Today is my younger sister’s birthday, and these flowers are for her.
I was the older sister, and for most of our lives, the more accomplished. She looked up to me, as I looked up to our older sisters.
But for some time now, I’ve been the one who’s looked up to her.
My little sister has quietly become one of my heroes.
She’s overcome many painful challenges.
Her marriage dissolved.
She went back to school while the children were still young. Went back to earn new qualifications that would pay the bills.
She raised her three sons, mostly on her own. Three beautiful young men.
Today she’s also a loving grandmother of two.
My sister’s faith and optimism are a joy to behold.
I’ve leaned on that strong faith in recent years. Hers and my other siblings’.
Through frequent phone calls from the U. S., where she lives, my younger sister has helped keep me afloat during tough times.
She talked to me at times when I couldn’t even hold a conversation.
Over and over, she called. Encouraging. Assuring me that there would be brighter tomorrows.
But it’s what she’s done for others that’s moved me most profoundly over these several years.
She established scholarships — in our parents’ names — for children from poor families in the Jamaican countryside where we once lived. She started with two – twin girls – providing money for their high school fees and other expenses.
Then she asked the rest of us to contribute if and when we could.
Today, those scholarships have helped 8 young people. All of them are bright children from poor families – much poorer than we were.
My sister delights in their progress.
And she never lets the rest of us forget that through these scholarships, we are changing lives.
Helping others to get an opportunity that changed our own lives.
Happy birthday, Jackie.
And thank you.