The other day was my sister’s birthday. As difficult as it is for me except, my kid sister turned 50; the big Five-O! I don’t even want to talk about where that places me in the grand calendar of life; let’s just say that I am older and leave it at that.
If anyone in the world deserves to be celebrated, it’s Theresa. She is the most giving, kind, and sacrificing person you could ever hope to meet. Theresa even chose a job where she could nurture and care for children with special needs. The students adore her and if you know Tee, you most likely do too.
So in honor of her grand milestone birthday, my other (but equally wonderful) sisters planned a special surprise celebration in her honor. Unfortunately for me, I would have to be away on business and was unable to attend. That said, I had to do something to make my presence felt by Theresa. If there is one major trait that Tee and I share, it is that we are both extremely sentimental. So I sat down and penned a letter to my dear sister that I hoped would convey what is in my heart and let her know how grateful that I am to God for giving me the privilege of sharing life’s journey with her.
Once the letter was completed, I went through all the family photos covering the past fifty years. Thanks to my sisters, my niece Taylor, and Theresa’s sisters-in-law, Jean and Virginia, I was able to put together a video-slide presentation celebrating Theresa. Our brother-in-law, Joe, who is married to our baby sister, Sharon and is a wiz with technology, arranged to have a screen at the party, which would allow everyone to share the past fifty years of the guest-of-honor’s life! Not only that, my sister Janice agreed to read my letter aloud to Theresa and I understand that Janice did a stellar job! Thankfully, I was blessed to have the ability to reach out across the miles and touch my sister’s heart. In our own special way; we did get to spend a bit of her birthday together in spirit.
I could not post this blog on her birthday, as it would have given the surprise away but now that the party is forever etched into her heart and mind, I would like to share with all of you, the special woman that is my sister, Theresa Ann and what makes our bond so unique…
How I wish I could be there with you to help celebrate this milestone birthday. I hope you know that I am with you in spirit.
It’s almost unfathomable to think that it was fifty years ago when mommy and daddy came walking through the door of our little apartment at 107 Engert Avenue, in Brooklyn, with my new baby sister.
Only a child myself, I had been secretly wishing for a baby brother, after all, the scale was already unbalanced; two girls to one boy. When news broke that mommy had the baby and that it was another girl, I was beside myself. I was quite sure that I was going to be very indifferent to your arrival but when mommy sat me down on the sofa and placed you onto my lap; my heart melted. I couldn’t believe that I was able to love you so much. As your tiny fist held tightly to my pinky finger, I remember thinking, “this is my new sister and it’s gonna be my job to take care of her and protect her, all my life.”
Not that you’d need it, you were a fighter from the get-go. Born blue, you beat the odds and drew that precious first breath of life into your lungs to let out the cry of your arrival. Clearly God had a plan for you and I was lucky to be a part of that plan.
As a man who was never blessed with any children of his own, I had the honor of helping our parents care for you, Janice, and Sharon. The happiness that those years have given me fills a place in my heart that would otherwise be hollow.
I remember back in Bayside, spending days and days holding your hand, teaching you to walk. I can still remember the evening I gently slid my finger out or you grip and watched you take those first steps on your own. Mommy and daddy were sitting on the front porch, chatting with neighbors as I excitedly gave them the news. Everyone, including the neighbors, came inside to witness you do it again – and you didn’t disappoint; you teetered across the floor with a knowing grin on your face that made it quite clear to all, there’d be no stopping you now!
Not only did I get to teach you to walk but I was also there to teach you how to ride a bike, jump rope, roller skate, and swim across our little pool.
I remember the hours spent on chilly winter afternoons, riding you on my bicycle. Around and around the court we’d circle until the “Chow-Chow Cup” truck would finally arrive and we would share a cone shaped paper cup full of greasy (but hot) fries, which we thought was the bomb back then!
As silly as it was, it made us both feel special to have this secret moment just between the two of us.
And of course there were the trips to the florist to see Santa Claus and his workshop; hikes through Ally Pond Park, and picnics at Oakland Lake; such happy memories.
I fondly remember the days spent dressing you up and fixing your hair for school. I even made your Halloween costumes. I helped you with your homework and played your favorite songs on my stereo; always loving how much it would make you smile – or better yet, dance!
I gave you piggy-back-rides, pushed you on swings, and in Vermont when daddy took you fishing on the little row boat, it was I in the water beneath, who would slip a fish onto your line and give it a tug. I picked you up from religion class and even dressed you for your First Holy Communion. How beautiful you looked that day. You knew it too; you couldn’t wait for Sister Agnes to see you!
As you grew, I’d take you to work with dad and me and you would help us to fill displays and price bottles. When the work was done, we would all go to Junior’s for a hearty lunch. As I remember, there was usually a little bit of downtown shopping involved too!
I made the flowers for your wedding, and James and I did your hair and make-up. As you came gliding down the aisle on daddy’s arm, you looked like Heaven’s most glamorous angel.
I could go on and on about the times we’ve shared but the important thing is; they were many – and they were happy.
Our family has spent a lifetime being there for one another, supporting each other and loving as only mommy could teach us. Because we have each other; our good times are better and the bad times more tolerable.
I am so proud of the woman you’ve become and the amazing mother that you are. You have a reputation for being a person who cares deeply and is always willing to help others. Your special brand of kindness breaks through the barriers of the troubled students you help, bringing them joy and comfort in knowing that you are there for them.
You’re a true and loyal friend and about the best sister a guy could ever wish for.
So here’s to you and your first fifty years. May those beautiful memories be your guide and your comfort as you set forth on the next chapters of your life. My birthday wish for you is that you may realize how much you are treasured and loved, and that you always know that your brother is here for you.
I love you Tee, more than these simple words can express and I know that mommy is looking down on you with pride and great joy for all that you do and all that you are… The one… The only… Theresa!
Happy, happy birthday little sister.
With love from your brother,
PS, I hope you enjoy the little slide presentation I’ve assembled, chronicling and celebrating, the past fifty years of “you.”