As you all know by now, my sister Karri received all the wordsmith genes in the family. I do believe that she has passed them on to her daughter Sophi, too (and possibly Evan, although no word on whether he has actually sat down long enough to put pen to paper to test the gene out). That being said, by the time it got to the third daughter, there was very little of the writing gene left, so please bear with me as I try to pay tribute to my oldest sister on her birthday.
My mom often tells the following story to describe her three daughters. If she drew a line in the sand and specifically told the three of us not to cross it, my response as the rule following baby would be to avoid crossing, approaching, looking at or thinking about the line. Kim, the middle daughter, who often lives in her own reality, would respond, “what line?” Oh but Karri, the first born, she would see the line and while looking you directly in the eye do whatever it took to cross it. Whether it be hopping, jumping, tiptoeing or nose-diving, she’s crossing it, line be darned. Even if awaiting her on the other side was a pit of gnarly crocodiles, she got over it. But you see, that is what makes Karri so great (albeit aggravating at times). Her tenacity to achieve whatever she has set her mind is a force not easily stopped. We have all seen it in her parenting. She would do anything, ANYTHING, for her three kids or Kevin and even her furry four-legged pals. And I know that she would stop at nothing for me, too.
I have often wondered what I would do if in a freak rule breaking accident I were to get arrested. Who would I call? Karri. In a heartbeat. Now she may not have the bail money, but she’d beg, borrow or steal to get me out. I remember one specific instance in the 5th grade, my parents were out of town and someone at school had spread a nasty rumor at me. My 12 year old heart was crushed (as 12 year old hearts so easily are). I thought of calling no one else but Karri. She talked me through the situation and even volunteered to call the rumor spreader and her mother. Now, even then I had known Karri long enough to know that my innocent private school friends and their parents were not prepared to deal with the fury of Karri-scorned, so I declined, but I will never forget that she was there for me then and countless other times. That’s another thing about Karri, not matter what she has going on, she will take the time to help you out. Like the time she “edited” my graduate school admissions essay the night before it was due. I’m sure she did this in between working full time, coaching Sophi or Evan in some kind of sport or watching Riley cheer at a football game.
Some of my earliest memories include time with Karri. I was born when Karri was 16 and I am sure she got the privilege of babysitting more often than she wanted. On several occasions people thought that I was her baby, not her baby sister. One day she had me in her cart at Wal-Mart and someone told her how cute her little girl was. She thanked the woman but told her that I was her baby sister. Then I pulled a move that I am sure I learned from her. I couldn’t have been more than three at the time, but I quickly responded, “Hey can I have this sucker, MOM?” Of course the people thought Karri was completely full of it and couldn’t believe she would call her baby her little sister. I believe this was my way of payback for her tricking me into eating the candles off my birthday cake when I was two. I also remember going over to her house after she had moved out and being allowed to do things mom would NEVER have let happen in our house. For one thing, our mom was extremely picky about what I ate. I never remember one time in my entire life eating Kraft mac and cheese at my mom’s. But when I went to Karri’s, not only did I get to eat mac and cheese, I was allowed to stand on a stool over the hot stove and stir the tasty treat (had Judy known this at the time it would have been enough for her to faint). Karri’s house was a place where fun could be had and messes could be made. I loved going there.
Looking up to Karri my entire life, I have learned many things. She may not always take the easy road, but she a unique way of finding joy along the path. If you have been around Karri at all you know that her quick wit keeps everyone around her laughing. She always puts others before herself and would do anything she could if she knew it would help someone else.
So here’s to you Karri on your birthday. I love you so much and wouldn’t trade you for any other big sister in the entire world.