My sister, Mary Kaye, was born with cerebral palsy (CP). She has had a number of other health complications throughout her life which can go a long with CP.
I am 70 years old and Mary is 5 years younger than I. Two brothers fill out our family of 4 children. In our family there was a lot of emphasis on assisting and supporting our sister who had to cope with many difficulties because of her disabilities.
Mary Kaye and I have always felt close as sisters. However we have not lived physically close together for most of our adult life. Even so the bond between us is strong and we have managed to stay in direct contact through phone-calls, letters, visits and other ways. With the development of online platforms we have managed to increase our contact.
Skype has been our lifeline throughout this last year of the Pandemic. We have kept each other company nearly every day. For a large part of last year, I was living on my own in Edinburgh while Mary Kaye was in her apartment in St. Louis, Missouri in the USA. Mary Kaye and I have found ways to “be there” for the other person in some difficult times and to have a few laughs as well.
Mary Kaye’s main carer is my younger brother who also lives St. Louis. I am the second port of call and I support from afar. I have attended online meetings, found information for my sister, involved Mary Kaye with a Befriending organisation and helped in any way I could. But my main role is to be a “listening ear” and “sounding board,” helping her as best I can with emotional support for her in difficult circumstances. The effects of Covid 19 have made life more problematic for Mary Kaye but, in truth, isolation and loneliness have always played a big part in her life.
Mary Kaye and I are grateful that we live in a time of online contact where we can share the rough and the smooth of life with each other. As we are now in our “mature years”, new situations arise regularly that we both find challenge us more than they would have done when we were younger. However, we do our best to keep these direct doors of communication open and positive to work on issues together.
As a newer member of Sibs National adult sibling support group I hope to gain support from other people who understand firsthand what having a disabled sibling brings with it. I also hope that I can offer other Sibs’ members things from my understanding and experience.
Pictured: Jane and her sister, Mary Kaye