Saturday, February 11, 2012

Such a Gift

Happy birthday, Gabi!

If my memory is not totally cheating me, it was the spring of 1996. He was 17. I walked in our room, and my sister, then 18, introduced me to “her boyfriend”. As any good, overprotective older sister, I was always dubious of my baby sister’s choices. This was no exception.

He was as skinny as a rail, very tall (his skinny-ness made him even taller), with long, silky hair draping over his broad shoulders. He had an overly confident look about him, and despite his young age he seemed very, very serious – like he had already deciphered the mystery of life and he was not about to share the secret.

I told my sister almost immediately that she should dump him! I didn’t approve.

As a good younger sister, she, of course, rebelled against everything that older folks would try to advise her. This was no exception. And the rest of the story, is history – pretty much.

I watched Gabi grow up with my sister. They were high school sweethearts, as you might call them. They did everything together. He spent the nights at our house, and when my parents moved and remodeled, she spent the nights at his parents’ house. We spent holidays, and summer vacations and birthdays together. He was always there. Since they met, it was always “the two of them” in any function both of our families had.

After 4 years of dating, in 2000, they married. Then, they made together the long and painful journey of becoming Canadian citizens. They moved in North America in 2004. They had their first baby boy in 2008, and the second in 2011. Slowly, and quietly, Gabi become my family. Now, I cannot imagine our lives without him.

My relationship with him was not always easy. We are both stubborn and very, very strong personalities. Foolishly, I tried to correct him in everything he did, because I was older, and I thought, well, wiser, too. He steadfastly went about being who he was, bluntly showing me that he won’t change just because I could not “deal with it”. We both sulked. And then made up.

Not until recent years did I realize that we’re not agreeable to each other because we are way too much alike. My sister, in her infinite wisdom and love, discovered that. And she was right.

Also, not until recent years, did I realize what a gift he is to the world, and to our family. How his love and honesty has kept my sister together in her darkest, toughest moments, when I could not be there for her anymore. How his maturity and presence, but mostly his unbounded love, has helped her through. He is one of the most generous people I know. He gives everything to those that he loves– his time, his cash, his attention and if you’re smart enough to take it, his advice.

Romania, 2007

Other than mundane things, like music, technology and health tips, he has also taught me acceptance, respect and patience. For these, I will cherish him forever.

He is still serious. And stubborn. But I love his sense of giving and his loyalty to what he believes in. I love his incredible love for his family and for his children.

Today, I am ever so grateful that he has happened to us! Looking back at that spring 1996 day, I realize that I am not always right, that I cannot demand people to be what I consider “perfect”, and that it takes time to learn and respect and love someone. And I am so glad that my sister doesn't always listen to me!

Thank you, Gabi, for being patient with me over the years! Thank you for helping me grow up. Thank you for all the memories you have given me and my family – trips, holiday dinners, teaching me about class, style and staying hip. Thank you for encouraging me, when I was down. Mostly, thank you for being there, for the three of them! You are a gift.

Much love,

Your ever-so-stubbornly sister-in-law who loves you much.

Friday, February 10, 2012

One Year. One Life

No one knows how long we live. We only know that we are here now. For all of us, here, now, however much we have lived so far has to be … our lifetime. It’s all relative, for each of us, of course.

My baby nephew, my baby sister’s little one, is one today. So far, this is his lifetime. A lifetime of being born, growing up and learning everything, every single second of every waking minute. There is nothing that fills me more with unbridled love than thinking of and seeing my nephews! They are so fresh, so pure, so full of life, they leave me breathless.

Just like his brother, the story of his birth is not an easy one to tell. Like any mother will tell you, every baby has their story, never easy, never painless, but always blessed! The story of his life, no doubt, will be more thrilling than that of his birth ever was. The journey has barely started.

He is one of the most precocious kids I have ever seen. Trying to always keep up with his older brother, he’s already saying words and walking by himself. His favorite toys (when they are not the ones he fights over with his brother) are fresh veggies in the bottom drawer of the fridge. He has a determination and a will hard to fathom for a body so small.

Although he doesn’t remember his life so far, us, around him, remember every moment of it. We thank him for every second he has given us, every piece of wisdom, every wonder, and most especially, every smile. Every inimitable and bright smile with which he has showered our lives in the past 365 days.

Even in his short one year life, he has given the world much needed light, and my family a feeling of completeness. We are forever grateful. I have only one regret – that of too short a time that we spend together.

Happy birthday, Happy Little Man! May you always be blissful. May you always be loved. May the world never spoil the beauty of your being and the clarity of your eyes. Thank you for all you have given us already. We can only hope we won’t disappoint.

Many hugs.

I am speechless in a moment of such loving celebration, and I believe no words I could possibly scramble for could do this big day justice. But my sister has put together this priceless movie of his first year of life, and, as always, pictures speak so much louder than words. So, I let her slideshow roll.

Enjoy, everyone:

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Food so Good (and Much) It’s Stupid

The gist of this entry ...

Why I do it, it’s beyond me! I have done it, probably since I was a kid, and I still learn no better as I grow older. I think, to some degree, the majority of us do it. We all eat at least one meal a year that we just let abuse us! We can’t and won’t and should stop eating it! Just one more mouthful, we say. Just one. After another. And yet another. Against our better judgments and our feeling of misery as we eat more …

Yesterday, I was craving “exotic” food. That, for me, means anything that I have not had in a long while, or anything that is not meat and potatoes. It means anything that has some foreign flavors (usually Asian). I was also craving lots and lots of it. So much, in fact, till my stomach would just expand! Don’t ask me why I was in such a destructive mood – I just was.

So, after a crappy week (yeah, I know – this was the cause of the mood, right?! - maybe), we headed to where else but the capital of all gourmand-ry of the world - the Japanese steakhouse. You know, one of those places where “they cook in front of you” and they feed you till you throw up. Literally.

The meals are overpriced, but the dishes keep coming, so how can you complain?! They come with a salad, and a soup, and rice and meats of your choice and veggies, and … after three changes of plates you feel how your pants are gonna explode and you’ll be left in public, butt naked and covered in chewed up rice and meat! And you loosen your belt and keep shoveling. Till you can hardly walk!

And it all is soooo tasty! All fresh, off the grill and hot, and how can you stop?! Why should you, right?! You’re paying your sh^tty week’s paycheck for it, after all? Eat up!

Some of the people around our table ordered “the house special” which included three meats, two appetizers and a dessert. We all needed stretchers after that, seriously! That is self-killing by eating!

I could hardly stand up after that. I drove home in pain, plopped myself on the couch, took a handful of Tums and felt like an idiot! Was the taste even worth feeling so miserable?! Who cares,when you have a craving! Will I stop half way before throwing up next time? Probably not.

Maybe this was just a practice run for the trip to Romania we have scheduled this year. Because eat-Tums-bathroom-repeat is what the 2 weeks in the motherland will be like.

I think the human body has an amazing ability to forget pain. So the stomach ache that ensued, the self loathe, the heavy feeling dragging me down, the sleepless night will be long forgotten by the time the next “let’s-eat-ourselves-silly-on-exotic-food” will strike again. I make no promises for the future. But right now, I am off to the treadmill, for a repentance run and an apology to my hips!