I was born 43 years ago today. On that same day 43 years ago, my sister Kathy was celebrating her eighth birthday. It was not entirely an accident (my mother's labor was induced), but nevertheless in family lore I became Kathy's birthday present and her special little "buddy" (meaning she got stuck tending to me more than anyone else). I can't speak for Kathy, but from my end of things that "coincidence" has been a great blessing.
For those who might not know the details of my family background, here's the short version: my parents both had previous marriages. My father was a widower with four children; my mother was divorced with six. I was the one child they had together. Because my father was 15 years older than my mother, his children were also older, so there was never a time when all eleven children lived together. But our house still saw a lof of traffic during my younger years, so it was nice to know that I had a special "buddy" to whom I could turn (again, I can't speak for her!).
As we have gotten older and miles have separated us, Kathy and I don't see each other very often anymore. But that bond has always remained, and when July 23 rolls around each year I am again reminded of it. Over the years Kathy has been one of the most influential people in my life. One of the best words I can think of to describe her is indefatigable. For reasons that I won't get into too deeply, her childhood was not what it should have been. She had a father and then a stepfather (my dad) who in many ways failed her. She became a mother too young, and suddenly childhood was gone. Yet in the face of all of that I watched her do amazing things--things like building her own house and raising goats in the country, putting herself through school as a single mother and earning a college degree, and going through basic training and serving in the United States military. Kathy has always been one of those people who fills her life to the brim, never content to wait for things to come her way, but always seeking out what life has to offer. Her energy is boundless, her smile contagious, and her enthusiasm and sense of humor a true inspiration.
Here are a few of my memories of my sister that stand out in my mind:
1) Sitting with her at the dining room table making Christmas decorations (Kathy is a great artist--she always drew the best Santa Clauses).
2) The story she told me when I was 8 years old (and my belief in Santa Claus was faltering) about how she quit believing in Santa when she was 8 years old and as a result he didn't bring her an Easy Bake oven that year (hmmm, I wanted an Easy Bake oven when I was 8 years old, too--I kept on believing that year, and I got one!).
3) Watching Kathy as a young mother and learning from her how to take care of babies.
4) Her appreciation for Sonic limeades (an appreciation she shared with me and that I have ever since maintained).
5) Her faith--Kathy was one of the first people I remember who talked to me about Jesus.
Today Kathy's children are all grown and she is a grandma. She and her husband have their own cattle farm, and she also works as an elementary school teacher. Clearly my sister is showing no signs of slowing down. I may be eight years younger than her (sorry, sis--just had to get that in there), yet I wish I had her energy.
Happy birthday, Kathy--may our gracious Lord bless you with many more years of life, health, and happiness.