It seemed like my little sister was always happy. She only cried when Mother or I wouldn’t let it be her way. It was cute and made me happy inside. But my sister Vada wasn’t like my other sister’s. Due to complication’s at birth she was mentally handicapped. I didn’t understand when I was younger. It didn’t seem to compute with me that my 2 year old little sister was handicapped. Over the years I did understand though, even if it wasn’t easy.
I was jealous often of her. My Mom was always telling me “Your sister has special needs Hun, you know that.” Yes of course I knew that, but didn’t want to accept it, and everything that it meant. I wanted attention too. I got wonderful grades and did great things and here this girl who could barely speak properly, didn’t seem to understand barely anything, and she was the star of the show. It didn’t seem fair. I was so childish. Now when I think back about how I felt I’m asking myself, “Why was I so horrible?”
Vada would always be looked at differently. People would always treat her specially because she was special. I think I tried excluding her mainly when I was pushed on to take care of her. Mom and my Step-father needed my help with her, so I was stuck with Vada. I cooked for her, played with her, got her dressed, and put her on the bus to school. She was always with me, and I was with her.
Then one summer day I finally understood her. Her and I were playing outside with my friends. She couldn’t keep up with us, and everyone was getting aggravated that I had brought her along.
“Why did you bring that retard for?” they asked me. For the first time I was angry someone had said that. I look at Vada sadly and then back to them with a scowl. “She’s not a retard! She’s my sister and my best friend, and you will never understand her the way I do!”
That night when I put her to sleep, Vada smiled at me and asked, “Jewel love me?” I nodded and inside wanted to cry. “Of course, I will always love you, and always have.” Vada was my angel, my little sister who meant the world to me.
Now Vada and I are still close. Many times she annoys me, as little sisters often do, when I’m with my friends, or my guy, but I always take time to spend with her and let her know I love her.
I guess it just took a while for me to understand that just because she was different, didn’t make her wrong. Vada wasn’t a mistake, or something not meant to be: she was my sister. I wouldn’t change that for anything.
* Stories From the Heart is an ongoing series of user contributed heart warming stories, that shine light on the Autism experience.