December 10, 1955 is not the day God created my sister Cathryn, but instead her life began exactly nine months earlier. Cathy has Cerebral Palsy, but she does far more than many of us who have our full health. She is loving, long-suffering, and has a great sense of humor.
Some doctors today would suggest Cathryn should have been aborted due to her physical challenges. But my parents believed their special needs child was a privileged taste of heaven. Like the novel Little Women, my sisters, Cinda and Carolyn, would agree that our foursome sisterhood would not be complete without Cathyrn.
While seminary taught me on one level, my real school for the ministry was growing up with my older sister, Cathryn. She’s also my Irish Twin–she’s less than one year older than me, only 11 months.
My other sisters and I liked our teachers; she loved her’s. Shaking a maraca was for her a trip to Mexico. Sledding on a cold Saturday afternoon was an adventure in the Swiss Alps. We were glad to go to our church, while Cathy squealed with delight on the way.
Bob and I have many favorite memories with Cathy, but one of our favorite ones happened on Valentine’s Day when she was visiting us. Bob and I went out to get lunch for all of us. When we returned, we got a huge Valentine’s Day surprise from Cathy. She swung the front door open and shouted, “Happy Valentine’s Day!”
She was dressed in red from head to toe. She had on a red headband, red necklace, and red bow. Her shirt and vest were red. Cathy’s skirt was bright red and so were her socks. Bright red shoes adorned her feet. (The sweetest thing is that all of these shades of red were different colors such as dark red, pink, ruby red, maroon, orange, and mauve, but Cathy didn’t care. It was about love, not fashion.)
She was telling us Happy Valentine’s Day with her whole self and wanted us to feel loved.
Cathy taught me kindness and unconditional love, something that cannot be taught in a book or lecture, but only through the crucible of life by those who live it.
Dear God, Thank you for blessing us with Cathryn, our gift from heaven, to see more clearly your heart and ways. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
“And be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32
Have you hugged a special needs person today?