Yesterday, May 16, 2010, was the ??th birthday of a very important woman in my life, my sister Jennifer Anderson. Now, I don’t want you to think that I have a bad memory. I know what year she was born and I know how much older she is than I am. However, I don’t know how she would feel if I told the whole world her age. So in order to protect the innocent (or not so innocent, depending on what she remembers me doing to her when we were growing up!), I am using question marks for her age instead of numbers.
In all honesty, I have very few memories of Jen and I living under the same roof. I remember riding in the back of Dad’s blue truck, heading down to visit Grandma Marilene on her farm. The wind did some strange things to Jen’s hair, and she looked like she had a bird’s nest growing on her head. This annoyed me, for some reason, so I decided that I would “fix” it. Only when I went to hit her hair, I missed and slapped the eyeglasses right off her face. I remember that she worked at Meijer and would sometimes buy things that I thought were odd. Like a table and chair set. Why would she need something like that when she didn’t have her own home yet? And I remember when she bought her own TV and how special I felt when she would let me go into her bedroom to watch something.
I was probably a very annoying little sister to live with. I am sure there were times—likely a LOT of times—when she got tired of me hanging around and just being in her hair. Back then, I was doing it to annoy her. How could I be a good little sister if I wasn’t constantly trying to annoy my big sister? Looking back, though, I am glad for those times when I was able to “spy” on Jen. I learned a lot from her. And I have to say, my big sister is one very admirable woman.
From Jen, I learned how to be completely committed to my husband. Kevin is, well, he’s Kevin! I was 12 or so when they started dating, and I honestly don’t know what all the “problems” were. But I do remember Mom and Dad not being overly thrilled with the relationship. Seems like there were some arguments about it, but Jen never wavered. Was it love? Stubbornness? Probably a bit of both! But she knew what she wanted, and she knew that Kevin Anderson was the man God created for her to spend her life with. She didn’t let anything that anyone said keep them apart.
I’ve learned how to be a good parent from watching Jen. Oh, I don’t think I have her patience. Or if she isn’t patient, than I didn’t get the acting gene that she did! I’ve heard her lose her temper with her kids, but she’s never backed down. She and Kevin have high standards for their kids. They expect a lot out of them. More than that, though, they have an unending amount of love for those kids. (It has to be love—after having three sons, they went on to have a daughter. I have three sons and can’t imagine anything short of love for children that would cause me to add to the chaos of the house!) My nephews and my niece are not perfect, but they are good kids (gosh, I hope it is OK to call a 6-foot-5-inch tall 20-year-old a kid) who love each other, love their parents, and love God. Really, what more could a parent asked for?
As the mother of four, Jen has had her share of crisis moments in life. Between broken bones and stitches, there was a family joke that when the Andersons moved out of Jackson, the local hospital would go out of business. (Come to think of it, the hospital did recently undergo a name change. Coincidence???) Jen’s second son was once hit by a car while riding his bike—his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles helmet was cracked nearly in two. While pregnant with her third son, Jen slipped on the ice and broke her leg—the break required that pins and screws be inserted into her leg to hold it together. If my math is right, she had a 5-year-old and a 3-year-old to take care of, but was unable to be on her feet at all for quite some time. Probably the most trying crisis came when her 6-year-old daughter was dropped off at the wrong corner after school—when my niece crossed a much busier street than she was used to, she was hit by a van. Not only hit, but her leg was run over. Over the years, she has had more surgeries than I can count to repair the damage done to her leg that day. Through it all, though, Jen didn’t complain. I would have handled it all by curling up in a ball and allowing depression to take over. Not Jen. She stayed strong—for her kids, for her husband, and even for her parents. I know she relied on God and on her strong faith in His son to get her through those times. Another great lesson to learn from my sister.
Jen has also taught me about forgiveness, about generosity, and the importance of following a dream. If I keep telling all of the wonderful things Jen has taught me, I’ll never get anything else written!
Happy birthday, Jen. Wish I could reach from Michigan to Indiana to give you a hug. I love you. Thanks for being such an awesome sister.