We Take Care of Our Own

The folks in our small town knew just what to do when my fam­ily needed a help­ing hand.


y baby brother came into the world two weeks af­ter I started high school. At

14, I was the old­est of three and hoped this baby wasn’t go­ing to rain on my pa­rade very much. Be­ing a big sis­ter again just wasn’t part of my plan.

But two min­utes af­ter Keith was born, Mom had a stroke. The doc­tor told Dad if it had hap­pened dur­ing the de­liv­ery the stroke likely would have killed them both.

When Dad came home, he said the fu­ture was un­cer­tain be­cause Mom might not sur­vive. I was so scared when he pulled me onto his lap and said, “Well, lit­tle girl, looks like we’ve got a baby to raise.” My strong fa­ther was clearly pet­ri­fied. He was un­in­ten­tion­ally lean­ing on me to help him through it.

But I need not have wor­ried. Keith’s ar­rival brought out the very

Mbest in Way­land, Michi­gan. The old say­ing, “We take care of our own,” was never bet­ter il­lus­trated. A young cou­ple in our church of­fered to care for Keith un­til we could man­age him our­selves. I can’t be­lieve they were will­ing to take on a new­born when they had two young boys at home. Their help made all the dif­fer­ence.

We ben­e­fited from many other acts of kind­ness. The lo­cal Catholic church held a Mass for Mom—and we weren’t Catholic! Meals showed up at din­ner­time for weeks. The lawn got mowed, and I don’t think Dad even knew who was do­ing it.

Keith stayed with his surrogate fam­ily for over a month—and the story ends hap­pily. He grew like lit­tle ba­bies do, Mom re­cov­ered, and I grew up a lit­tle faster than planned, but oh so grate­ful.

Years later, my friend He­len found out she was go­ing to have twins, and her lit­tle girl would be 15 months old when the ba­bies ar­rived. Not only did we hold a baby shower, but I mar­shaled the ef­fort to have din­ner de­liv­ered for the first few weeks she was home.

He­len, who grew up in a sub­urb in Cal­i­for­nia, had never heard of such a thing—peo­ple go­ing out of their way to help some­one else. She was used to not even know­ing her neigh­bors. But I said, “We’re trans­planted Mid­west­ern­ers, and we take care of our own!”

Patti (left), Mom and sis­ter Deb­bie

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