In the wake of her sister’s sudden death, a woman from De Moines, Iowa, has herself stepped into the role of mom for her five nieces and one nephew. Debra Simmons is adopting all six children, aged 6 to 19 years, as the family grieves its immense loss together.
While Simmons has exhausted her savings on giving her sister a beautiful homegoing, she told The Epoch Times, “I will get through with God.”
When Jamie Ann Clarke was rushed to a hospital by ambulance in January, Simmons raced to be by her side. Clarke had suffered a massive heart attack a week after major surgery at the age of 35.
“They let me see her, me and her oldest daughter, for a brief moment, and I just yelled in her ear, ‘sister, you gotta fight. Don’t give up!,'” Simmons told KCCI.
Still in shock at her passing on Jan. 22, the family have become close. Simmons’s grieving nephew, Jae’vontae, expressed how hard it was to be without his mother. “I feel like a part of me is missing and I’ll never get it back,” he said.
Clarke, who was a cashier at Price Chopper and substitute associate employed by the Des Moines Public School District at Ruby Van Meter School, had a passion for working with kids with disabilities, according to her obituary. The mom of six was a devoted churchgoer and loved God with “all of her heart, mind, and soul.”
Above all, she loved her family and her parents with all her heart.
Simmons, who has two surviving sisters and three brothers, is also providing care for her elderly parents as they recover from COVID-19. She plans to formally adopt her nieces and nephew as soon as she is able.
“I can never fill my sister’s shoes but I vow to do my best with all 6 of her babies,” she posted on Facebook.
The De Moines community has rallied around in support of the struggling family of seven. The town’s Paparazzi Hair Studio and Spa also held a curbside drive on May 2, collecting clothing, shoes, and gift cards for the siblings.
“I will make sure that they do have a bright future,” Simmons said.