During the past month and a half, through the difficult period of my sister-in-law passing away on Guam and mom’s surgery in Hawaii, there has been actually some remarkable things that have happened. One of them has been that I have rediscovered my sister, Michele.
There are four boys and one girl in our family. Michele has had to deal with four rambunctious brothers, three older than her and one younger. To my mother’s chagrin, my sister was toughened by that experience and is by no means a “girly girl.”
In fact, there are in many ways sharp contrasts between my mom and sister. Mother lives a professional, sophisticated life and is involved in many community and in Catholic church organizations. She has a certain finesse and is well spoken and read.
My sister is more down to earth and simple. She stays at home and is involved in a more christian style religious faith. She is blunt and direct. She smokes and loves to talk. She has a loud laugh that she lets out that fills the room. She is the center of family gatherings, as she is the one that usually directs the management of the meals and food. She is a master at that and sometimes a real task master.
Sis was only 18 when Dad passed away. She was terrifically spoiled by him. She was his only daughter. We boys often would be in real hot water with our dad if we did something to hurt our sister like brothers did sometimes when they were younger. She sometimes manipulated the situation just to get us in trouble. I think she did it to survive and also to let is be known that she was going to be a match for four brothers and not a footstool. Let me tell you she has proven that point several times over her life.
Until this month, I had not seen my sister for many years. Our contact has mainly been through the telephone. Especially in Hawaii, my respect and love for Michele grew. I really got to know my sister as she is now.
My sister is a caring woman. As strong as she is, her heart is wide and giving. She was one of the primary caregivers for each of my grandmothers before they passed away. She was especially close to them. She has personal stories of each of them through their waning years of of their lives that come only from someone who has the intimate knowledge of spending time with them day in and day out. No wonder they loved her.
She may be rough around the edges sometimes, but my sister cares deeply about the people she loves. She and her husband took care of me while I was in Hawaii. She were so nurturing to me, that it really humbled me, and made me realize that my sister was teaching me lessons in compassion and service that I wish I could emulate.
She and mom have their personality clashes, but they love each other. Michele doted on mom like a mother hen during the whole surgery period. It drove mom crazy sometimes, because when you put two strong willed women together – well, sparks fly. However, the love was strong. When it really counted, mom wanted Michelle there.
Michele has been there to take care of my brother Tim’s children when they he was having marital difficulties. She is a firm and loving aunt. Her nieces and nephews know their auntie loves them. She has helped with so many of them. Having no children of her own, she has acted like mother to many young kids.
She has gained in maturity and stature, and is so far away from that little spoiled girl of many years ago. She has weathered many trials of life and has emerged as her own person.
I respect my sister. I am proud of her.
This month her husband will be undergoing open heart surgery. She is as stoic as ever but she continues to rely on her faith and the resilience that has carried her through life.
This clip is with Michele, her husband Angelo and his mom.