Nanette loving up Kai!
I always say Nanette came out of my mothers womb at 5'9" as a nurturing, mothering, generous adult. She has an incredible work ethic and is super kind and loving. My relationship with Nanette was an unusual one, she is only 3 years older than me but she was like a mother to me during my childhood. She not only made me feel loved, but secure and safe when I was with her. I always knew she would never let anything bad happen to me. During swimming lessons when we had to jump off of the diving board, the only way I would do it was if they would go get my sister, Nanette, because I knew she would jump in those waters and save me. My trust level was not high with other people, but Nanette I trusted to the core. She loved me unconditional and I knew it even as a child. She packed my lunches and always made sure I had my gym clothes in my duffle bag for school. When I would receive deficiency slips from school, she would go through my text books and create study cards and force me to study. Failing was never an option for her and she wanted to make sure that I never failed either. We would show animals at the County fair which she fed, cleaned and took care of but when the Fair came around she would let me have first pick at which animal I wanted to show. One year, to her dismay, I won Grand Champion Pig Carcass Show...yes I did!!! I bet you all didn't even know there was such a thing! She did all the work but let me take the glory but more importantly she always allowed me to keep the money from selling the animals. The year that she left for college was also the year that my parents divorced. I sobbed when she left for college but never shed a tear over my parents separation. The biggest loss of my life at that point was losing my sister who was my sense of security. One of the most important things that Nanette did for me was the summer after I graduated from high school, she stopped by my apartment mid August and asked me "so did you sign up for college?" When I told her no, she asked what I was planning to do with my life. I told her my plans to keep working two jobs and I would figure it out from there. She quietly listened and then turned to me and said "I knew you wouldn't do it, so I signed you up and I will pick you up in 3 weeks and drop you off on your first day." Wait!!! Who is going to pay for College???? She told me where I could pick up my financial aid at the University along with a loan. For 5 college years, I never once saw a financial aid form or a loan application, she always did it for me. That one loving act of hers changed my life forever and I am forever grateful. The great thing about Nanette is that she did all these wonderful loving motherly acts, yet I never felt "mothered" by her. I always felt like she was/is my friend. She is a ray of sunshine, who has a smile on her face most days and really feels good about doing nice things for the people that she loves. Our relationship has changed over the years, after she had 3 babies in 4 years, she was a little busy to wait on me hand and foot. Once I adopted, Nanette was also the one that had the courage to address the fact that Kai was having seizures and something wasn't right with him. Nobody had mentioned that they thought anything was off with Kai, until Nanette had the courage to do it. She also gave me "the talk" that a mother would telling me to get the help and therapy that Kai needed immediately. When I was having problems with Kai's neurologist, Nanette volunteered to come up to the cities and "talk with him". I am sure she would have done it, but I handled it. She is very attuned about where my kids are emotionally and has shared things that I didn't recognize until she pointed them out. For example, she immediately knew that good-byes were hard for Bei and told me not to push him to give hugs and not to make it a big deal. After 5 years he articulated to me that "good-byes are hard for me". Nanette comes up to the Cities and loves on my children unconditionally. She gushes and goo's all over them, takes Bei on an adventure every time she is here and plays endlessly outside with the kids. I am so fortunate to have her in my life. She has taught me the definition of unconditional love and how to serve others with a smile on your face. I love her unconditionally too!
Jeannine with her son Ben
My sister Jeannine on the other hand was only one year older than me, she was my playmate. I have such fond memories of playing together; we played tons of barbies, school, dress up and had alot of fun together. I always considered her my friend and felt like she would do anything to protect me. I realize we were very opposite from one another, which is probably why we got along so well. Jeannine was more of a perfectionist and an introvert, she was the Felix Unger and I was the Oscar Madison of the odd couple. I am more of carefree and social person and Jeannine is more introverted and choosy about her friendships. Here is an example of a typical play time with me and Jeannine. The only way that she would play Barbies is if I agreed for her to have the best Barbie, which was Sweet Sixteen and was officially mine. I always agreed because I wanted to play and Jeannine was the type that if she didn't get her way, she stuck to her guns and she really wouldn't play. When we played water fights, she got the hose...I got a bucket of water that lasted the entire 3 seconds until I threw it her way and usually missed. When it was my turn to wield the hose, she would quit and go into the house. Like a dummy I would agree to the same scenario the next day and the same thing would happen. Sounds like a meanie doesn't she? So who did this quiet bully become as an adult???? Nothing like you would imagine. Jeannine is one of those rare finds in life, who lives her life by the word of Christ and is so quiet and so under-stated about it. She is one of the most humble people that I have ever met. She would never brag about her self or her children's accomplishments. For years she took care of a 90+ year old woman from her church. When I asked her what do you do for her? She told me that along with doing her weekly grocery shopping she would wash the woman's feet and clip her toenails!!! WHAT?!?!?!?!? Dear God, please tell me that I don't have to clip old peoples toenails to get into heaven!!!!!!! I'm sorry I digressed, but I can't stand looking at my own toes, I can't imagine what a 90 year old person's toes look like. Anyway, she has done a ton of good works in her church and community. She took in a family member for several years when they had no where else to go and did it happily. She is the first person our family goes to in a family crisis, she is our rock. She is level headed, reasonable and has a soft way about delivering powerful messages. When my mom discovered in 2001 that she had breast cancer, my sister Jeannine was there every step of the way, holding and guiding her. She did it again in 2008 when my mom had that mysterious infection that almost killed her called Super calfragilious expeolidosis. To be honest, I still don't know what my mom had, but I bet Jeannine does and could tell you all about it. Jeannine physically took care of my mom when my mom couldn't do it for herself. She took care of my grandfather when he was dying and was a stalwart for our family. Most recently when my father was in the end stages of COPD in 2010, Jeannine spent every weekend driving 10 hours to take care of him. At night he would have anxiety because he couldn't breathe and there were many times that he called Jeannine by phone in the middle of the night to help calm his nerves. He told me that "Jeannine has the perfect way of telling you what you need to hear and that he never met anybody else with her ability". Career wise Jeannine has just soared, she worked in corporate America for many years in the I.T. industry. She is a perfectionist, detailed oriented, extremely hard work ethic and has a great ability to communicate and connect with others. I imagine that she is a dream employee. After my mom's breast cancer, Jeannine decided to go back to school and try a different path, Nursing. I have so much respect and admiration for how Jeannine has lived her life, her values, virtue and faith. She is one of my biggest cheerleaders and support team today. She has taught me the meaning of unconditional love.
Even though I have a different relationship with each sister because they are different people and had different roles in my life. Through my relationships with them, I have learned that love is not about perfect people, making perfect decisions. Sometimes it is about loving through the hurt and the pain but always knowing that there is the safety net of sisterly love. I can fail and fall down in life but I know that my two sisters will pick me up, expect me to do better but in the end they will love me.