A Beacon of Perseverance, Gratitude and Love
My sister, Donna is a one of a kind. She not only has a remarkable memory, but knows every family member’s name, their birthday, wedding anniversary, their spouses and children’s names, and when they graduated from school. She is the one that greets each person at our family reunion by their first name, as my brother, Lee, my sister, Emma, and I just say, “Hello,” and smile. I must mention that our family is well over four hundred strong with at least one hundred or more attending our annual reunion.
She is our go to gal, when we remember something great that happened in the past, but just can’t pull out the date. As I am getting older, I find myself calling her quite frequently for dates of things, I should remember. Donna actually wrote the birthdays, wedding anniversaries, graduation dates and whatever date she thought I would need in a lovely date book, which I can’t seem to find. She is amazing!
This story is not just about my sister’s memory, it’s much more than that. It is about a woman with a big heart, who cares about each person she meets. It is about the birthday cards she sends out to immediate family, and close friends. It is about the call she makes when someone is sick, and the encouragement she gives. My sister always ends her calls with, “Call me if you need anything.”
Donna didn’t always have an easy life. When she was six years old, she had a serious hip injury, and had to wear a brace for three and one half years. I remember it well. Donna had to put her leg down through two heavy metal pieces attached to a not so nice looking shoe. The top of the brace went part way around the side of her hip. She had to keep the brace on from the time she got out of bed, until it was time for dreamland again. Dad had to carry her to bed each and every night. My younger sister would cry because the brace was so heavy for such a tiny girl to have to maneuver for several hours a day. But she persevered and for the most part, was her happy go lucky self. I was thirteen when she wore her brace, and remembered how sad I felt for this precious sister of mine.
My sister married, and had two sons. She also had several step children who called her Mom, although they did not live with her. There is a lot I could write in this part of my story, but out of respect for my sister’s late husband and sons, I will just say that once again she persevered.
Donna lived back a dirt lane, very close to our parent’s home. When our father became very ill, she was there. In fact she was there everyday, and for that I will always be grateful. Dad’s passing was hard on all of us, especially Donna.
About ten years ago, I noticed my sister, had put on a considerable amount of weight. I also noticed that her stomach was taking on a different shape. Whenever I asked her about it, she would say she was alright, and change the subject. I continued to ask, until she told me that she did not feel well, but could not go to a specialist because of her poor insurance. This was not acceptable to me. I thought long and hard about her situation, and one night I took her needs into my own hands. After my husband went to bed I emailed three local hospitals. I used the ” Contact Us” box, and poured my heart out. As I clicked the send button, I wasn’t sure if I would even get a reply. I just had to try. Much to my surprise, Lehigh Valley Hospital, responded to my plea, and gave me the best news of the day. They wanted to help my sister, and that they did. It turned out that Donna had a hernia the size of a beach ball, and all her intestines were inside. A long story short, Donna had the difficult operation and it was a success. We were all thankful for the team of doctors who helped Donna.
Donna’s husband was diagnosed with lung cancer a few years later. My sweet sister stayed by his side until his dying day.
A few years later, Donna fell in love and married a wonderful man who treats her like a queen. They live very close to me in a small ranch that they bought; I am loving it.
December 11, 2015, my sweet sister had a heart attack. She is now the owner of three stents. She attends Cardiology Rehabilitation, three times a week. Although my sister is still tired, she is doing well. Today, I had to pick her up after her class. I saw first hand how hard she was working. Three ladies came up to me, and asked if I was her sister. I replied, “Yes,” as they continued to tell me how sweet she is, and how much they like her. I just smiled.
My sister has taught me so many things. She is my beacon. Her love for others, her perseverance, and her gratitude for everything whether big or small, shines in the hearts, of everyone she meets.
So, dear readers, who are you grateful for today? Who shines in your heart?