Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year's Tribute

Earlier this fall, a friend and I attended a behind-the-scenes tour of a joint exhibit of Calder's jewelry and Miro's works at our city's art museum. I learned a ton, including that most of Calder's jewelry would be unwieldy to wear, albeit beautiful.

Our tour guide shared that Calder gifted many of his works to his wife, on birthdays, anniversaries, and on New Year's Day, when kings and their artists typically exchanged gifts. New Year's gifts from artists to their patrons were meant to honor the role benefactors played in making artists' work possible.

That tradition struck me and stuck with me. I am sure anyone could credit someone with making his/her current life's work possible, if not easier. In my case, there are many people I could thank for allowing me to raise a family and pursue the career that has felt just about right at each turn and trajectory.

But it's easy for me to identify the person who has enabled me to be the mother I want to be and the professional I need to be. My sister-in-law has made it her work--at this life juncture at least--to raise her children and assist in the caring and loving of mine (and numerous others') as well. She does this with an ease and generosity of spirit that is unique and extraordinary and far surpasses the role of "Auntie."

My sister-in-law does more than pick up my daughter from school, ensuring that her backpack and lunchbox are in order. She does more than make sure our daughters can be involved in extracurricular activities while their parents are at work and does more than make herself available for emergencies and more than saves us additional daycare costs on Fridays and vacation days, when she welcomes our daughters seamlessly into her fold.

She helps develop them into considerate family members. She teaches our daughters to be compassionate, empathetic members of a community of children and neighbors on her family's busy block. Having grown up among the dynamics of a loving extended family, she has taught us and our daughters its infinite value.

On a personal level, my sister-in-law has afforded me precious and invaluable commodities. She has reassured me that my children will be okay while I work. She has offered unconditional friendship, love, and time. She respects my life and work choices, expecting only that I do the same in turn for her. She absolves me of the guilt of indebtedness.

And so we appreciate and honor one another, in a relationship that is surprisingly uncomplicated and mutually admiring.

I know few people who benefit from the support of family members so close by. I know even fewer who live only three blocks from the treasure we've come to count on: cousins, caring, and Auntie K.

I owe many past pleasures and successes in part to you. I look forward to many more shared adventures in the next year and decade.

Happy New Year; I love you.


Mama Deb said...

Wow. That is awesome and another checkpoint in the 'move' column for us. I have a great sister-in-law like that who I know would do the same for me (and I for her) if we lived closer. You're can never move!!

Jared and Kate said...

Lucky that my children (and I!) will benefit from the same this year when we travel down!

me said...

What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful woman! I'm so glad I count her as friend (and you, too Fer).