Saturday, May 30, 2009

Sue's Sunday birthday blog... Happy Birthday! (No peeking until Sunday, Sue)

  Okay, it is a little daunting to write a birthday blog for my sister, the birthday blog queen of the internet, but Sunday is her birthday, and so I'd like to give her a bit of the gift that she is in my life. And she is a gift... one of my very best ones; my sister makes each day of my life better because she is a part of it.
  This was true even in my earliest memories. I remember that whenever Sue was around, the day was always more fun, often more crazy and zany, and full of much more laughter. I followed her around soaking up her good will, always feeling a part of the center of her life, even when she was a teenager. I never remember her doing or saying one mean thing to me ever, except perhaps when she had the audacity to leave and go off to college in a different state.
  Even then, she always wrote me letters and invited me to come visit her. When I did visit, she treated me like a friend and an equal, taking me to parties with her and introducing me to all her friends. I knew she liked me and was proud of me, and as a young teen, that helped me feel more confident about liking myself. After all, if such an obviously funny and interesting and cool person thought I was funny and interesting and cool, who was I to argue?
  I remember my sister always being generous with her love and with her talents. When I was growing up, our family didn't have a lot of extra money, and one summer Sue worked two jobs to make money for college. When she left that summer, she gave me a record player and left some of her Beatles records behind for me. She always has liked giving more than receiving.
  Later, after she got married and moved to Chicago, (okay, that was the second hard thing she did to me) she invited me to come visit her one summer and took me shopping and told me that she wanted to buy some new school clothes for me. I remember she sent me back to school that year in style. Sue loves to make other people happy and is the queen of gift giving.  This can be clearly evidenced by the presents under her tree each Christmas morning; still, the best gift she gives to all those she loves is the gift of herself.
  Some of my best memories of my sister are the years that we lived in the same area, only about five minutes away from each other. Our families spent every Sunday together, and I am always grateful for the ties that our children developed together as they grew up having a home away from home and a second mother at their beck and call. It was sad when the third, and last hard thing she did to me came along, and she moved up north several years ago. Luckily, we still do live in the same state.
  And we still spend a lot of time together... although mostly on the telephone.   In the words of James Taylor,  one of her favorite musical artists,  I can always call on my sister when I need a friend.  The lyric is familiar but true. In the last few years, my sister has dropped everything to come nurse me through difficult surgeries, not once but twice. She made me laugh even then, especially when she was trying to give me a dry hair shampoo.   
  In the hardest times in my life, she has always been a rock of support for me, emotionally and physically. Even when she is far away, our love connects us;  well, that and the telephone. I remember one particularly tough day in my life, she stayed on the phone with me nearly the whole day while I cried, and I thank her for that. She is a lifeline to all of those who are lucky enough to know her and to be her friend.
  My sister's love for me has always been unconditional; I can tell my sister anything and know that she will understand, and that is a wonderful gift. I can be my best and my worst self with her and know she will equally love whichever side shows up.
  My sister is a good secret keeper. I have told her many secrets over the years, and I thank her for her ability to hear them,  to keep them to herself, to give counsel when needed, and sometimes to hold counsel back, and to intuitively know when to do which thing.
  My sister is full of perceptive wisdom; she is a role model and an example. Because she is six years older than I am, she usually gets to navigate life's challenges before I do, and so when those challenges come my way, she is able to share what she has learned. And because she is such a good and smart learner, the lessons shared are valuable and real and beautiful.
  My sister is a wonderful wife and mother; I take credit for some of the mothering practices she developed early on in her life before her own children came her way (you're welcome Matt, Karin, Ryan and Todd. ) She helped mother me when I was young , and still does mother me from time to time, but mostly now we are just the best of friends, friends that can finish each other's sentences, that understand each other's challenges, that know each other's innermost selves, that can and do count on each other, that put each other first, and that know how important they are to each other- and how lucky they are to be in the world together.
  I could spend a lot of time outlining all of my sister's amazing talents; writer, poet, teacher, humorist, counselor, creator of happy spaces, ultimate grandmother, collector of many objects, housewife extraordinaire... okay, maybe that last one is a stretch. (hee hee) Those of you who read her blog are already familiar with many of these gifts. I'll just say that my sister is an outstanding writer and thinker, is smart as a whip, (trite but true, and works well alliteratively  with what comes next) is wonderfully wise, and is always fun to be around.
  My sister chooses to be hopeful and optimistic, even in the toughest times, and one of her best talents that the rest of us enjoy, is that she spreads that hope to others. My own children have been known to call her Mrs. Santa Clause. There is definitely something magical about being around her, ask her grandchildren. Mainly, the magic is that she has a deep spiritual faith that is centering for all those within her sphere of influence. And she loves us all, and chooses to see the best things in us, and to believe in the best possible outcomes for us, as you can easily see from her famous "birthday blogs."
  My sister is a voice that uplifts all those within her sphere of influence. Simply put, she makes our lives better.  She could do this just by being herself; her personality is that good, but her influence is even more powerful because she takes the time and the effort to work at it. We thank her for all the circletimes, the family vacations, the holidays spent at her house, the interest she takes in all of our lives, the support she gives to each of us, for Dave, Matt, Heather, Jeremiah, Carli, Bryce, Karin, Bobby, Ryan and Todd, and, oh yes, for the previously mentioned birthday blogs.
   I am proud that she is extending that influence to many others with her poetry and blog sites.  I know that others feel the hope, the humor, the wisdom, the poetry,  and the downright resiliency that is her gift to all of us.
  Speaking individually, my sister makes my life better, and whenever I feel any misgivings about my DNA and genetic inheritance, which mainly comes each time I begin a diet,  (oh dear) I remember that these same genes have brought me a cherished and eternal connection with one of the best people in the world, my sister, and suddenly, that helps put everything in perspective.
  I love you, Sue, with all of my heart and wish you the best Sunday birthday ever.


jen said...

That was beautiful. How wonderful to hear all of Sue's qualities voiced by one who knows her best. And thanks for the tip about her bday!

Sue said...

THANKS, Nik. That was a pretty amazing gift! It always feels good to be loved by you, especially on a Sunday birthday, and reading your words has definitely filled my cup. (Even my swimming pool is spilling over.)

I do have just one question. Will we be meeting at the cemetery directly following the service?

Seriously, this one really IS beautiful enough to be a eulogy. In fact, since I intend to go first, maybe you could read it when that (hopefully distant) day arrives...just before you sing your alto solo of "More Holiness Give Me." (The "more freedom from earth stains" phrase would have even more layers of meaning than that time we sang it in sacrament meeting!) heehee

I love you...and I love that picture of us, too.


PS. Okay. I admit it. You made me cry.

Heather Anderson said...

It took you FOREVER to write another post but it was worth the wait. That was fun to read and very touching. I am sure you made her Bday extra special, thanks!

Kristin said...

I loved that post and everything was so true. Sue is the best! And you need to write more blogs! I love reading them.

jhofhine said...

Wow Nik! The bdayblog for Sue was AWESOME! This is actually my very first time on this site. You are a very gifted writer yourself! (if you don't believe me, you can ask my English teacher in High School!!! :-) I must agree with all the qualities and gifts you mentioned! I will have to let Sue know that I am offended that she wants you to sing about "earth stains" at her service without me! :-) Perhaps we could get her to pre-record herself singing, so our trio "legend" will remain in tact... I laughed outloud reading her comments...sitting here downstairs, alone in my office.. Larry probably thinks I'm crazy! Anyway dear sister you are pretty amazing yourself.
Love you TONS!

Sue said...

You're right, Jayne. You will absolutely need to be singing too, so that when Nikki forgets her part and stops singing entirely (like she did last time), there will still be someone there to carry the day.

And celebrate the earth stains. Or rather, the freedom from them...