My sister had not taken a vacation in 22 years.
So when she called a few weeks ago and asked if she could come out for a short visit, I was very surprised. She said she needed a break from her life and wanted to bring her 22-year old daughter to Gonzales. She wanted to see her big brother. I told her to get on the next plane; that she was always welcome to come visit.
Her name is Sharon, and no brother could be prouder of a sister. Not only do I love her as a person, but I have all the respect in the world for her as a mother and as a human being.
The reason she has not taken a vacation in 22 years is life. Her daughter is a fraternal twin to a brother who was born with severe mental and physical handicaps. He needs constant care, has the mind of an 18-month old child, and cannot be left alone. My sister has been there every moment of every hour of every day to care for her son. His name is Drew, and he is a heavenly child who likes to laugh. His mother dotes on his every need, and he has had the best possible life he could have largely in part for the care his mother has given him. To me, she is a saint—an angel from God sent to take care of her fragile son.
I am so proud of her and what she has done to raise her family. I am not sure if I could have handled her situation with as much grace, tenacity and persistence as she has. I don’t think I have the temperament or patience to handle something as demanding as the hand she was dealt.
She has never complained about her lot in life.
It was with great anticipation that I picked Sharon and Jana up from the Austin airport last Wednesday evening. I wasn’t quite sure what she wanted for her first break in 22 years, but I knew if she was leaving the weekend up to me, I was going to make sure she had fun and got to relax while in Texas.
I knew it was going to be a great trip for her right when I picked her up at the airport. I met her and Jana at the United Terminal, and both were grinning from ear-to-ear.
“This weather is absolutely fantastic,” Sharon said as she explained it was 40 degrees colder from where she came from. “Jana already wants to move here.”
Over the next few days I showed the two of them around Gonzales, showed them the history, and took them on a home tour. They fell in love with our little town.
One afternoon we went to Shiner and took the brewery tour, and then I treated them to Howard’s and Antiques, Arts and Beer.
On Friday afternoon, we went to Port Aransas and my sister just relaxed on the white sands of that marvelous beach. “Oh, Terry, you don’t know how nice it is to just be here and hear the sound of the waves. It is so nice to be able to relax for a change.”
I had to turn my head so she didn’t see the tear come down my face. I felt so happy for her.
We explored Port A, had a luscious seafood dinner at Virginia’s on the Bay, and spent the night there. On Saturday, we drove back to Gonzales and then headed off to San Antonio so they could see the Alamo and the River Walk. They loved it. In fact, I heard my niece call her boyfriend back in Grand Rapids, Mich. and inform him of a life-changing moment for her: “Tanner, this place is great. We need to move here.”
As Yul Brenner said in the Ten Commandments: “So it is written, so it shall be done.”
The rest of the evening was spent talking about how Jana and Tanner could make the statement come true. At the end of the evening, we went to the Come and Take It for pizza and the NCAA basketball tournament. While there, I ran into Sandi Kennedy who runs the Elks Children’s Camp in Ottine. Initially the conversation was supposed to be about me congratulating her on her Texas Tech Red Raiders victory over my Michigan Wolverines, but the conversation quickly turned to my sister and her son Drew. When I explained to her why Sharon had come to visit and what she has gone through in her life, Sandi immediately got up, walked over to my sister, and offered any and all the help she could to get additional help and assistance for Drew.
It was a magnificent gesture on Sandi’s part, and my sister and niece were touched to the core by this random act of kindness.
On Sunday, I had to say goodbye. I was depressed to see them go, but both of them at the airport said words that warm the heart: “Goodbye. We love you and thank you for the fantastic time you gave us. We will be back. Soon.”
Hurry back little sister. The arms of Texas are open to you anytime.