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By Camille McClanahan
Every family has skeletons and secrets, those things you just don’t talk about at family gatherings. Mine is no different.
My brother, Dustin and I have different mothers but the same biological father. On May 30, 1988, my brother, Dustin Ryan Woods was born. He weighed just over a pound, being 3 months premature, when he was born and the doctors all thought he was a lost cause.
I was 3-years old when Dustin was born. I remember bits and pieces of his birth. I remember seeing him in his incubator, barely tall enough to see over it. He was so tiny, tiny enough that he could fit in the palm of your hand.
I remember everybody around me crying. I wondered why everybody was so upset but I was caught up in my own little world, I had a baby brother, one of my very own.
As I got older I began to understand why everyone was so upset on that day. When his biological mother found out that Dustin, if he survived, was not going to be a normal child. As the days went on, my Mamaw was the one at the hospital, with Dustin still hanging on by a thread. Neither of Dustin’s biological parents wanted him, so my Mamaw and Papaw adopted Dustin as their own.
As the years went on, Dustin had his ups and downs. He has had two strokes, so he’s hard to understand sometimes but he can get his point across if he wants to. Dustin has had so many surgerys on his brain and his body. There were times the doctors didn’t expect him to make it through another surgery. He is such a fighter and I think we both got the stubbornness. Mamaw says it’s the Woods’ gene.
He has such a bright outlook on life. He has never been one to wallow in self-pity or ask “why me?” nor does he want anybody else to feel sorry for him. He just rolls with everything that’s been thrown his way.
I am amazed at his attitude and outlook. I stop and think sometimes about what might have been, if he could walk and talk and function like a normal person. I get angry sometimes, because life is not fair and sometimes it’s just overwhelming sadness at what could have been.
We get so caught up in everyday life that we take for granted the little things. I believe that everything happens for a reason. I believe that there is a reason Dustin is here, despite all odds against him. The people that come into our lives and the things that happen along the way is all for a reason. We might not understand now but looking back it all seems to make sense.
Dustin will be 24 years-old in May. He graduated high school recently and has considered going to college. The doctors, as well as I, are amazed at how far he’s come. I worry about him constantly, just like big sisters do. A sister’s love for her brother is something no one can break. I could be having the worst day and he’ll be able to put a smile on my face and it’s always been that way. Now that’s something to hang on to.
He is and always will be one of the most important people in my life. I’ve learned to accept that some people just think he’s an inconvenience. Now at times, he can be difficult, stubborn and bull-headed but he has never been nor will he ever be an inconvenience to me. Dustin is a miracle, an angel, and I am truly blessed to call him my brother.
(Camille McClanahan is editorial assistant for the Grant County News. She can be reached at 824-3343 or email@example.com.)