My Sister, Donna

Fifty-six years ago today, a little blond- headed, blue-eyed baby girl was born to my mom and dad.  Her name was Donna.  She was the first child born to my mom and dad, and she was born with Down’s Syndrome.  The doctor encouraged my mom and dad to institutionalize her.  They were young and he didn’t think they ought to be “burdened” with a Down’s Syndrome child.  My mom and dad summarily dismissed his recommendation, brought her home and loved her until her death just nine short years later.

I was three years old when my sister Donna died.  Thus my memories are pretty sketchy.  But from what I have been told, my sister really loved me.  After all, she was a 7-9 year old girl and I was a “living” doll to play with.  Growing up in my family, I was very aware that I had an older sister who died as a child, but I was too young to grasp the depth of the loss.  Now that I am a parent of four children myself, I can better understand the depth of pain and loss my parents must have experienced.  When each of my four children turned nine years of age, I contemplated what it would be like to lose them which made my heart break for my mom and dad.

But on this day that marks the 56th year of my oldest sister’s birth, there are a few things I know.

  • I know my mom and dad must have a greater desire and motivation to go to heaven today than they did before Donna ever entered their lives.  Won’t heaven be a wonderful reunion?
  • I know that a person’s value is not measured in what they accomplish in life, but by in whose image they are made.  Due to Donna’s mental shortcomings, she would have never been “normal,” but she was made in the image of God; her innocence was a daily reflection of God, and she taught others to love like God.
  • I know that the imperfection in Donna’s body wasn’t nearly as glaring or noticeable as the imperfections in the souls of many “normal” people.

Happy Birthday, Donna.

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Comments 6

  • Steve, Thanks for being so sensitive and understanding about Donna. It brought some tears to my eyes. I just now read this. We got home today. 10/13,
    Love you,

  • Steve, I too remember Donna!!! I really appreciate the impact she had on us/ your family/you and your wonderful reflection on her life!!! That reunion you talk about will be glorious and we will be made full because it will include Jesus and our other loved ones!! THANK YOU FOR SHARING THESE REFLECTIONS/FEELINGS!! They will make us better and help us to grow in our relationship with God and one another!!! Hope all is well with you/your family!! Stop in when you come through the area!! Duane

  • Thanks, Steve. I am convinced we are all more compassionate people because Donna was in our lives.

  • I have two friends that are blessed with children with Down Syndrome. Each child brings so much joy to their lives. Your story about your sister Donna is very sweet. Bless you

  • My oldest sister has Down Syndrome. When she was born the Dr. tried to convince my Mom and Dad to put her in a institution. He told them that she would never live past her 20’s and would never have any quality of life. She has always been the happiest person. On March 29th she turned 59 yrs. old. She is a blessing to our entire family and anyone who meets her. She loves everyone and very few people can look at her without smiling back at her.

  • I have a nephew who was deprived of oxygen during his delivery. He has been in a wheelchair since he was a child; cerebral palsy limiting his movement and his speech. They too were encouraged by doctors to institutionalize him. They were told he would never be more than a ‘vegetable’ and that he would have no quality of life. They were told that he would not live past 8 years old.
    He is now 39 years old. He owns a computer repair business … and has a beautiful and healthy daughter.

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