As my special needs’ daughter Kelsey gracefully, ages into her forties, I have learned once again, just how innocent and beautiful she is.

Kelsey does not live by her married siblings and their children, Kelsey’s nieces and nephews. As each of Kelsey’s siblings has married, they moved to other states outside the Midwest.

In fact, they all live west of the Rockies at least a thousand miles away. This distance prevents Kelsey from watching her nieces and nephews grow or enjoying their activities. As a result, Kelsey typically sees her nine nieces and seven nephews, yes 16 of them, once a year.

Kelsey would first meet them as newborns. The next year, she’d see them walking. The following year, they’d be talking.

As the years passed, the nieces and nephews would visit during summer vacations or holidays. The kids had grown taller (and wider), and had entered school, sports, dance lessons, or Scouts.

The good news is Kelsey’s youngest sibling, Jeremy and his wife Lindsey settled close by. And baby Adalynn joined a year later.

What a treat it has been for Kelsey, who will never have children, to see Addie once a week.

We all know newborns cry a lot. However, I don’t think Kelsey knew this. One evening, when Lindsey came by to visit, baby Addie was not in a good mood. I think it was colic.

Anyway, after two hours of crying, Lindsey mentioned that she should probably head home.

Kelsey whispered to her, “You better take that baby with you, when you go.”

I almost died laughing.

I reminded Kelsey that we don’t hurt other’s feelings. Kelsey immediately said she was sorry.

During the past few months when Kelsey has gone to visit Addie she has come home with a new vocabulary.

Kelsey has not stopped talking about onesies. It’s like she is now a baby expert.

Kelsey identifies Addie’s new pacifier as a rub-a-nud (WubbaNub).

She also mentions that Addie wears campers swappers, size 12. Actually, the diapers are Pampers’ Swaddlers, size 2.

All of these baby words have become a regular part of Kelsey’s vocabulary. And she is very proud of herself.

There is a special connection between these two.

As I’ve watched the exchanges between Kelsey and Addie, the sweetness brings tears to my eyes.

There was one day when Addie was fixed on Kelsey like she had seen her before.

There is no doubt in my mind that Addie met Kelsey’s twin, Kristin, in Heaven. Kelsey and Kristin were identical twins.

Although, Kelsey may never be a mother, she is an extraordinary aunt with a lot of love inside.


-- Diane Mack is coordinator of Putting Families First, Jackson County’s Family Week Foundation. Email her at or visit