The Hardest Job She'll Ever Love

Although Cathy Morgan is known as the caregiver for her son Junior Morgan, who has Down syndrome, they care for each other as they get older.

Cathy Morgan and Junior Morgan do a picture search game titled “Search for Santa” as a nightly activity together in their home in Bowling Green on Oct. 20, 2021. Cathy jokes with Junior as they search. “Why’d you look at me when I said to look for a cow?” Cathy says. They also play Yahtzee and Bingo together.

Cathy Morgan teases her son, Junior Morgan, as they do a picture search game together, making bunny ears with her fingers behind his head. “I found the bunny!” she says.

Junior laughs. “Ah, Mimi!” he says affectionately.

Junior, 39, has Down syndrome and lives with his mom, Cathy, 70, in the home she bought 30 years ago in Bowling Green. Cathy’s encouragement of Junior to help with laundry, cooking and other household chores has made him self-sufficient and their relationship symbiotic. 

Left: As Cathy Morgan makes breakfast, she asks Junior Morgan if he wants to help with different tasks, such as flipping sausage and making scrambled eggs in their home in Bowling Green on Oct. 21, 2021. To avoid being bossy, she asks instead of telling Junior to help. “I let him make up his mind about stuff,” Cathy says. They eat breakfast together each morning, waking up an hour before she needs to leave to clean houses.

“(Junior’s) like, ‘If you help me, I’ll help you,’” Cathy says. When Cathy asks him if he wants to clean his room each Sunday, suggesting they could always do it later, Junior is easily on board to help. He seems to have inherited the sweetness his mother demonstrates.

Junior Morgan practices guitar for about 45 minutes every night in his home in Bowling Green on Oct. 20, 2021. He also attends a weekly lesson. Because learning the chords helps Junior with memory and fine motor skills his mom hopes it will help him avoid getting dementia. “I think keeping him busy will prolong it,” Cathy says. According to the National Down Syndrome Society, about 30% of individuals with Down syndrome have dementia in their 50s. Cathy turns the recliner, sets up the stand and music, adjusts his light, and tunes the guitar. She also organized the folder with his music so he wouldn’t have to flip pages. “I played that really good,” Junior says.

Cathy raised Junior as a single mom after divorcing his father two years into their marriage. She received some help from her first husband’s family, her oldest daughter from that marriage, and a babysitter, but Cathy was the main caregiver for Junior.

“The first 10 years was like hair pulling. It was almost too much,” Cathy says. “But after he got, like, 10, he calmed down. It wasn’t bad at all after that.” Junior can be left alone at home now when his mom goes to clean other people’s houses during the day.

Cathy didn’t know what Down syndrome was when Junior was diagnosed at 2 months old. The nurse suggested institutionalizing him, but Cathy rejected the idea. She started taking him to an early intervention program, where they helped him learn things such as walking, which he couldn’t do until he was 3.

Junior Morgan slowly backs up his golf cart from the shed as his mom Cathy Morgan watches in their yard in Bowling Green on Oct. 21, 2021. He only drives it in the yard, cautiously switching between the gas and brake. Cathy drives the golf cart 5 miles on the backroads to take Junior to Chaney’s Dairy barn to get food and ice cream occasionally during the week.

“I kinda knew it was not going to be the easiest job I ever had. But it’s going to be the hardest job you’ll ever love.”

-Cathy Morgan

In the past, Junior spent time in Best Buddies and programs at the Down Syndrome of South Central Kentucky Buddy House, but Cathy says he outgrew them. Cathy supports the things he is interested in, including guitar, crochet and CrossFit. They also eat out together, frequently getting ice cream.

Left: Junior Morgan participates in a workout in the 4:15 pm class at CrossFit Old School in Bowling Green on Oct. 21, 2021. He joked with the coach and encouraged the other people working out during the class. Junior has been coming to CrossFit every day but Wednesday and Sunday for about 6 years. ‘“I love coming here,” Junior says. “I’m working hard.”

“I always take him where he asks because I know he doesn’t have any other way to get around,” Cathy says. “I love doing stuff with him.”

Cathy Morgan and Junior Morgan talk about a post in Junior’s Facebook feed while eating dinner at Olive Garden in Bowling Green on Oct. 22, 2021. They go out to eat and shop often together. “If I suggest something he’s all for it,” Cathy says. “[Our relationship] is the best.”

Cathy wants to live with Junior for the rest of her life because of the good relationship they have. If Junior ever wants to move out, she says he’ll have to take her with him.

“I’d say we pretty much are best friends. I’m thankful I got him.”

-Cathy Morgan

Junior and Cathy Morgan look at the cake and presents his friends from CrossFit Old School brought for Junior's surprise 40th birthday party on Nov. 13, 2021. Junior's mom told him he was going to a yoga class, but when he arrived about 30 people were waiting to celebrate his birthday with him. Cathy was in on the surprise suggested to her by the coaches at CrossFit Old School, but was brought to tears to see how everything came together and the love that was shown to her son but members of the community.

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