My sister, Sheila, missed – by one day – being born on February 29th, in the leap year of 1956. She missed – by one – being the middle child in our large family. “Just slightly off-center,” was how she once described her position in the family. That could also describe Sheila’s position in life.
Sheila lived her life in a way that was often filled with uncertainty, challenge, adventure…even danger. She was the champion of the underdog, the greatest supporter of those with the biggest disadvantages. She was a fiercely loyal friend. She fell in love easily, and she always fell hard. I often worried that Sheila set herself up for a fall; certainly, she experienced more than her share of failures. I’d cringe at her struggles, and wish that she’d set herself on and easier course.
Sheila’s one true north was her love and loyalty to family and friends. Each of her brothers and sisters enjoyed a unique relationship with her, but it was with our children that Sheila truly shined. The favorite aunt to many nieces and nephews, to them she was friend, confidante and constant supporter.
My own relationship with my sister Sheila was a mixed bag. I loved her always, and worried about her often. Even as adults, though, she could hurt my feelings, and make me just as angry as when we were both children. In the last months of her life, things were good between us. We enjoyed heartfelt conversations and shared good memories. I’m very thankful for that.
Today is my sister, Sheila’s birthday. Though she’s been gone now for over seven years, she always has a special place in my heart…especially on her birthday.