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Sister Elaine: A good sport, unwittingly witty and a trouper

My brother Kenneth and I came down with the measles at the same time; I was 8, he was 12. Our dad gave us a choice: We could haul our little splotchy bodies to Mama and Papa Hudgins’ house down on the farm or to Mama and Papa Stevens’ house in town. But we couldn’t stay home.
We chose the farm, where Mama Hudgins sequestered us in a dark bedroom with the shades pulled and the calendar turned to the wall so we wouldn’t strain our eyes trying to read it. 
When we were allowed to go home, two weeks later, we laid eyes on the little bundle of smiles and flatulence who was the reason we were quarantined. Her name was Joyce Elaine Hudgins. We now had a baby sister.
I’d never paid much attention to babies before, but this one surely was the prettiest ever born. She was a blonde with a round, pink face and a ready smile, always eager, it seemed, to get her picture made. She smelled like Nestles.
When she was about a year old, we packed up our belongings and moved from the four rooms we had rented for 10 years and back into the house where I was born, about a half-mile away. Elaine got her own room.
As she grew older, my infatuation with baby sister gave way to mischief. I didn’t keep a record of pranks I pulled on her, but I remember a few:
I crouched outside her bedroom window one night and shined a flashlight under my chin to produce ominous shadows on my face and fear in sister’s heart. I asked her to close her eyes and stick out her tongue and surprised her with a few drops of Tabasco hot sauce. I ran a wind-up train engine through her beautiful curls, which eventually had to be cut free. She claims I forced her to stay two steps behind me when we walked to school, but I don’t remember that.
Elaine was a good sport through it all, honest to a fault, always witty without trying to be, a delight to have around. But her life hasn’t been carefree. She was blindsided, at the age of 9, with diabetes. She took it all in stride. She endured her daily shots and watched her diet closely.
But even the most careful patients sometimes suffer long-term effects from diabetes. They experience vision problems, circulation problems, kidney damage. At 40 years old, Elaine’s kidneys had failed. She needed a transplant.
On April 4, 1990, she got a kidney. It was a perfect match. Today, she and husband Mike Wilson are enjoying retirement. They have two children, one grandchild and another one on the way. Elaine faces each day with faith.
This April 4, Easter Sunday, our family will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the rebirth of Elaine’s donated kidney. She is doing just fine, thank you, with one good kidney.
And so am I.

Phil Hudgins’ column is published in many newspapers around the Southeast.