My family on my mother's side was kind of a big deal at St. Gertrude's Church, and all of my brother's and sisters attended their elementary school.
So when my mother, on her way to a meeting somewhere in the school, dropped off my four year old little sister to wait for her in the back of my second grade classroom, my teacher didn't bat an eye.
In fact, my teacher let my sister take a test with all the rest of the kids. I guess she thought this was a good way to keep the kid occupied.
When we corrected our tests, I got seven wrong answers. My sister got three.
Thus began the war.
Therese Ann McShane Maltby was the last of nine children. The goodness of the family DNA must have waited for her. She's amazing.
When she learned to play the piano, I rarely heard her practice at home. Yet, in her first year of high school, my father bought a player piano. Tammy put in a roll, put her fingers where the keys were depressed, turned off the roll, and learned the song.
Flawlessly. At 14. The song was "Maple Leaf Rag," by Scott Joplin. Tough song to play. Every time I hear that, I think of her.
She was accepted into Marquette and got her nursing degree. Throughout her life, she's been dedicated to the help of others. Those who have crossed her path have been given only love, kindness and attention. I know this first hand because that's all she's capable of giving.
And she home schooled her children. While working. Four of them. I'd go on and on to tell you the litany of the academic and professional achievements these kids have put together, but I'd embarrass my sister.
I used to pound on her like she was my personal punching bag and I'm sure it helped my sister build character. Her shoulders must have my permanent fist mark in each one. But she rarely told on me. She just ducked a lot, wiped her tears, and read a book. I don't remember saying I was sorry. She just toughed it out. And she rarely hit me back. Because that's just her. She's that good.
I stand in awe of her. She deals with some health issues now, and she's pushing through. She's a tough Irish woman, and I know she'll be OK.
I wish she lived closer. I'd be smarter and kinder. You can't help that when you're around my sister. She radiates that energy.
I am a better person because I grew up with such an extraordinary little sister.
Happy Birthday Tam. I love you.