As the first Sister Story that I am posting to this website, I pondered how I could possibly put into words a recent celebration that my sisters and I planned and executed--a project we affectionately called "Operation Belinda." Before I get into the story, let me tell you about Belinda and how I came to meet her. It's a real example of how God weaves his plan for us in ways that we are not aware at the time, but when all comes together, the connections and the reason for the connections become apparent. I met Belinda through my girlfriend Roz. Roz met Belinda through a guy she was dating who I introduced her to. Confused yet? Although things didn't work out between Roz and the guy, God blessed her with a wonderful friendship with Belinda that would've never happened if she hadn't dated the guy. Belinda's longtime girlfriend Jaye (who gave her stamp of approval when she came up from Atlanta to Michigan to "check out" Roz and I) was also part of this fabulous weekend and Shirley, Belinda's neighbor and good girlfriend (who is now a special girlfriend to Roz, Jaye and I) completed the circle. It's important for women to learn how to "share" friends. I know this is often a problem for many women, but that's a conversation for another day. Back to Belinda.
Belinda is a SURVIVOR! She's a breast cancer SURVIVOR. She is a beautiful, highly educated, giving, loving, kind, inspirational, WIFE, MOTHER, SISTER, AUNT, DAUGHTER-in-LAW, SISTER-in-LAW, etc. Roz said it best to Belinda "Thank you for loving us enough to take care of yourself." As Belinda was going through her test, she kept us encouraged by her faith and her high spirits. She knew that God was giving her the "test" so that she could have the "testimony." She knew that she would bless others with her story. Belinda is now cancer-free, fine and fabulous!! Belinda is a Family Nurse Practitioner, and she recently completed her Masters in Health Administration. She has a wonderful husband, Sissay and is the mother of two wonderful children, Amanuel and Selam.
Let me get to Operation Belinda--a slumber party celebrating her 50th birthday, that was rooted in love, support, and sisterhood. Jaye and I snuck into town (I live in Ohio, Jaye lives in Atlanta). It's funny when you're sneaking around, you're so paranoid. Believe me, I don't know how people live secret lives. I was scared I was going to see her, I was scared she was going to come by my parents' house unnannounced. And of course, none of that happened. So we finally get to the BIG DAY after so many days of sleeplessness due to our excitement for pulling off our plan flawlessly. Operation Belinda had 12 themes. We gave Belinda "The Year of Wishes Candles" with the words: Wealth -twice, Love, Health, Comfort, Balance, Peace, Fun, Luck, Success, Joy, and Adventure. In each gift bag, along with each candle, were items that had special meaning for each word. When she burns the candles, she will find a charm at the center and after all are burned, Roz will create one of her special bracelet designs with all of the charms.
So, we decide that we're going to pull the ol' Publishers Clearing House style of surprise and bring her balloons and her first gift (FUN). We should've taped this because it was pure comedy. She thought she was going shoe shopping with Roz and because we were late getting to her house, she decided that she would go out and run some errands. So, we knock on the door, the next door neighbor comes out and asks us what's going on, and we finally realize that she's not home. We then get back in the car with the balloons to try it again. As we're waiting for her to get to the house, we decide that Roz needs to get her upstairs so that we can sneak in the house. I tell Roz "Tell her you started your period." I then look at her with a very serious look on my face and said "Do you even still have a period?" The car erupted into laughter. Of course, Roz didn't quite think it was so funny and she looked at me and said 'As a matter of fact, I don't." We all laughed again. She was so outdone that I asked her that! Only a sister could do this right?
Well, as we're waiting for Belinda to come home, we decide to park down the street away from the sub entrance that she would come through. Well, wouldn't you know, she took a different route and passed right by us, balloons and all. She then slows down in front of her house because she's expecting to see Roz's car (she still thinks that she's going shoe shopping). There's no car in the driveway because Roz is in my car. She calls Roz to ask her where she is. Roz tells her she is just down the street. After she gets in the house, we run to the side of the house and as the Mission Impossible theme song is playing in all of our heads, we roll onto the porch so that she can't see us from her living room window. Roz gets inside, asks her about the pad, tells her she started her period and Belinda has gone into "Nurse Practitioner" mode and is quite concerned that Roz is bleeding. Instead of going upstairs, she says "Oh I have a pad in my car" and begins to head outside. Oh, I forgot, Roz told her that her car ran out of gas and that's why it wasn't in the driveway. Belinda is getting a bit perturbed with all that's going on and then she hears the doorbell as she's going outside. I see her in the window of the house as we're huddled on the front porch and I say "I don't believe it, she's coming out of the garage." She has this stunned look on her face and says "What is going on here?" She continues to ask the same question over and over and it's clear she is having an out of body experience as most people do when they're completely caught off-guard. I can tell that she is finally recognizing that she is seeing Jaye and I and she is completely surprised. It's at this moment that we crown her our queen for the day (you will see the tiara in the pictures) and give her a copy of "The Sister Accord", a card explaining to her about the journey that she is about to experience, and her "Fun" bag that highlights the fact that she is being taken to dinner later in the evening. She still has no idea that she is going to be whisked away for an overnight experience that she will never forget as long as she lives. Of course, the tears are flowing mightily and we are all excited about finally bringing the plan to life that has been in the making for many months.
When we get to the hotel, Roz presents us with matching rings (she is the jewelry maker extraordinaire) that are simply beautiful and before we go to sleep that night (after dinner) we sang the theme song to The Golden Girls "Thank you for being a friend." It was hilarious!!
The moral of this story is to take time to let the people in your life know how special they are to you. Take the time to live, take the time to love and take the time to have FUN!! I hope this Sister Story inspires others to live as we do. Remember to love your sisters!