Happy birthday to my sister
Today is the birthday of my sister Renee - a survivor by every definition. This amazing woman has always been a positive influence in my life, particularly when our parents failed to provide for us as children. Renee raised me and our brother Kenny who passed a year ago January 7th. The three of us had very difficult childhoods with different fathers that weren't in our lives, and our mother struggled with depression that kept her from us. We only had each other and Renee assumed the role of our loving parent.
When Kenny and I were young, Renee often rescued us from our chaotic home and took us to her small apartment for a weekend of peace and joy. Her influence in our lives has always been of unconditional love, kindness and support.
It was Renee who stepped in and took me into her home after my father left when I was just 11 years old. She took me in again for my teenage years when my mother was unable to care for me. Renee is the one person who has always looked after me and I'm forever thankful for her generosity and love. I believe Renee saved my life and she taught me what it feels like to be loved.
When our brother struggled with addiction and spent time in prison for theft, Renee was there for him. She was also beside him when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor more than 16 years ago. Kenny required full time care after brain surgery and needed assistance until the day he died - Renee was there all the way. She never questioned taking responsibility for Kenny and she did whatever was needed to make his life comfortable. Kenny's life would have been unbearable if it weren't for our loving sister. She was his touchstone in life. He was blessed to receive her love and he recognized her angelic qualities. She taught me to give without condition.
When Renee's son married a young woman with a child from another father, Renee assumed responsibility for the boy as her own grandson, without question, and when her son and daughter-in-law could not take care of the child, Renee stepped in, took the boy in and she has raised him with tremendous love and boundaries. She taught me to help others in need.
5+ years ago Renee was diagnosed with cancer and never skipped a beat in her positive outlook. When she lost her hair from chemo and required a wig, Renee continued to bring light to her situation and find the humor in it. She taught me that joy can be found in any scenario, if we choose to find it. Renee is a model of "how we see the problem, is the problem".
Renee suffered many difficulties and abuse as a child, but it never made her bitter or angry. She chose to stay vulnerable, open and loving to all. Her love for people has been a huge influence on me and soo many others. There are too many stories to share here, but I can be witness to uncountable times when Renee has been a loving influence in the life of her family, friends and strangers.
Renee is a living saint, an unselfish human being, a natural care giver and a pure love machine. She deserves the best things in life and all of the love the world has to give back. Renee teaches us all by her example.
Happy birthday Renee! I hope this year is your best ever and you really feel the love. You are a blessing to everyone you come into contact with and we are celebrating you today!