30 Days of PF: My Love Code for My Sister

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by Bionews Staff |

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Photo courtesy of Shari George

Day 26 of 30

This Shari George’s story:

“Ma soeur.” Strange how a pet name can become so important, like a code that transmits more than the actual words.

French for “my sister,” these words evoke so many memories — and the memories are the good ones: of growing up together in our mountain community where French was the first language of many of our girlhood ski heroes; of Monsieur Vick, a favorite high school French teacher, a city gentleman seemingly out of place in our rural town; of our mom who remembered her French through her 98 years; of shared conversations over the ups and downs of relationships and parenting; of our trip through France not so long ago but before we had to learn the words of a different foreign language.

For me, and I think for “ma soeur,” saying the words as I left the hospital each day during her pre-transplant days and post-transplant recovery said what we didn’t have to say.

Having a code made it easier, at least for me, when “ma soeur,” who has IPF, underwent a double lung transplant. There are so many things to do, keep track of, make arrangements for, go to, that time speeds past, at least for the caregivers. Energy goes into those activities, tamping down fear and sustaining hope.

Little physical activities, such as me giving my sister hundreds of “hairs” — running my fingers through her thick, beautiful hair (why’d she get the good hair, Mom?) — and her daughter giving endless foot massages, are expressions of devotion but do not offer quite the same connection.

Even saying “I love you” doesn’t quite call up the same love decorated by a shared life. Now, several years later, the words conjure up plans for future adventures that will enrich the code further.

So, to ma soeur: Let’s go to France again, let’s spend more time in Hawaii, let’s visit our ancestral lands in Cornwall and Wales, let’s float the Green River, let’s just hang out.

Note: Shari George’s niece, Christie Patient, writes the “Courage to Care” column for Pulmonary Fibrosis News.

Pulmonary Fibrosis News’ 30 Days of PF campaign will publish one story per day for PF Awareness Month in September. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more stories like this, using the hashtag #30DaysofPF, or read the full series.