.


It wasn’t until three days after Steven’s birth that the family found out that he had Down’s syndrome. “It was love at first sight,” she said of Steven’s birth at the Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis, Md., where his parents, Patricia and Allan Milford, lived. Cali said the news was devastating for her daughter and son-in-law, who now live in Hopatcong. “I was heartbroken for them,” she said, mentioning that the Milford’s first son, Bryan, was born with a heart defect. “He had open-heart surgery when he was only 20 hours old, and again when he was 1.” Bryan is now 5.


Cali delights in each grandchild as an individual; she affectionately runs through the list. “There’s Patrick,” she said. “He’s the oldest and charms his way through everything. Then there’s his brother, Anthony, who comes over and hugs you if he has to. John is the scholar and sportsman, and his sister, Jeanine, is the dancer in the family. Their brother, Robert, is the little terror. Andy is into every kind of sport; Jennifer, his sister, is the animal lover. Cynthia is the sweetheart, and Gary is the Mickey Mouse fan. Bryan is the Giants fan, and then Steven is the little lover. “


“He openly gives hugs and kisses,” she said of Steven. “He is extremely affectionate, and he has no problem holding his own with the other children, either. He likes to share his playthings,” she said. He does not like roughhousing, however, although he will bounce back with a smile every time. “