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