BENEFITING: ADAPT Community Network
ORGANIZER: ADAPT Community Network
EVENT DATE: Nov 02, 2014
Sometime in February 1989, my grandmother came to me with the biggest news of my then three-year old life: “Defne, we brought you a live doll to play with.” Being a tutu-wearing, Barbie-adoring little girl, I was amazed by these news. Of course, later on in life I realized that this was simply a ploy to cajole me, the first-born daughter, into thinking I was still ruling the household. And so like many other big sisters I met my sister, Mine, under the impression that this little, strange bundle of joy sucking up all the attention in the room was in fact a miraculous, custom-made toy just for me.
In many ways Mine and I were not any different than all of the other sisters around. We looked like each other (except she ALWAYS had better hair), we were dressed in similar clothes, we slept in the same bed, we played, we traveled with our family, loved our dogs, went to the mall to shop and go to the movies, vied for the attention of our parents and got annoyed with each other. But there was one thing that made us unlike many other sisters around us, Mine was special.
Mine was born with cerebral palsy. My memory of our first few years together is hazy. I remember several trips to the U.S. for tests and consultations, a super-friendly physiotherapist who sang Ace of Base songs to us, and a book about a cricket that made noises, which was technically Mine’s but I treated as my own. It was not until a few years later when I started school and met my friends’ sisters that I realized Mine did not walk or talk like them. Looking back, I can only imagine the pain, anxiety and suffering that my parents must have gone through after first learning about Mine's diagnosis. But to me Mine was simply Mine.
Over the years as our family changed in size and shape and Mine and I were blessed with the world’s best step-parents and siblings, Mine undoubtedly became the focal point of our family. Not because she had special needs, but because she beamed with happiness and had unconditional love for each and every one of us. Despite her inability to walk or talk, Mine made friends everywhere she went, learned English and traveled to more places than I did. She loved eating baby back ribs and drinking Coke. She listened to a lot of Turkish pop music, and thanks to my step-father, to opera and classical music. She hated it when we jokingly called her “Chewy” because sometimes her speech reminded us of Chewbacca from Star Wars. She laughed throughout “Iron Lady,” and especially during the harrowing scenes, because Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher reminded her of our grandmother. She was my biggest supporter at each step of my life, always front and center, and always overjoyed at every performance or graduation.
Mine’s disability never stopped her from enjoying life to the fullest and battling all the challenges that she faced. She was, and still is, an inspiration and a constant reminder to me that the human condition is such that we can overcome anything and everything with just the right attitude.
When she left us last June, Mine was training for a marathon with Danny, whom we got to know during a summer sailing camp that Mine attended. She was beyond excited by the challenge, reminded my mom of her training days by pointing at the calendar and could not be convinced that it was ever too hot for them to miss a training session.
On November 2, 2014, I will be running the New York Marathon so that I can complete the one task that Mine put her mind to and could not see through. Just like the many other things we did together as sisters, we will also be crossing the finish line together.
In order to commemorate Mine and help make lives of children and adults with cerebral palsy as fulfilling as Mine's, I will be raising money for United Cerebral Palsy of New York City ("UCP"). UCP is a leading non-profit organization in New York, providing direct services, technology and advocacy to children and adults with cerebral palsy and other developmental disabilities. Its programs enable many disabled individuals, who do not have the means or the support network to live their lives to the fullest, just like Mine did. Please visit UCP’s website for more information: http://www.ucpnyc.org/
Please feel free to share my page with anyone you think would want to support this cause.
Thank you all in advance for your support.