“A sister is a gift to the heart, a friend to the spirit, a golden thread to the meaning of life.” ~Isadora James
This afternoon, as I pondered what to write about, my sister popped up out of FaceBook cyberspace and said I should write about what a great realtor she is. I sent her back a “hardy har har”. Quite frankly, I have no idea what kind of realtor she is – she just started this new career. However, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that she will be a member of the million dollar club before too long, as she succeeds at pretty much everything she puts her mind to. That determination, combined with her humor and compassion, makes her one of my favorite people in the whole world.
Meet my sister Kathleen. She is gorgeous, as you can see. What you can’t see is that she is one of the strongest women I have ever met. I don’t think it has ever crossed her mind to be weak or wimpy. When we were young, we were camping on Cape Hatteras, NC. At least that’s where I think it was. Kathleen and our middle sister Maureen went to collect water. They met a bully from another campsite at the water pump, and he started to pick on Maureen. Kathleen got so incensed at this pompous windbag that she dumped a whole bucket of water over his head! She was no shrinking violet, even at that age.
When Maureen died in 1975, my sister, whose bedroom was right next to mine, would come and sit with me while I cried. I’m sure she cried too, but I just remember her being there, sitting and listening and letting me work through my sadness. I will always be grateful for that, because the compassion she showed me despite our bitterest childhood fights is a gift I will never be able to repay.
Kathleen has not always taken the easy road and has never had the easy life handed to her. She has worked her butt off for everything she has. When she graduated from high school, she moved to Staten Island. I vaguely remember that she moved there with a friend who turned out not to be a friend after all. On her own at age 18, she got a job and managed to have some fun while working at a job she wasn’t crazy about. Shortly after, she got a job at AT&T and began her long career in the telecommunications industry. In that job, she hung on through the company’s many incarnations. She was promoted, demoted, got great pay increases and lousy pay cuts. She was thrown around on the vagaries of Ma Bell, eventually deciding last year that enough was enough. Goodbye, Verizon, hello Real Estate. During her career at AT&T/Bell Atlantic/Verizon, she got married, had two boys, got a divorce, dated, fell in love, and is now engaged.
While her career was soaring, her personal life was not always easy. The man she married and had two children with turned out to be a low-life, scum-sucking ratbag (I mean, really, what sort of loser throws a car seat at a woman holding a baby?? What a schmuck!). He continues to this day to be an absent, irresponsible, mean, foul-mouthed thorn in her side who can’t step up and do anything remotely resembling parenting. I am SO glad that she got away from the loser. (Now I know, I’m supposed to have love in my heart for all people and show compassion toward even the mightiest bastard, but I swear on all that is holy, Jesus himself would trip this guy!)
Her sons were the light of her life. She was fiercely protective of them, and tried to give them every opportunity to succeed despite their absent father. She was the one who taught them about their bodies, how to shave, what it meant to be a man and how to treat women. She fought with the school to get them extra help when they struggled (and continue to struggle). She was (and is) their strongest advocate in every way. She never spoke ill of her ex in front of them, giving them every chance to love their father. She could have said mean things about him, turned them against him. It would have been only too easy to do that. However, Kathleen took the high road, encouraging them to maintain a relationship with him. Everyone in the family hoped he would one day step up to the plate and be a father figure to the boys, but he never did. Still she stayed strong, showing them the difference between what was right and wrong. She has been their only emotional and financial support since they were babies. She is a warrior for them. Through all her difficulty, we would talk about what was going on. When she lived closer I would go pick up the boys at day care if she had to work late or just couldn’t get there in time. I would try to offer suggestions or just support her when she needed to vent or make a decision. I hated feeling so impotent, but knew that she would find the solutions to her problems, and she always did
Her boys are nearly grown now. They are almost out on their own. One is working to get his license so he can work on a tugboat, and the other has not yet graduated from high school. They are full of potential and promise and I look forward to the day when they are independent and successful, which they will both be.
Last year, Kathleen’s life took a HUGE step forward. She met the love of her life, Anthony. They dated, fell in love, got engaged, and are to be married this July.
He’s an outstanding man. Not only is he funny, but he’s smart and interesting and levelheaded. He loves to travel, as does she. He’s got two grown sons who are ridiculously funny and accomplished (one teaches Navigation at SUNY Maritime and is a novelist, the other is in the Navy – sorry – I mean the Army). I could not be happier that their paths crossed, because my sister deserved every happiness.
I love my sister. She is one of the few women in this world that I look up to. Her strength, determination, and passion are the things I reflect on when I am having a tough time. She doesn’t know it, but she inspires me to be my very best self. Even though our lives are vastly different, I feel a connection to Kathleen that I feel with nobody else. She is my sister, my mirror. She shows me who I am and who I can hope to be. She has taught me to never give up, be proud of who I am, and never feel sorry for myself.
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