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Today Im the happiest brother in the world
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It was one of the most beautiful sights I had ever seen: My sister leaving UC Davis Medical Center in a wheelchair Sunday afternoon.

Seven days earlier, she had been rushed to the hospital after a kidney stone triggered a massive infection. At one point they needed a defibrillator as her heart was beating too fast. She ended up spending two days in the intensive care unit where she was in critical condition.

The news hit me hard when I got it on Tuesday. After all she was only 48 and had two kids. I can only imagine what they were going through as well as her husband Chris.

Family - and sibling - dynamics are all unique. You’d never mistake the Wyatt family for the Waltons. A lot of that may be due to the fact our dad died when Mary was 2 leaving mom to raise four kids on her own.

Both sides of our family - the Wyatts and the Towles - have independence streaks a hundred miles long to begin with. Mom made the conscious decision that raising her kids after dad died was her absolute top priority bar none. That meant, of course, she needed to work to feed, clothe, and shelter us as well as pay for everything from glasses for me to braces for Mary.

The brothers were old enough - I was 7 while my other two brothers were 11 and 13 - but Mary wasn’t. As a result we pitched in a lot more than brothers typically would in watching their little sister.

I like to think I’m a bit closer to Mary than my other brothers. It may have something to do with both of us being on the receiving end of teasing that was borderline bullying. Kids are still kids no matter how grown up they have to be due to the situation.

In fairness, everyone contributed something a bit different to Mary as she was growing up.

Richard - the brother that was an architect - helped her with calculus in high school.

I got the hour to two-hour calls after getting off work at midnight when she was at Chico State when she needed help with a term paper.

And when it came for her buying her first new car after she became a teacher, I co-signed and Richard provided her a loan for the down payment.

I was lucky enough to be able to pay for two vacation trips to Disneyland for my sister, mom and myself.

It is where she got major bruises on her knees from riding in the front car of the Matterhorn eight times a day for three straight days before the amusement park opened to general admission folks. It was the advantage of staying at the Disneyland Hotel.

Years later she talked me into filling a vacant chaperone spot for her senior class trip. Three of her classmates had walked off the place to go to the bathroom before it left Sacramento and subsequently were put on a flight to another airport. You haven’t lived until you’ve tried to secure a rental car at Ontario Airport to get to Los Angeles International on a Friday evening,

The return trip was even more interesting. They had “lost” reservations on the Air California flight for the 120 senior class members. They were holding the plane as the ticket agent started processing my American Express card - I was the only one in the group of chaperons that had one - when the airline’s Sacramento staff called back to confirm we were booked and paid. To this day that is why I refuse to carry an American Express card as I was dreading trying to get my money back from 120 individuals who had already paid for their tickets.

I felt I had an obligation in both cases since I was on the school board at the time.

I’m probably one of the few brothers who can actually say I was a school board member that formally presented his sister with both her eighth grade and high school diplomas.

Still, it was a complete shock and honor when Mary asked the three of us to walk her down the aisle when she met the love of her live - Chris MacQueen.

I still remember Mary saying that it was a no-brainer since each of us had helped take the place of her not having a father.

It hit me hard. Mom did all of the heavy lifting. I just thought of what we did was what brothers did for sisters. You look out for them. You protect them. And you help them.

When I got news Tuesday morning that is what sent me in a tailspin. This isn’t supposed to happen to your younger sister. She’s the one you look out after.

Thank goodness for modern medical advances and that stubborn streak that comes in Mary’s DNA.

Her smile - despite the pain - was all I needed to see on Sunday to make me the happiest brother in the world.