This last weekend, I was blessed with some ‘one on one’ time with my oldest sister, Patti. We usually get to visit only once or twice a year, being that she lives in Ohio, and I am in Virginia. My mom has been living with my husband and me for over ten years now, so naturally all our visits with Patti are always together, as a family.
For some reason, I felt compelled to see my sister, and spend time with her alone. There was no question in my mind…I needed her. Just like I did throughout my childhood, and then as I grew to adulthood.
So, let me tell you a little about Patti. She was a beautiful and feisty young girl, who now describes herself as a tomboy who loved climbing trees and neighborhood roofs. To be honest, she was a little mischievous.
That very sweet and active little girl contracted polio when she was 12 years old.
As a foreshadowing of the strength of character that would radiate all through Patti’s life, when she was suffering through the onset of the disease, the doctor was called to the house to check on her. When she realized she was to be taken to the hospital, she insisted that she would not be carried out. She climbed down the stairs on her own, saying that she wanted to do it herself, knowing she would never walk again. According to my mother, Patti never cried about her plight…which was a very different reaction than that experienced by my mom, who as a young mother, watched her daughter suffer through a horrible disease that almost killed her, and then caused her to be totally paralyzed. My mother’s heart broke for her daughter, and always wished there had been something she could have done to prevent this from happening. Even now, my mom’s eyes fill with tears as she remembers those days when Patti first got sick, how scared she was that Patti might die, and what lie ahead. The prognosis, according to the doctors at that time, was that Patti probably only had about ten years to live in her condition.
Well, God had other plans.
Patti is now 72 years old, and I can honestly say I have NEVER once heard her complain or cry about her ‘handicap.’ Just so you understand her condition, she can only move her right hand and her neck. Our mom and dad took care of all of her needs; my two sisters and I also learned to care for Patti’s personal and physical needs. That is, until she moved away so she could attend Ohio State University, where she ended up earning her Master’s Degree in Social Work. You see, Patti could never refuse to “walk” through a door that the Lord opened for her. She walked by faith and the Lord blessed her life tremendously. It was not always easy for her, however, her life has always been filled to the brim!
The funny thing is, I never saw my sister as ‘handicapped.’ In fact, she is the least handicapped person I have ever known.
Patti is totally open to The Holy Spirit directing her life, and she always makes herself available to those around her. When Patti is with you, she is focused on knowing not only your needs, but your heart. She has a way of reading between the lines; she is an edifier, always loving and supporting in any way she can.
She has touched so many people’s lives, and is loved by so many, that it boggles my mind. Being with her this last weekend was a Godsend to me. I was once again reminded of all the ways my sweet sister impacted my life…through all the stages I went through, the joys and the struggles.
She was always there for me:
When I climbed up on her hospital bed, snuggling up against her as she read my favorite stories and poems over and over again. She never refused when I asked her to read to me.
When I headed straight to her room after school all the way up through high school, unloading the highs and lows of my days.
When I needed advice about friends or boys, and then later on as I was struggling in my marriage.
When I started to question my faith, and did not understand why my life seemed so hopeless. She always gave me hope, and always shared her faith with me.
When she shared my joy as I became a mother; and as she loved my sons and enjoyed the time spent with them.
When she overlooked my selfishness, impatience and misdirection…always just loving me through everything.
Mostly, just by being present; in the moment.
So, as we visited, the time flew by. There is so much in our hearts to share with each other, and really only had hours to connect. And connect we did. I realized that my sister is truly a saint. I am not saying that lightly, and being the humble person that she is, Patti will most probably not agree with my assessment.
My life has been richly blessed with the privilege of having Patti for my sister. Through her journey, which she travels completely trusting the Lord in every way, I have learned faith, hope, and love. I am learning to bloom where I am planted, and never to compare myself or my personal journey to others. To just be me…the person that God created me to be.
I have learned that God works great things through all things. Patti’s life, which has been filled with great adventure and much love, shows us that the Lord works beauty through any situation we may find ourselves in. All we need to do is open our hearts to Jesus, allow His Spirit to flow through us, and then trust that He is working through us. The amount of hearts touched through Patti’s life is not even measurable; his love exudes from her.
When we were talking, Patti mentioned that she needs to work on her prayer time with The Lord. That she feels bad that she hasn’t set aside as much time as she would like for praying and meditating. I asked her if she talks to God, and she answered’ “all day long.”
Although I understand her desire to spend more alone time with Jesus, all that comes to my mind is…
Patti, your life is a prayer!
And thank you for covering me, and all the ones that the Lord has entrusted to you, with the light of that prayer.