I’m not particularly proud of this, but one of the reasons I gained such a deep respect for women might just be because of this odd dynamic with my older sister when we were younger.
My older sister, Manon, is two years older than I am. For all sorts of typical sibling rivalry reasons there were moments in our late puberty and early teen years when we didn’t really get along—and that’s putting it mildly. Sometimes it even turned to physical confrontation. I might have been eleven or twelve, maybe even thirteen. I don’t really remember. Perhaps I’m too ashamed to admit to myself that I might have even been fourteen when some of this was still going on.
We’d get into these odd wrestling matches. I don’t recall much of how we’d get there, but eventually we’d end up in a hair pulling standoff. In those years my hair was fairly long so she’d have as much hair to grab onto as I did with hers. We’d pull pretty hard. And keep pulling. Neither one of us was willing to give in to the other very often. My guess is that I was usually the one who’d give in, or we’d have to break it up when my parents would pull into the driveway coming back from work. I’m pretty sure my parents never found out about it. If they had—look out. We would have been in deep trouble.
I mention all this because in the midst of this odd behavior I gained a deep respect for my sister, perhaps because of the fortitude and strength for going toe-to-toe with me, perhaps because she never threatened to turn me in. Who knows why, but the respect was definitely firmly planted into my being. There was a true sense of equality that had set in.
Through most of elementary school, Manon was called names and put down by some of the children in her class. This was hurtful and made her feel unaccepted, creating a low self-esteem. She would often cry when she went to bed at night. Our mother would talk with her and encourage her.
With the help of books and courses Manon improved her self-esteem. She promised herself she would not treat people the way she had been treated in school.
Those who know Manon understand the depth of her empathy, her compassion, and her gentle soul. She’s a strong woman who would never intentionally hurt another. Her normal way of life is to lead with kindness. She’s loved and respected by all those who know her.
In her mid-teens Manon began a serious relationship with her future husband, and at about the same time our relationship began changing for the better. At eighteen she married her sweetheart. We grew closer over time and the conflicts were behind us. It’s not that we didn’t love each other when we were younger, we just had a strange way of showing it—or not showing it.
Over the years I watched my sister develop into an amazingly strong woman, a wise woman who I and my other two siblings can always count on for love and support. I saw her develop a strong faith which helped her during the challenging times of her life. Times like when her husband was ill and was inexplicably losing lots of weight. The doctors were having trouble diagnosing the problem. When he kept getting worse, she didn’t give up. She continued to support and encourage him, as they both desperately wanted answers. Eventually a diagnosis was made and recovery took place.
Then a decade or so later she saw her youngest teenage son go through a similar bout as he dealt with a severe case of Crohn’s Disease. Again, a challenging diagnosis, some painful surgeries, and a long road to recovery and good health, but through it all she remained an incredibly supportive and loving mother. She struggled with how much her son was suffering, yet her strength was a thing of pure beauty. We should all be so strong in such times.
Next month she’ll have been married for forty-three years. That in and of itself tells me a lot about her strength. You rarely end up with a happy long-term marriage without a deep understanding of what it means to be strong. That’s beautiful.
I could list example after example of life situations where she could have easily become overwhelmed by her circumstances, and maybe on the inside she felt that way, but on the outside, to her immediate family, to her siblings, we saw her strength. We saw her faith. She has been a good mother, a strong supportive wife, a great sister, a good daughter, and a strong beautiful woman.
When I chose to write this blog series I looked forward to writing about her. I’m proud to say she’s my sister.
I’m proud to hold her up as a strong beautiful woman.
If you haven’t already read the intro blog to the series to know why I’m writing this Strong Beautiful Women series you can do so by clicking here, or go here to read about other Strong Beautiful Women.