This past Tuesday, to my chagrin, was “National Beer Day,” a day I didn’t know existed and subsequently failed to celebrate accordingly. I am sure you can imagine my disappointment as a free-thinking – and usually – free-drinking, adult.
The point of this post is to take a moment to ensure that I don’t let today’s “National Day of Something or Other” pass me by in a similarly embarrassing fashion. As an avid social media peruser and user, I was told by the collective that today is, in fact, “National Sibling Day,” a day where people pretend to give a crap about their family just a bit more than they usually do. In some cases that means an embarrassing photo from your childhood, in others it means a text message to say “You’re not the giant loser I think you are the other 364 days (365 in a leap year!) of the year, in fact, today you’re A-Ok in my eyes.”
Siblings are often as overlooked as a breath of air. For most of us, they’ve just kind of been there. They’re not often appreciated, and in some cases we don’t really think about them until they’re suddenly taken from us.
I know that I personally don’t always take the time to appreciate each breath I’ve been given, and I certainly don’t take the time to appreciate my abnormally large group of abnormal siblings. I hope that this, in some way, will shed some light on how I feel about you all.
I believe that you are one of the single most intelligent people I’ve ever met. You’ve got more insight and knowledge into more topics than even the most diligent and hardcore academics. Your commitment to being an active and involved father, despite the heavy toll that it takes on your personal life and – I’m assuming – your self-esteem from time-to-time. You have always been a supportive and understanding big brother who has often times put the needs of the family and the responsibility that comes with the family name ahead your best interest.
Don’t sell yourself short, find your happiness and live your life.
In a family like ours, there’s bound to be a “black sheep” and it’s a badge you’ve always worn with pride, and rightfully so. Sure, there’s differences like your insistence of rooting for Notre Dame just to be different from the rest of us, but that’s hardly where the things that make you unique start, or finish. You’ve worked tirelessly over the last 20-plus years to become your own man, to do the things that you want to do and to never owe an apology to anyone for it. You’re dedicated to your future, your business and your daughter’s well-being and have a focus and follow-through that is rare in our society and rarer still in our family.
Don’t forget to stop and smell the roses and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
In the last few years, you and I have gotten much closer and have allowed the difficulties that we’ve faced to, in some ways, strengthen our bond as brothers. That is not taken for granted. I know that life is as often frustrating for you as it is rewarding, but I’m proud of the steps you’ve taken – often with intense physical pain – trying to improve the lives of your family. You’ve been selfless when your family needed it and put your needs, and occasionally your pride, on the back-burner for your kids and your wife.
I hope that your family continues to grow in happiness and peace of mind knowing that the sacrifices you’ve made will provide a lasting, positive outcome.
I am exceedingly proud to call you my brother, even though in the last two decades or so I’ve probably seen you the least of anyone in our family. The reasons we don’t get to spend as much time with you as we’d all like, however, need no explaining, no excuses. Your commitment to your wife, your kids, your job and your faith – while still allowing yourself to be the same affable, fun person you’ve always been is an absolute model to be emulated by each and every person you meet.
Remember that where you came from doesn’t have to impact who you are today, or where you’re going, but that as brothers and sisters we are always here for one another.
The work and energy you’ve put into becoming the man you are, being a model husband and father to seven kids, your relentless pursuit of knowledge, both spiritually and in your secular work, is remarkable. Combining those factors with your new – and certainly not asked for role as our family’s de facto leader – is even more impressive. You possess a patience and kindness that is unrecognizable in a world gone mad and you’ve earned each and every blessing that God has given you to this point and those you’ll receive in the future.
I hope that at some point you are able to sit down, take a deep breath and know that it was all worth it: in this life and the next.
I realize that things have been harder for you these last few years than people know. You’ve displayed incredible strength against tough circumstances physically throughout your entire life (I mean, you’ve had what, 45 brain surgeries?) and yet you’re still beating the odds and doing things that no one ever would have assumed you’d do. You’ve sacrificed repeatedly for your family and have worked hard to change the direction of your and to do something that you and your children can be proud of.
I’m proud of the person you are and I hope that the efforts you’re making to better yourself result in a more complete, happier family because ultimately that is how you’ll measure your success; but I know you can’t consider that until you’re happier with yourself. Get there.
You may be the single most brave person in our entire, messed up family. Your life has never been easy, and lesser people would have let the challenges and disappointments break them down to an inescapable sadness, and you refused to. Every time I see you now I marvel at the inner-strength you possess and the way you’ve grown capable of always having a smile on your face; a stunning departure from the girl who “hated this whole family” for years. You’re a remarkable woman and a great sister.
I hope that you never stop searching for the things that make you happy.
You are a true super-woman. Your path to this point has been as difficult and as heartbreaking as anyone, anytime, anywhere, yet you persist. You fight against the odds and you win and you’re only just getting started. There’s absolutely nothing that you’re unable to do when you allow yourself to, and you’ve never allowed yourself to because the single greatest thing you’ve ever done is be a rock star mom to six kids who would not have made it through a week without you. You stand up for yourself and your beliefs and you make tough decisions that most others would never make, and I’m never not impressed.
Do not settle. Ever. That is the only way you’ll ever fail.
Just because you’re the baby, doesn’t – and has never meant – that you were the least of anything. You’re diligent and hard-working, smart and savvy and as talented as anyone in this entire family could ever hope to be. You’ve defied your self-applied odds and become an absolutely incredible mother to a child that is as special as you are. You’ve seen the darkness in the hearts of people and chosen the light and that is a testament to a type of strength that can’t be learned. You’ve become a measured, well-reasoned adult that still believes in wonder and fairy tales and the power of song and that’s so rare anymore.
Continue to love fully, and with your whole heart, and the world is your oyster.
I love you all.