I saved all of my Sibling Day stuff for today because today is my sister’s birthday.
My sister is awesome in all of the normal ways: she’s smart, funny, thoughtful, hard working, a loving daughter, a true friend, a devoted wife, as good an elementary school teacher as has ever lived, and the best athlete in our family (barely!). Normally, that would be enough, but in a fashion typical of my sister, “enough” is never good enough.
My sister is also a life saver and a hero.
At the age of approximately nine my brother was diagnosed with a life-threatening kidney disease which he bravely battled until he was 19 and there was no other option for him but to have his life ruled by his need for dialysis treatment or to have a kidney transplant. The first option just wasn’t an option- to this day he can’t sit still for an hour, never mind for 6-8 hours. The second option would require finding a donor- preferably a close relative. Do I even need to tell you that my sister volunteered before anyone else could even open their mouth to speak? That’s just who she is.
Our little brother- he’s the youngest, my sister is the middle child- turns 40 next month. Thanks to my sister, the last 21 years of his life have been nothing but beautifully, wonderfully, normal. He went to college, he played hockey, he found a job he was spectacularly good at (and which pays him accordingly!), he married a wonderful woman, and he now has two beautiful daughters that he absolutely dotes on. These two little girls absolutely LOVE their “Auntie Beth” and I imagine at some point my brother will sit them down and explain to them that, were it not for their aunt’s selflessness, they might not exist. I don’t know that they could love her any more than they already do, but somehow I think knowing her true role in their lives will make it possible.
As if that were not enough, I don’t think I can adequately describe the role that my sister took on in our family as my father’s Parkinson’s Disease went through its relentless progression. Everyone did their part (my mom, my brother, my brother in-law, etc.), but my sister was our rock. Any normalcy we had during that fifteen year period in our lives was as a result of her love and determination. Make no mistake, it took a toll on her as it did on all of us- maybe more than the rest of us- but she never once bent under the weight of the responsibilities she took up on our family’s behalf. Typical of her, she never thought what she was doing was out of the ordinary- it’s just what you do for your family.
So, that’s my sister.
She’s the reason I have a healthy happy younger brother and two delightful nieces.
She is my constant reminder that there is good in the world and I love her for that and everything else she is and does.