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Yesterday was a special day for my entire family. My brother Pat accompanied my sister Mary Frances from her home in New Jersey to our home in North Carolina where she will spend the next week with us for Christmas.
My brother Pat and sister Mary
My sister and I are separated in age by 10 years. From the time she was eight I was out of the house off to college in North Carolina and then on to my career as a college basketball coach, athletic director, and chief of staff at four different universities.
My sister has a lot of special needs. She was born with Downs Syndrome and while she was an infant she contracted Rheumatic Fever which took away all of her hearing. Even though she cannot hear or speak she definitely can communicate if you are willing to pay close attention to her sign language conversations.
I sheepishly have to admit that my signing is very rudimentary and often have to depend on basic signing and a pad and pen to always understand what she is trying to tell me. My wife Mira has been a saint in learning many more words than I know. As a couple over the next 6-7 days we will enjoy our time with my sister.
We will watch her decorate her own Christmas Tree that includes decorations she has had for decades.
We will watch her interact with our granddaughter Bryleigh.
We will watch her open up each gift she receives on Christmas morning with absolute joy.
We will watch as she grills our children (in sign language) that are in relationships when they are getting married and having children.
If you have ever been around someone who has Down’s you know that they have loving hearts. My sister epitomizes that spirit. She will spend hours sending cards and notes to a variety of friends, family, and clergy members. Sometimes those cards and letters require the recipient to pay postage. She has a special fondness for men especially those that will dance with her at wedding or party. Bonus points if you are a priest, monsignor, or bishop.
When my sister meets you that alone will make you her friend. If you have ever spent time with her or just smiled at her you become a special friend. If you take a picture with her, write her, or dance with her than you become on par with the Pope.
This Christmas holiday I hope everyone that has met my sister, spent time with my sister, taking a photo with her, sent her a card, or danced with her know how much that means to our family.