In the past, when I have written thank you posts to my sisters, I have always written about them as a group. This year, I decided they each deserve their own gratitude post. Prior to this post going live, they did not know I was planning to do this. Susan, Donna and Caroline – you’ll have to wait your turn. Sandy gets to be first this time.
I am close to all of my sisters, but Sandy lives the closest to me so I see her the most frequently. She is listed as my emergency contact most often, and is usually the first person to get a phone call if something happens to me.
When I fell in January, Sandy was the first person I called. At least, I tried to call her. She had her cell phone turned off. Lying on my bedroom floor, writhing in pain as I waited for the ambulance to arrive, I attempted to search my contacts for Sandy’s work phone number. Who memorizes phone numbers these days? After two minutes of unsuccessful searches, I gave up and called another sister.
Caroline, I need you to call Sandy. I fell, and I think I broke my leg. You need to reach her and tell her I’m going to St. Peter’s. Please, just call her and tell her to meet me there.
Thinking over our relationship, I often call out for Sandy knowing she’ll come to my side if she can. Since I moved to the Albany area twenty-five years ago, there have been far too many of those phone calls.
I took my medicine and it’s making me fuzzy. I don’t think I can safely stand to finish getting dressed. Can you come over early to help me before you take me to the dentist?
My child language development class needs kids so we can practice administering tests. Would you let us test the boys?
My wheelchair stopped working in the middle of the intersection of 7th Avenue and 33rd Street. David helped me make it to the train at Penn Station, but can you meet me at the station at Albany to help me get home?
My PA isn’t able to help me go to bed/get out of bed/go to the bathroom/take a shower. Do you have time to help me please?
I have to bring cookies to my friend’s party. Can you help me bake tomorrow night?
I can’t stand being home alone. I’m driving myself crazy wondering why he said it’s over. What are you doing tonight?
Here’s the thing about my wonderful sister Sandy – she never turns me down. Even when I have a broken leg, and I can’t stop crying, and I keep snapping at her because I’m scared and in pain. Sandy is always there, doing whatever she can to make things better.
When I was admitted to the hospital in January, I was initially put on the orthopedic unit. Unfortunately, the electronic beds on the unit did not have controls mounted where I could reach them. I asked for a handset to control the bed, knowing I would need to move frequently to try to be as comfortable as possible and to reduce the risk of pressure sores. It was late at night and I was told I would have to wait until the next day to get a handset so I could operate the bed independently.
While I started getting angry, protesting this restraint, Sandy calmly asked the nurses for a recliner. She spent that first night in the hospital next to my bed in a plastic hospital recliner so I would have someone instantly whenever I needed to move or reposition my body. If I had to guess, I woke her up at least every twenty minutes to move my legs, my head, my foot, my arm, the pillow – you get the idea. I also cried, complained, and whined about the pain. I doubt either of us truly slept that night, but my memories of the exact events are rather fuzzy because I took as much pain medication as was allowed. The one thing I am certain of is that Sandy’s presence made it possible for me to make it through the night with fewer tears and less discomfort.
About ten years ago, Sandy and I started having discussions about our healthcare wishes. Knowing Sandy was listed as my emergency contact, I asked if she would be willing to act as my health care proxy if at any time I was unable to make my wishes known. At the time, I don’t think either of us suspected she would be called upon twice in the next ten years to be my advocate and relay my wishes to medical providers. But both times, Sandy did exactly what I would have wanted her to do even if it might not have been the choice she would have wanted to make. I couldn’t ask for anything more from one of the people I trust to act on my behalf should I be incapacitated.
Sandy has been a source of strength and positivity throughout my life, but I have appreciated it even more this year. She has been with me every step of the way as I worked to recuperate from my injury and regain my independence. Sandy brought me junk food when I was craving a burger, and homemade soup when I had a cold. She drove me to our hometown for family gatherings even though she really doesn’t like driving my van, and learned how to transfer me in a new way in case I needed her to help me at home.
Sandy continues to be one of my roll models, acting as an example of the kind of woman I want to be when I grow up. She juggles many balls – work, family, volunteer activities, friends, and more – but rarely do any of them drop. I’m sure she’s rolling her eyes now as she reads this, thinking she has me fooled.
The truth is, Sandy does a great deal to make life easier for those around her. I’m blessed to count her as not just a sister, but one of my best friends. Sure, I probably would have made it through this year if she were not a part of my life. But, I would not have laughed as much, dreamed as big, or reached for higher goals.
Thank you Sandy, for always being there, for letting me be me, and for loving me even when my clutter gives you heart palpitations and my lack of organization makes you crazy. I love you.