Saturday, January 10, 2015

My sister, my friend

This month of January reminds me of my sisters-in-law. Three of the five were born this month. I grew up with three brothers, and married into a family just like mine: three boys and one girl (who was the baby, like me). I always wanted a sister of my own, and God has blessed me with five!

Let me tell you a bit about my "sisters."

Elizabeth: I met my husband when his sister Liz was 8 years old, and we got married when she was 16.  She has been my little sister longer than she hasn't been my little sister. She was my maid of honor and I was her matron of honor.  Our daughter's middle name was Elizabeth, for our Lizzy. She is my son's godmother, and I am her son's godmother.

If I had to describe Lizzy in one word, I would probably want to use the word "strong," even though that is only one aspect of her personality.  She has been the rock of our family for many years. She took care of her parents until they died, and did so willingly. I know that her brothers are grateful to her for that, even though they might not say it. I know I was grateful, even though it had to be hard for her, given that she had her own family to take care of. Liz is funny (she has that quirky Italian/ Tallo sense of humor), loving and intelligent. She takes care of business when business needs to be taken care of. Writing this post, I can hear her vivacious laughter that makes everybody laugh when they hear it.

Deborah: Of all of my "sisters" I have known Debbie the longest. I met her when we were both young teens. Her family and our family were friends long ago in Calif.  I was happy when she married my brother and we became sisters. Debbie and I have always loved each other, and always been able to share with each other.  We can always make each other laugh. Deb and I laugh at the same things. We love nothing better than hanging out at the beach or the mall or just going out to eat so that we can have a visit and talk. She took care of my brother when he was sick, through the horrors of Alzheimer's, until he passed away. She loves my family and has always been there for us.

Susan: Susan and I are the same age, so we have a lot in common. She came into our family a little over 10 years ago when she married my brother. She and I hit it off and have become really good friends over the years.  We have spent a lot of time together over these years during our visits back home and taking trips to the beach together. She and I have fun when we are together. Susan is a very sweet woman. She can seem shy when you first meet her, but when she opens up to you, you discover a wonderful person. I am so happy to have her in my life. I always look forward to when we get to spend time together as sisters.

Yolanda: Yoli and I are also the same age.  She is absolutely one of the sweetest people I have ever known. Her heart is so big, and she will help anyone who needs her. Yoli is the wife and mother I wanted to be. She is an excellent cook and knows how to do all the cool things with her kids I never found the time to do. Yoli's house is always immaculate, and she always seems to have everything together.

Yoli and I have a bond that I have with none of the others, thankfully. Both she and I have lost children. Yoli's first son Jason died when she was a young mother, long before she married into our family. She was able to comfort me when I lost Lauren. Now Yoli has lost two of her three grandchildren. My heart was broken last year when her grandson Ivan passed away after a long illness, and recently she lost her granddaughter Alexa. Her cause of death is not known. My heart is broken for her again, and I wish I could be there to comfort her.

Margaret: Margaret married my second brother before I was born. (My two older brothers were 23 and 21 when I came along.) My mother was not in good health when I was growing up, and Margaret was like a second mother to me. She did those things for my youngest brother and me that Mama couldn't do: She made Christmas and Easter special every year, and I grew up playing with my nephew Keith at her house, going to the river with her every summer and swimming, cooking out and fishing. She taught me how to grow a garden, and provided many fresh vegetables for our family through the years.  Margaret and I also share something: she lost her only son (my nephew Keith) in an accident. Margaret passed away before  Lauren died, and I am thankful that she did not have to suffer through my loss with me. I just wish I could have comforted her more, but I did know understand her journey then. She was more than a "sister" to me. I loved her with all my heart, and I miss her still. She loved to laugh and loved her family more than anything else.

I am so thankful for the women God put in my life through my family. I could write a book about them. I haven't even gotten to my nieces yet!

With my sister-in-law, Yoli.

RT and I with Liz and her husband Robert in Las Vegas

With Susan and Deborah

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A perfect gift

Another football season has come and gone, we've gone through Advent and now Christmas and a New Year is upon us again. We are back at work and starting a new semester.  

A lot has happened since I last posted about the birth of our first grandchild, Rosemary. I had the opportunity to keep her for three days in November, and to spend a lot of time with her over the holidays. Christmas was so much fun! Her parents gave us a handmade gift of her footprint. It was the best gift we got! 

The joy she brings to us is indescribable. 

It is so interesting to me to see my child with his child. I have always known that Aaron was good with kids. He's always been like the Pied Piper when it comes to little kids. They love him, naturally. You can see how much Rosie loves him, even at her tender age of four months. She lights up with Daddy, and he can make her giggle. 

She looks up at her mom and dad with such wonder. My husband remarked that Rosie looks up at her mother the way her Daddy used to look up at me. I was really surprised that he said that. I think we take things like that for granted and don't really appreciate them until they are gone. Today, we are so fortunate to have digital cameras and camera phones that can record much more than in the days when I was a young mother.  

My son and his wife are learning and growing with their daughter every day. They have both "stepped up to the plate" and take really good care of her. We are so thankful that they are such good parents to our granddaughter. 

I saw a little poem that I think sums up my feelings for Rosemary: 

"A gift you are from heaven above, a perfect example of God's precious love."

(Thinking back, it sums up how I felt about my own children, too. I hope I appreciated it then, as much as I do now.) 

My favorite (so far) picture of Rosie and me.