Thanksgiving weekend is always a weekend of memories. Of course, it is a natural family time, when family and friends come together for a turkey dinner.

Thanksgiving weekend is always a weekend of memories. Of course, it is a natural family time, when family and friends come together for a turkey dinner.

However, over 30 years ago, shortly after a Thanksgiving dinner, I became critically ill.

At that time, our family was living in California, with our 10-month old little boy. I was expecting twins.

After months of sickness and medical procedures to determine viability of the twins, my California obstetricians determined there were no signs of life.

Within a short time, as they suspected, I became very ill and was hospitalized. I had an IV, NG tube, and catheter, to ease the pain.

A few days later, the twins were born.

I still remember a cold quiet delivery room, a heavy sedation, and a nurse whispering, “Did you see your twin girls?”

I viewed the twins, for a brief moment. Then, the transport team whisked them away.

Thirty-six years ago this week, I delivered twin baby girls born at 25 weeks gestation, four months early.

The twins were small, weighing in at 1 pound 2 ounces and 2 pound 3 ounces. They were transferred to a children's hospital neonatal intensive care unit.

It seems like yesterday, when I walked into the NICU and saw the maize of beeping, buzzing, whooshing machines and isolettes. This was the mid 1970s and NICUs were loud places.

A kind receptionist directed me to the Mack twins, who were the center of attention. The nurses had appropriately named them, Big Mack and Little Mack. They were so tiny.

Five days later, Kristin, Little Mack, passed away.

However, this week, Kelsey, or “Big Mack,” will celebrate her 36th - birthday. This seems nearly impossible.

Kelsey states she is 22, or 21, maybe 27. She gets confused. She has short curly brown hair, with a natural highlight.

She loves her family, nearly worships her siblings. Jared, her oldest brother was her protector while growing up. They remain 10 months apart and a thousand miles in distance. To Kelsey, he is still her hero.

Kelsey walks with a walker. She has several disabilities, including cerebral palsy, blindness, heart and liver diseases, and she is intellectually disabled. She does not have children, and will probably never marry.

Kelsey has a compassion so deep that she constantly worries about anyone with medical needs. She is forgiving, innocent, honest, sweet, and caring, all wrapped into one.

I have often thought about what my life would be like without her. We are nearly joined at the hip, still living together, still a mommy and her daughter, a little girl daughter. I see her almost every day.

My entire family life is molded around her needs. Ongoing medical appointments, daily health challenges, and round the clock care consume every moment of life.

In many ways, Kelsey is still the same, as she was 36 years ago. However, it is I and my family who have been shaped and influenced.

Today, I am proud to say that I am her mother, a fierce advocate, speaking on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves, holding those who should be held responsible for their programs and services, and protecting them with meticulous precision while overseeing their 24-7 care.

And I am still watching over my precious preemie, a little one who continues to need … intensive care.

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