In honor of my Dad’s birthday today, I’m choosing to write about someone who was extremely close to my dad and who has had a monumental impact on my life. I could do this on her birthday but if you knew how close this woman was to my dad, you would understand. She is, by far, one of the strongest women I have ever known.
She is my oldest sister, JoAnne. There are six kids in our family and I’m the youngest and JoAnne is the oldest with only 7 1/2 years (no twins) separating us (you can start if you wish, but over the years we have all heard every joke there is about this ).
Years ago JoAnne was stricken with MS. At the end of it all, she has been left unable to really move very much from her neck down. I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this because she would not be happy with me and being the older sister, I really do not want the phone call chastising me. And it is THAT spirit that has been such an inspiring factor in my life.
JoAnne is a lot like my dad. To say she is strong-willed would be an understatement, and in all of the years she has been in this state, not once–never–ever, have I heard her complain about the position she is in. She has a fabulous sense of humor and an incredible ear to listen and she is the mother of six children, eleven grandchildren, and one cat (who jumps up on her shoulder EVERY morning to say hello to her and ‘nuzzle’ her face).
She has the people who care for her and people are always coming and going in her apartment. Yes, she lives in an apartment because THAT is how she wants it. There has been a ton of hardship in her life and as a single mom, she certainly has had her share of ‘life’ to deal with, certainly more than most. And she has not complained about THAT either.
She has an uncanny memory for movies, movie roles, and movie lines (our favorite is Alastair Sim in a Christmas Carol—to us, it’s the only version worth watching). She LOVES baseball and in particular, CC Sabathia of the NY Yankees. She has an incredible faith and she has a wonderful laugh. Her mind has not diminished one iota and one would be foolish to think you would ever get the upper hand in any discussion unless you knew all of the facts, because she will nail you on it every time.
If something happens in our lives, and we feel she has enough on her plate and she should not be bothered, the phone will undoubtedly ring asking, not only, what is going on; but why was she not called?
You see, to JoAnne (which she was named and spelled the way it is because my dad was Joe, and my mom was Anne) lives life about everyone else. She will send a note, make a call, and care about those around her always and in all ways before she will ever think of her own needs.
That is my sister. When we moved into our first house, TJ was just born and I was painting the entire inside of the house before we could move in, it was a huge undertaking to do by myself. I would have never finished on time if that doorbell did not ring and there she was in paint clothes ready to work. She stayed until we finished.
Her life was full of her kids and dance schools, baseball games, and parties at her house. Even now, we have our sibling Christmas party at her house each year, because she would not have it any other way.
So as we go through our lives, fretting over the things we fret over, when I think I have it tough I think of JoAnne. Do I think of all of the hardship she has? Not really, I think of the spirit she has, the determination she has, the drive she has, and the love she has to move forward every day and how she uses that to blind the world around her just how tough she has it. That is enough to humble one to their knees.
She is my dad’s legacy in so many ways………which today, on his birthday, is a great reminder for all of us. Happy Birthday Dad, and I love you SC (a nickname); dad would be beyond proud in the way your very life is such an example of the phrase:
‘Love One Another’.
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