Holly Coulter's Essay Submission
A Woman Who Inspires Me: Her sister Ann
As I stand at the end of a hospital bed and watch her care for her 31 year old daughter, who is terminally ill, I realize everything she has given up and taken on, to make sure her daughter has everything she could possibly need. This woman is my sister Ann.
As mothers, we all ‘give up’ certain things in our lives to care and nurture our children to ensure they have healthy, happy, and productive lives, and take on additional roles in throughout their lives. My sister raised her three children in that manner. As well as participating in their school, sports activities, as well as social activities with their friends.
In March of 2010 my niece Melissa started having the symptoms of ALS also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. With her symptoms progressing so rapidly, my sister eventually took leave of her job to care for her daughter and in essence, gave up her life to make the quality of life better for Melissa.
The disease was progressing fast in my niece, which eventually moved to her muscular system and her lungs. Paralyzed but feeling everything, she was confined to a hospital bed and was placed on a ventilator and oxygen, with a feeding tube in her stomach. She was in a long term acute care hospital in December of 2010 and was not able to come home because of the extensive care she needed. My sister then stepped in and took classes, with no prior medical training other than putting a band-aid on, and was certified on the ventilator, tracheotomy, feeding tube, and the oxygen machine which would allow her to bring her daughter home. As if my sister was made of concrete, the event of her home catching on fire and losing every material object inside of it, was enough to make anyone crumble to their knees, but not my sister.
To this very day she continues to care for her daughter as the end of Melissa’s life draws near. Never knowing the pain of losing a child to a terminal illness or to watch your own child go through it, she does it with the grace and dignity of a saint. She holds her head up high, and when she finally gets a few minutes to herself, which is rare, she sheds her tears and saves them for herself all the while bracing herself for what is to come.
My sister Ann is one of the women I most admire in my life. Not only has she supported me throughout my entire life but she is the very essence of selflessness. As her younger sibling, she has always been a second mother to me, a best friend, a confidant, an advisor, and a role model. Not that I don’t admire our strong mother, but recently watching my sister living through this horrible disease with her daughter made me realize that the very core of your soul and being can most often be your strength and guide. And that life may bring you to your knees, but it is you who decides when and if you will get up. She is my pillar of strength and someone I love very much.