Sixteen Years Ago

About sixteen years ago, my life changed dramatically.

About sixteen years ago, my parents’ lives changed dramatically.

About sixteen years ago, I got a new sister. And tonight, she graduates high school.


I doubt Dee will ever read this, but there are a lot of things I doubted Dee would ever do. Tie her shoes, learn to read, ride a bike, or any of the other normal stuff kids are supposed to do. Now she wears a cap and gown and gets to walk across the stage at Great Falls High.

I think a great deal about the sacrifices my parents have made in the last sixteen years when they adopted Dee. Adoption isn’t easy and adopting someone with unknown special needs is even tougher. But they didn’t bat an eye. They knew what the right decision was and made it without hesitation.

I hope to have that courage one day.

Courage is an interesting word isn’t it. The great cowboy John Wayne once said, “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.”

That’s exactly what my parents did. They knew the road ahead of them would be difficult. They knew it wouldn’t be easy. But they saddled up anyway.

To my mom and dad, thanks for being the kind of people I aspire to be someday. You should be celebrated as much as any graduate this weekend because of the lives you made better sixteen years ago.


Some two weeks ago, Dee came home from State Special Olympics late Saturday night. That next morning I was reading the newspaper when Dee bounded into the room beaming from ear to ear, her silver and bronze medals clinking off one another as she swung them toward me.

Dee had woken up early that morning for one reason, so that she could show me her medals and tell me about her events.

That moment really hit home.

It made me think about how proud I was of Dee. How proud I was that she was a Special Olympian. How God damn proud I was to be her brother and how proud I was of all that she’s accomplished.

The real world ain’t fair folks.

Why do people get dealt difficult hands? Why are the cards stacked against them like they were Dee? And why have I taken for granted so many things that Dee struggles with daily?


So tonight, as my sister and parents head out the door to attend graduation I am reminded just how far we’ve come, how far Dee’s come. It was about sixteen years ago that all our lives changed dramatically. Sixteen years ago, that my parents took a chance.

And sixteen years ago, that I gained a sister.


I’m proud of you Dee, more than you’ll ever know.

Your Brother,




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