From the time Mandy was a little girl, her heart contained a treasure chamber which, for years, was filled only with her cries to God for a little sister. Her unwavering hope kept it in a constant state of readiness as she waited year after year.
I explained that sometimes, God’s answer is, “No.”
She gave me an incredulous look and said, “Eh heh.”
I had to laugh at that, and walked away telling God, “This is Your department!”
Sure enough, when Mandy was twelve, I found out I was pregnant. I’ll never forget Mandy’s reaction.
She jumped up and yelled, “I knew it! I just knew it!”
When Hannah was born, Mandy was overjoyed. She had her treasure. The cries of her heart were replaced with laughter and love. She had such a peaceful look of absolute contentment.
When Hannah was diagnosed with autism and seizure disorder, Mandy was always ready to help in any way. She learned techniques to help Hannah regain speech and learn to make eye-contact, coping skills, social skills, etc. Her unwavering hope and love sustained her in her determination to not allow her treasured sister to be stolen from her.
Throughout high school, Mandy would get up night after night to help me clean up when Hannah was sick after having seizures, yet she would still be ready on time for school without complaint.
Her love for Hannah knew no bounds.
She Can Do This
A vital part of Hannah’s development was to have as many new experiences as possible.
When Mandy planned her wedding, she asked Hannah to be her flower-girl. I was nervous, because Hannah had a lot of anxiety when attention was drawn to her.
Mandy gave me a “knowing” look and said, “It’s okay, Mom. She can do this.” There was no limit to Mandy’s unwavering hope.
Hannah performed her job as flower girl perfectly!
Her love for Mandy overcame every fear and obstacle on Mandy’s special day.
Although we live a thousand miles apart, Mandy has made it a point to stay involved in Hannah’s life. Hannah turns to her for advice and it is always filled with insight and amazing wisdom.
A Blessing And A Gift
Hannah talked to Mandy one day when she was discouraged about not having many friends.
Mandy said, “I can understand how it would be frustrating for you, but I see your social skills as a blessing and a gift. I love being your sister and your friend, because you are true, you are real and you are honest. There are going to be kids that are cruel and don’t want to be friends. That’s their loss. But I am always blown away by you – you don’t judge people by how they look or the way they act or their family situations.
You love people plain and simple and that’s just like Jesus. He got hurt too and sometimes people didn’t want to be his friends but he still loved them. And guess what? He had some pretty awesome friends. He had a lot of friends, but – and I think this is really cool – Jesus only had three best friends. They were the best friends in the world to Him. If you keep loving people and giving them a chance, you are going to have amazing friends!”
Hannah giggled and her smile was brighter than it had been in quite some time.
Autism Adds To The Fun
Mandy is great at making every day experiences fun, and sometimes traits of autism add to the fun, like Hannah’s ultra-sensitive feet.
Mandy decided one day that Hannah needed to know what it was like to have her toenails polished.
“Ah!” Hannah squealed bursting into laughter. “I don’t know if I could stand that!”
“I understand,” Mandy said. “But let’s at least try. If you want me to stop, just say so and I will.”
I listened to this conversation with amusement. This is either going to be really fun or really disastrous! In either case, I have to see this!
Mandy just touched her foot and Hannah started laughing and squealing. She covered her face with her hands to prevent herself from telling Mandy to stop. We couldn’t help but laugh with her. I don’t think anyone ever had more fun polishing someone’s toenails!
When Hannah was going to graduate from high school, Mandy simply had to be here. She made the necessary arrangements for her four kids and bought an airline ticket. She had an injured knee, but made her way through crowded airports – running through one in order to make her connecting flight. Her knee was incredibly sore when she got here, but she was here. No one was more thrilled than Hannah to have her sister here for her special day. And for Mandy, it was the fulfillment of her unwavering hope.
The love and devotion Mandy and Hannah have for each other has blessed this mom’s heart countless times as I’ve watched it overcome impossible obstacles. Their hearts are forever knit together and I am SO blessed!