And that sums up my sister right there. She knew who she was, and she wanted to know who you were.
She was all about relationships . . . well . . . and popcorn . . . and whipped cream . . . and nail polish . . . and dancing . . . spaghetti . . . Santa Claus . . . you get the picture.
Jamie was born with Down Syndrome. We called her our Peter Pan sister because she would never grow up. Christmas was always an adventure and simple pleasures were all she needed. And my parents told us that God only gave certain families a Peter Pan sister or brother so we felt special.
However, Jamie could be ornery, a bit devious, stubborn (she was 1/4 Irish, you know), but she was also pure in heart, and she loved life.
She won bowling trophies, a gold medal in gymnastics at the Special Olympics, has been to Hawaii and attended summer camp.
She was blessed to have three families. First, us, her biological family, which consisted of a mother she loved, a father she adored, an older brother who teased her unmercifully, a younger sister whom she made sure understood the sibling hierarchy, and me, her fellow middle sibling — which I felt gave us a special bond.
Then she had her Gateway family—those who lived life with her 24/7. A very special group of people who do what they do out of love. Gill, who has been her second mother for the past 24 years. Daniel, Moses, Peter, and Dan who have been her father figures. Alita, Junior, and Priak, who have been her one-on-one caretakers for the past few years, and all the other staff members who have loved on her. Then, of course, there are her Gateway “brothers and sisters”: Jay, Steven, Francie, Bonnie, Amanda, Eloise, and Kimberly.
Finally, there is her heavenly family. Though I look forward to the time I will see my father, my grandparents, and my aunts and uncles and cousins who have gone before me, I most look forward to seeing Jamie in her perfect body and mind. And I look forward to having a long conversation with my sister.
That is if she has time for me, because she has a lot of people to go up to in heaven and say . . . “What’s your name? . . . I’m Jamie Peterson.”