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“Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.” Anonymous

“The Lord sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the lord looks on the heart. I Samuel 16:7 (ESV)

 

Once upon a time, there existed two sisters. The older sister was born to a lovely couple at a time of hopefulness in the late fifties. They were quite ecstatic with the birth of their newborn daughter. She was of healthy development, and according to her biased parents, a beautiful and easy baby. In the next year, the mother became pregnant again, and their highly anticipated child was born two years after her sister. She, too, was welcomed with much love. A few months later, however, there appeared to be something amiss with the younger sister. Although the parents were not educated or worldly, they were highly intelligent and perceptive. The couple knew something was not right, but the local pediatricians dismissed their concerns. Finally after several visits, one of the pediatricians validated the parents’ questions and recommended they go to Massachusetts Eye and Ear Hospital. The parents followed through, and much to their distress, the younger sister was evaluated and declared legally blind. In addition, because of her unusual physical appearance, questions arose about her level of intelligence, but to the relief of all especially the parents, the younger sister tested in the superior range of intelligence.

In the early sixties, the public schools were not integrated for special needs, and the parents were concerned about how to attend to the younger sister’s learning. The older sister was flourishing in the public schools, but with dread, the parents realized they would have to send the younger sister away to receive an education. Following much exploration, Perkins’ School for the Blind was determined to be the best place for her needs. At the time, children attended school as young as four if they had a later birth date in the same year. The parents delayed the younger sister’s entrance until she was almost six, but it was clear the younger sister would have to board due to the family’s geographical location an hour outside of Boston. From the onset the younger sister was most unhappy about being away from her close family. She cried relentlessly. For the next seven to eight years, the father would complete his arduous factory job on Fridays and retrieve his beloved daughter from school in the late afternoon. When he returned her every Monday, he, too, would cry when he deposited the bereft, younger sister to school. Come rain or snow, the father never missed a weekend to bring the younger sister home.

Over these uneasy years, the older sister was fine for the most part. She was quite small in stature, however, and occasionally, referred to as “shrimp”or “midget.” One time when she was age ten, the older sister was physically accosted by a much bigger child who had been singling her out for quite some time. As a result of this bullying, the mother transferred her to a private school, and the older sister thrived. Although such misuse of power occurred on occasion, the older sister became quite feisty and did well in the ensuing years. Eventually, public schools introduced services for special needs’ children, and at age 13, the younger sister came home permanently

By the mid seventies, the older sister graduated and attended college, and the parents focused their attention on the younger sister. They became increasingly concerned about her future. When she graduated from high school, the younger sister attended secretarial school. The parents continued to worry about her well being and bought her a dog, but it became their dog. The younger sister spent much time with a lovely neighbor and her family, but the parents did not believe it was enough so they supported her purchase of a CB Radio. For those who recall the CB Radio, it was a precursor to the Internet for communication. The younger sister began using this device with much enthusiasm and vigor. Thus, it opened up her world. Within a short time, she and a CB buddy began communicating with two brothers. The younger sister spent much time bantering with the older of the two. After much time, the younger sister eventually invited this man to her home. For this initial visit, the older sister was not present. She was a junior in college and away on vacation. When she returned from her trip, the parents told her about this event. According to the parents, he was a healthy, attractive, hard-working man who appeared eager to assist the younger sister. The older sister questioned the possibility of the communication and encounter as being more than a friendship. Out of protection for the young sister, the parents immediately chastened the older sister and emphatically stated, “Do not get her hopes up!” The older sister understood and acquiesced, but….The older sister was ultimately correct.

The lovely man who had his own loss and suffering fell in love with the younger sister.  He saw her as beautiful inside and out, and they married when the younger sister was age 19. Nine months later, their first daughter was born, and seventeen months later, their second daughter was born. The older sister continued her education in the helping profession and became successful in her career eventually marrying. The younger sister and her husband raised their lovely daughters who pursued excellence and attained graduate degrees. The oldest daughter married and has two children. The youngest daughter continues to accomplish through writing and publishing in her field. The younger sister and her husband have remained happily married for almost 37 years. The lovely husband continues to view his wife as loving and beautiful.

Now, I have heard remarkable stories over the years. It has helped me encourage people to never give up and to recognize nothing is truly constant. This particular story, however, is especially poignant and meaningful to me. It reinforces my belief in the inexplicable, the improbable and the belief to always remain open to the possibilities. Why, you might wonder, how I know it so well? I am the older sister.