To My Sister on her Birthday

Today is a special day, but it doesn't get the ceremony it deserves. It is my sister, Donna's birthday  and that makes it special.  Big deal, you say, everyone has a birthday.  My sister, your sister, all God's children's sisters have birthdays.  That of course is true, but you see, Donna is the best person I know and there can only be one of them.  Countless people would have much dimmer lives if it weren't for my sister - and that is not an exaggeration.That is why today, HER day, is so special!

Donna is the kind of person that people take for granted.  She always comes through as if it were her job.  Donna doesn't care.  She just wants you, your neighbor and any complete stranger to be happy.  She will do all she can to make that happen.  I have been blessed to watch her work her magic - her special kindness - all my life.  She has simultaneously made me a better person and put me to shame all at the same time.  She doesn't do that on purpose, you see.  She is just being Donna and it is so plain to see that me just being Jeff is a far cry from her just being Donna.  Her magic is that instead of me being jealous or feeling less, she somehow lifts me up instead.  That is Donna and she's the best!

Ron and Donna
Every family needs someone to be the glue that holds it together.  Donna is that someone for us. She is the one that makes sure that Christmas comes together.  She makes sure that everyone has a multitude of packages to open, that there is food aplenty, and that the timing fits everyone.  Her presents are always thoughtful and unique. She gets them in interesting places; she even sometimes makes them.  The holiday always comes together with smiles and laughter.  When I was going through my divorce, my ex wife told me, "One of the things I will miss the most is the awesome Donna Christmases."

Speaking of my ex, when she first moved to town - before we were even dating, Donna surprised her with a clothes basket full of things that people need to keep house. Cleaning tools, detergent, spray bottles, gloves, it was all there.  Donna didn't even know her and never met her, but again, that is Donna.

My oldest sister, Cheryl, had a couple of strokes and is now being cared for in a nursing home.  She went in with the hopes that it would be temporary.  That was a few years ago.  Donna visits her most everyday.  She cares for her, makes her things, helps directly with her personal care, and puts up with a lot of grief from my sister for the trouble (a by-product of the strokes).  Many people would throw up their hands and say, "Forget it.  She has the care she needs, I will just be a periodic visitor."  That's not Donna.  Sometimes through tears she pushes through and loves my sister with her words and deeds.

Our baby sister, Jana, battled with Multiple Sclerosis.  We lost her two years ago as she ultimately gave way to the disease. Donna was so instrumental in my sister's life and welfare that you would think that she was on the payroll.  She took food and bottled water (Jana's drink of choice) to her regularly just to make sure she wasn't doing without.  She cleaned her place, moved her, took her to her appointments and family get togethers (until Jana simply couldn't get out anymore), and made sure that all of Jana's paperwork (insurance, help agencies, etc.) were up to date.  She did this despite Jana having a live-in boyfriend and caregiver there.  Donna even took care of HIS needs.  That was Donna.

Jana would apologize to her and confess guilt for being such a needy burden on her.  Donna's loving reply was, "Jana, you aren't a burden to me.  People like me need people like you as much as people like you need people like me."  Yes, that is Donna.

Donna has been there for me, too.  I try not to impose on her because I see what she does for others and do not want to take more away from her time and resources.  I want her to know that there is someone that is on her help side, not just her need side.  Yet, she always hems and repairs my clothes  and makes sure that I am not forgotten.  The highlight of my life, it seems, is when Donna and Ron (Donna's other half) invite me to lunch or dinner.  It always gives me a break from whatever I am wrestling with and ensures that I will have plenty of smiles and guffaws before I get back home.  I know that she will be there for me if ever I require any need.  I also know that it would make her happy to help because that is Donna.

So here is to Donna on her birthday!  She is the kindest, most generous, as close to a perfect loving person that can be found in a human being.  I know, because I am her brother.  That makes me one of the most blessed people on the planet.

I love you, Donna!  Please have the happiest of birthdays today and do me a favor:  For once, on this day, put yourself first!

From Left: Donna, Jana, Donna's daughter, Heather, Mom, Ron, and sister Cheryl