Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Thanksgiving Month, Day 11: "I'll Give You My Warm"

When my youngest sister, Deborah Joy, was a wee lass of about 2 or 3 years old, we lived in Coonoor in the Nilgiris, where it would get so extremely cold that hot water bottles and extra wool blankets didn't help much. The houses were not made for temperatures so low that there would be frost on the tea bushes. The house we lived in was cement, with cement floors and no wall-to-wall carpeting or central heating.

In the morning, with hot water bottles cold and the horrid certainty that we had to get out of our beds and face the frigid day, we would shiver under our covers asking for just a few more minutes of warmth.

Then along would come little Debbie Joy. "I'll give you my warm," she'd say, to all of us but especially to Mum, for whom cold mornings were particularly hard. Then this little bit of a girl would climb up onto the bed and cuddle up against us for a few minutes until we felt warm enough to be able to brave the day.

I was thinking about this the other day when Deborah took a day off work to help me with the wedding in the TH. I was remembering how many times every week she helps people, especially me, giving us a little boost for our day or week.

She is one of those people who unselfishly and tirelessly seek to spread warmth and kindness to everyone with whom she comes in contact, but most particularly to her loved ones. 

When I was 17 and she was about 4, we were walking near Johnson Market in Bangalore. She was holding my hand. Several people came up to me that afternoon and complimented me on my beautiful daughter, and I was so proud that everyone thought I was her mother.

Fast forward to the wedding: one of the bride's relatives stopped me and asked, "That girl in the black top - is she your daughter?" The only girl in a black top was Deborah. I was not as thrilled as I was 32 years earlier, I must confess ...

Her compassion for "her" kids at the Children's Hospital knows no bounds. She follows her kids' lives well after they have aged out of the system. She cares for them like they are her own. Her cell phone is always on and all of her families have her number.She is their advocate and their coach and their treatment coordinator and their friend. She has been invited to sit with the family at those tragic occasions where the disease has gotten the better of the child. She mourns each loss deeply.

I am always proud to be recognized as her sister. She helps me at the TH in so many ways. And when she senses that I'm exhausted, she will come down from Calgary and spell me out so I can sneak in a bit of a nap. The staff loves to work with her as she's efficient, knowledgeable, likes to cook and knows what needs to be done. And yet she is sweet and gentle and one of the team when she is working.

Her generosity is legendary among her friends and family. Her nephews love her. Her sisters don't know how we would get along without her. And she's Dad's touchstone - morning and evening she calls him to make sure he's doing well.

She's still giving her warm to all those fortunate enough to know her. 

I for one am very grateful.


  1. Everyone should be so luck as to have a sister like this!

  2. a more beautiful soul in the world is hardly found


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