Posted: August 24, 2012 in Children, Life, Society
Tags: , , , , , ,

I want to talk about my sister. Carmen is just a year younger than me, but seems many more years younger than me.  Before I go into my relationship with her, I have to tell her story.

Shortly after my Mom gave birth to Carmen, my father left the us. Esteban was 3, I was 1 and Carmen was barely a month old.  Not only abandoned us, but left my mother in debt. The rent was severely past due, all utilities were off and mom didn’t have a cent to her name.

So she got loans from distant cousins, asked the local priest for help and started looking for housing. The Father referred my mother to a woman in the daycare center. She agreed to care for all three of us in our apartment for several hours.

In one day, my mother secured housing for all of us. Feeling victorious, she went back to our apartment. The neighbors told her that everyone had gone to the hospital.

My mother, knowing that we all had colds, thought maybe we had a fever or something. The hospital was a few blocks away and my mother ran there. That was when the nightmare started.

My mother was informed by hospital staff and police that Carmen’s skull was cracked from ear to ear. She had suffered massive brain damage. The babysitter had dropped her on the kitchen floor.

After several weeks in the hospital, Carmen came home completely blind. She cried all the time, required special care and therapy. After almost 3 years, Carmen was still blind, but thriving.

Then a second blow rocked our family to the core. Carmen suffered a severe bout of spinal meningitis. My grandparents were visiting from Mexico at the time. Carmen woke screaming, as if someone were killing her.

She was burning up. My mother gave her an ice bath, wrapped her naked body in a sheet and called an ambulance. She went into several violent seizures, then mercifully a coma.

Several doctors told my mother Carmen would never walk, talk or have a normal life.  After months, my mother took her unresponsive daughter home.  Carmen wouldn’t even look at my mother.

Then my mother began to sing to her and Carmen looked at her. It took four years of physical therapy to get Carmen to speak, walk, go to the toilet and laugh. Everyone in her life was her therapist.

Meningitis gave us one blessing.  Carmen’s sight was slightly restored. She was now partially blind or ‘legally’ blind.  Carmen was and is very childlike. This made her a target in school.

As I mentioned before, I was the victim of bullying. Carmen was bullied as well, but she had a solution. I was not above going to blows (with someone I feared) when it came to Carmen.

I was the insanely outraged sister, whenever she was picked on. In my mind, there was nothing scummier than picking on a disabled person. Then there was my mother.

I was ultra-critical of her parenting methods when it came to Carmen.  Many times Carmen got lost on the bus and I would be losing my mind. My mother kept saying, she’s fine.

I would pray to God to bring her home. When Carmen got home (8 hours later), I wept and embraced her. I was afraid of the world. I was sure it was going to eat her up.

It took years to get her to read. She did graduate from high school, but she is unable to retain most of her memory. That said, Carmen wanted a normal life. Almost 4 years ago, she got married.

It was a bad marriage to say the very least. Her ex was abusive, controlling and a massive burden to Carmen. Her ex was wheelchair-bound and diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

He refused to wear diapers or be attended by a nurse, thus making her life hell. If he was able-bodied, no telling what I would have done to him.  When her divorce was finalized, we all celebrated!

I love, resent, then love some more, my dear sweet Carmen. Today she lives with my mother about three miles away. She claims she will never marry again. I think she’s married to herself.

  1. wow what a story. PS I never want some random to stranger to babysit my child. I will always remember this story. thank you.


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