Thanks, Big Sister

Yesterday was Mother’s Day.

And there are a lot of people out in the world who may not have physically given birth to a child or even cared for one on a full-time basis, but who make a defining difference in the lives of others during their childhood, or even in their adulthood.

Last year, I wrote a post about my mom, who did the best she could under the circumstances, after becoming a widow with five children at the age of 44 in 1957 (not exactly the best time to be a woman in the workforce). With Mom at work from 9 to 5, Patty was the one who arranged for me to learn typing in summer school, helped me get my first job, etc. etc.

When I talked to Patty on Mother’s Day and wished her a Happy Mother’s Day, she said, “I’m nobody’s mother” and laughed.

I replied that she not only helped to rear her two younger siblings, not to mention a beautiful, talented stepdaughter, but also the thousands of adolescent boys at Gonzaga College High School in Washington, D.C., where she has been the librarian for many years.

In mid-December, 2013,  Dr. Zurab Nadareishvili, the head of stroke at Suburban Hospital, did the last test to try to find the cause of my diagnosed “stroke” and  it, too, was negative, like all the others had been. Dr. Nadareishvili, who I will always be grateful to, admitted he didn’t know what’s wrong, but would call Neurology at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and arrange for an inpatient admission, where they could do a more complete workup.

Patty drove me to Baltimore, and waited and entertained me during the hours before I was admitted.

But that was just a very small part of what she had done to try to find the answer to my perplexing illness. Ever since my deterioration began escalating in October, she called any contact she had who she thought might help us understand what was happening to me. (And my sister knows a lot of people, believe me.)

Five days after admission, I left Johns Hopkins with the correct diagnosis,finally, after five months of incorrect ones.  I was transferred back to National Rehabilitation Hospital  about a mile up North Capitol Street from where my sister works. She  came by every day, brought me salads, food, and my favorite drink, an Arnold Palmer (black tea mixed with lemonade).

If that’s not the definition of a mom, I don’t know what is.

My gratitude and love for her is boundless.

Thanks, big sister.