Thursday, August 14, 2008

My Little Sister

Forty-three years ago, my mother’s sister found herself pregnant even though she’d had a tubal ligation years before. She already had four daughters and was in the midst of a divorce, so she decided to let my mother and father adopt her baby. I was three years old at the time, and my mother couldn’t have any more children, but she wanted me to have a little sister. Evidently, God wanted me to have one too, because he sent us my sister Michaelé.

I’ve been proud of my little sister for as long as I can remember, but it used to be mainly because she was so darned cute. She has the most beautiful curly hair I’ve ever seen—it looks better when she wakes up in the morning than mine does after I’ve spent an hour working on it. She has hazel eyes with long, thick lashes, and she could have given Shirley Temple a run for her money in the cherubic department when she was little.

When I was in the third grade, we did ceramics. We all got to make an ashtray and a duck, but we were only allowed to paint them one color that transformed into a glossy, dual-colored pattern after they were fired in the kiln. My teacher, however, painted her duck in realistic different colors and didn’t fire it, and every child in the class—-including me—-coveted it for their own. My mother and sister (four at the time) came to our class Christmas party and my teacher gave the duck to Michaelé. That’s how cute she was.

Michaelé went from cute to beautiful as a teenager, and I was proud of her beauty and athletic talent on the softball field. I loved watching her play because she would frequently hit the ball over the heads of the outfielders who were unaware that her small size belied her strength, and she was so fast she could make catches in the outfield that no one even thought she would get to. For someone like me who has no depth perception and tends to fall down when she runs, my sister’s athletic prowess was especially impressive. I also liked looking at her coach’s legs, so when she got too old to play for him any longer, I married him.

Michaelé is still beautiful, but that’s no longer why I’m so proud of her. She is an amazing woman who never ceases to inspire me with her spirit and the goodness of her heart. She has overcome tragedies in her life that would have sent most people into hiding, cowering in fear. She’s walked away from husbands who couldn’t appreciate her and jobs that would have forced her to compromise her ethics, even though she was the sole support for herself and her children. She put herself through nursing school against unbelievable odds and became one of the best nurses ever to wear the uniform.

When she was twenty-seven years old, Michaelé and her husband wanted desperately to have a little girl, but she wasn’t able to get pregnant. For seven years they tried every fertility method they could afford, including two surgeries, all with no luck. Michaelé ultimately decided to be an egg donor to another couple in exchange for in vitro fertilization (a very expensive procedure) and that’s how she found herself pregnant with quadruplets at the age of thirty-four.

On December 31, 1998, my sister and her husband got their little girl with three little boys as a bonus. Abigail, Bridges, Chancey and Dawson were born at 28-weeks’ gestation and weighed around two pounds each. Michaelé tackled being the mother of quads with the same enthusiasm and undying determination that had gotten her through everything else in her life, and she did it with only a small amount of help in the beginning from her sister and two very-true friends. By the time the babies were six months old, Michaelé cared for them completely by herself during the day when her husband was at work and her three teenagers were at school.

The quads (whom I fear will forever be called “the babies” by our family) are happy, healthy, smart, delightful 9-year-olds now, and they are as much a blessing as their mother is. But, as good as they are, there are FOUR of them and they require an enormous amount of attention and energy. Not only does Michaelé take care of her family and home, she works as a nurse at a convalescent center and attends classes to advance her career.

That’s why my sister is the woman I admire most in the world. As a closing tribute to the blessings God has given our family and the kind of amazing woman Michaelé is, I want to share this excerpt from a presentation about her quadruplets she gave last year in her Speech class:

“Once there was this woman who loved the Lord very much. When she worked in her gardens, she would pray and talk with God. The woman and her husband had been trying to have a baby for 7 years, yet she was still barren. The garden that she loved to work in the most was her rose garden. She had planted several wild rose bushes 3 years before, but although the plants were flourishing, they had never had a bloom.

One day while working in her garden, the woman reminded God of what He said in the Scriptures. She said, ‘Lord, you said in your Word that if we had faith as small as a mustard seed, we could say to this mountain move and it would. You said whatsoever we asked in your name, believing that we had already received, we would have whatsoever we asked for. And you said none shall be barren in your land. Lord, I ask you for a child. I also ask that these roses bloom on this vine as a token of your love and promise to me that I will have a child.’

The woman thought nothing more about what she had prayed and asked of God, and one day she went out to her garden to work and it was covered with red roses.”

~Stay true to yourself, and your dreams will come true.