This is my big sister. Who also happens to be my Big Sister. Only now, after delivering baby #3 into the family just last week, she is much, much smaller. ;o)
Growing up, no sisters were more different than the two of us. Nor were any sisters closer than we. Our differences, rather than separating us, were the cementing bond that caused us to love each other, rely on each other, and to appreciate the strengths of the other.
She was the talker, me the listener. She was confident and outgoing. Me, shy and reserved. She - the life of the party. Me - the one who proudly looked on and thought, "That's my sister!"
In high school she led the way in starting a new, and what would become one of the largest, clubs on campus. I inherited the role of president only after she graduated and did so with much trepidation. While watching her countless matches on the varsity volleyball team, the passion to play myself began to grow within. She was the high school newspaper's front page news editor so without thinking of any other options, guess who followed in her steps?! Whatever she did, I did. She was the trailblazer, me the awed spectator and follower.
Even today, though we've each blossomed and metamorphized into women, wives, and mothers, we remain very different. She looks/looked absolutely adorable pregnant, with a perfectly round belly and no weight gain anywhere else. I just looked lumpy all over. While my ideal birthday party surprise would be a visit from NBA star Chris Paul (at my husband's offer), hers perhaps would be a visit from her ideal presidential candidate Ron Paul. :o)
But it is her passion for politics, health, and family that continues to conjure up those old feelings of my pre-teen self, "That's my sister!" Her unwavering commitment to what she believes in continues to challenge me in my life.
For the last 2.5 years she has served as the Health Commissioner for her city, fighting for smoke free policies in public places and better health education within the schools. Vowing to create a better future for her children, she has committed herself to researching and adopting better eating habits, educating herself and others on more natural pregnancies and deliveries, and being an informed citizen of the United States so her vote will matter in every election. She dreams big, and while she admits some of them are perhaps lofty, there are certain ones that she would love to see come to fruition within the next few years. Sensing within herself a soft heart towards orphans from a young age, she would love to have a solidified direction in regards to adoption. She doesn't know if this means personally adopting, financially enabling someone else to adopt, or simply involving herself and family in outreach to orphans, but she is determined to reach out to children who are without the love of parents.
Most importantly she devotes each of her days to her children, Anna Grace, Cate, and Noah, providing a real life role model that they can now and forever look up to as a pillar of love and protection. But to her, the role she values most is being the best friend of her husband of five years, Michael. When she speaks of being a help meet and the one whose contribution enables her husband to be a better man, the best he can be, you can hear in her voice that she cannot imagine a better suited job description than that.
Thank you, Daniele, for being an example and friend to me all these years. Though we don't always see eye to eye, I have you to thank for opening my eyes to some very important issues for myself and my family. Your courage and passion for standing up for what you believe is unprecedented among all those I look up to. Thank you for teaching me that you can be bold and gentle, passionate and yet non-judgmental, convinced but always learning.
Congratulations on the birth of Noah Michael! I can't wait to meet him!!
(picture of Noah Michael to follow!)