Today is Gen’s birthday. I won’t say how old she is because I don’t actually know how old she is, and I don’t really feel like taking the time to do the math based on her birth year.
I wanted to just share a few of my favorite memories from our childhood so our readers can have a better understanding of who Gen is from my perspective. I should mention that Gen has NO IDEA I'm doing this, and she's usually the one who corrects my grammar errors, so if you see a poor word choice or extra commas where there shouldn't be, don't say I didn't warn you.
My whole life I wanted to give the greatest speech at Gen’s rehearsal dinner (wedding speeches in New Orleans take place then). Every time a new memory would be made, I’d keep track of it so I could bring it up at her rehearsal dinner speech. Unfortunately, the week Gen got married, I was going through a very difficult time of grief, so my mind was somewhere else and my speech was nowhere near the quality I wanted for her. Even as I type this today, I’m sure I won’t feel like it’s enough for her (just because she’s given me so much my whole life). But I do want to share just a few things about Gen that you should know, simply because it’s her day and she deserves to be affirmed.
I don’t remember much from when I was a baby (obvs), but I do have picture evidence that when I came home from the hospital, as she had been instructed to do so, Gen “shared her toys” with me. If you look at the picture (which I don’t have access to now), you’d be hard pressed to find my head because there are so many toys covering my face. Some say sharing, I say smothering, but tomato tomAHto, you get the gist. I think she was already showing at an early age that she comprehended more than most kids her age (which was about two and a half years old by the time I was born), and she was ready to do away with the cute baby who made her split her parents’ attention. Then again, it seems more like Gen’s personality to actually be sharing and to be doing it the best way she knew how, because Gen doesn’t do anything halfheartedly. She’s all in, and when she does something she does it well. She also has always really loved her sister.
One of the things I remember best from when we used to play together as children would be that sometimes Gen would get my brother and me to play games that enabled her to read whatever book she was reading, as long as she made it seem like she was playing with us. For example, we used to play “nomads,” which meant that we each got a small piece of French bread (a staple food in our house growing up), and we’d have to make it last the whole game because we had no money to get more bread. We’d travel from one corner of the house to another corner of the house, taking a little bit of bread at each stop. The funny thing was, though, that Gen would always make us wait to move locations until she finished a chapter of her book. Sometimes if she had a long chapter, we’d be waiting around for a while just sitting there watching her read her book and waiting until we moved to the next spot. Which would mean I’d usually finish my bread after the first time we moved, because I was bored and had nothing else to do. (Maybe that explains why I “bored eat” now.) I write about this not to tell you that Gen was a bad sister or no fun to play with (because she definitely was a great sister and lots of fun to play with—usually) but because it highlights her love for books, which is one of Gen’s most archetypal traits. She not only looks like Princess Belle, but in my opinion she is Princess Belle, just holier and prettier and smarter and not a cartoon and with a better prince.
When I was entering high school, I remember feeling so many opportunities to change who I was. There would be so many girls (I went to a school of all girls) who didn’t know me; I could dye my hair now, I could go to parties, I could do whatever I wanted. But because of Gen, because Gen never changed who she was, because she always stayed true to her love of God, her family, and her passions in life, I was able to stay true to myself. I didn’t feel like I needed to change myself, because Gen hadn’t. It was Gen who encouraged me to pray with her as a little girl—something that if only my parents had done, I most likely would have rebelled against later in life. Gen gave me the desire to stay true to myself and to my faith. She was, and remains, unwavering. Not perfect, but persistent—in prayer, in the intellectual life, and now in her role as a wife and mother. I will always be indebted to her for the inspiration she gave and continues to give me.
When Gen met Dalton, I wasn’t sure what would happen with them until I actually met him myself. Gen met him and didn’t know if he liked her until way after they’d met (we should really write about how we met our husbands—maybe that will be an upcoming post). But when I met him, I immediately liked him. He was so friendly, so funny, so in love with Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Disney, and so doting on Gen that I knew they would be a perfect match. I honestly couldn’t have dreamed up a better man for her than Dalton. And let me tell you, I have SUPER high standards about what is good enough when it comes to men my friends date, and even more with those whom my sister dates (or dated). To me, Gen is just one of the best women I know, and anyone less than perfect for her was going to break my heart. But with Dalton, I knew she would be loved, she would be cherished, and every holiday and birthday she would be given some piece of nerdy paraphernalia. So when they got married, it was one of the best days of my life, knowing that my sister would be in the best hands and loved by the best man for her all of her life.
Now that she has Patrick, she has again become my main source of inspiration. She always answers my questions, calms my fears, and listens when I just want to cry or laugh about something. She loves her baby and my baby, and she shows me what it means to surrender my desires for the sake of my family.
These words feel so insufficient, but it’s just a small dose of what I think about Gen and what I think you should know about her. So happy birthday, Gen! Hopefully when you read this, you cried a little. Love, your sister, first roommate, and the beneficiary of your hand-me-downs, Kath.
P.S. You’re welcome for not including that picture of us on Grandparents day 2001.
P.P.S. Thanks, Mom, for taking pictures of these baby pictures and sending them to me! You’re the real MVP.