Today would have been my older sister Cathy’s 59th birthday. It’s been 28 years since she passed away. It feels like forever, and yet since her passing, my family has always acknowledged her birthday as Daughter’s Day. I grew up in a family with four girls, my mom and my grandmother. With six women in the house, my poor dad must have been overwhelmed.
Cathy was the most enterprising person I knew. When we were kids, she was always busy. She used to sell Blair products and engraved Christmas cards door-to-door in our Brooklyn neighborhood. She raised money consistently for the March of Dimes. She even hosted a carnival complete with corporate sponsors to raise money for Jerry Lewis’s Muscular Dystrophy charity at our summer home in Pennsylvania. I remember having large canisters of horse manure in our Brooklyn backyard for a science project when she was a student at Stuyvesant High School. She approached local ranchers to acquire said manure. Cathy wasn’t scared to talk to anyone, and this was all when she was only a kid!
My sister wasn’t always the easiest person to get along with. She had lots of opinions and knew she was born to lead. All of us younger siblings were well aware of her authority, whether we liked it or not. When people asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up, she would say “CEO of a major corporation.” First of all, what kid talks like that? At the time, I had no idea what she was talking about. But that was Cathy. She was a ball of fire, full of confidence and definitely not to be fucked with.
I remember when I decided to quit school to start working. I planned to get my bachelor’s degree at night school. She said, “You can do that, but you’re making things harder for yourself.” I didn’t understand her at the time. I thought I had it all figured out. That’s something we had in common – much like the old Frank Sinatra song, we both wanted to do things our own way. (If you’re too young to know the song, “My Way” by Frank Sinatra, I need you to Google! Shirley Bassey also has her own version. I’ve been a fan of Shirley since I was a little girl. My mom loved her…)
Today feels like a perfect day to share some of the things I learned from my big sister. (Cathy was six years older than me.) Maybe you can learn from her too:
- Be your own best cheerleader. – Nobody wants to root for a team that doesn’t believe in itself. If you don’t show up with confidence and a “can-do” attitude, it will be hard to find supporters. So do like Cathy did and shout from the mountaintops. No one is better than you!
- Fight for what you want. – Be prepared for struggle. Some folks will try to tell you that you ain’t all that. They may say you’re too short, too skinny, too loud, too young or too annoying. If they come at you, they better be prepared to fight! Stand up for what you believe about yourself and your right to have an impact in this world.
- Nothing works as well as action. – All that cheering and fighting doesn’t mean a thing if you don’t hit the ground running and do the work. I remember the summers she worked at McDonald’s mopping floors, so, be humble and get the job done!
- When the work is done, pamper yourself. – When all the cheering, fighting and working is done, take your beautiful self to the mall, spa or nail salon. Get your hair done. Let your exterior be a reflection of your beautiful confident interior. When money’s tight, soak in the tub and paint your nails at home. Treat yourself like the royalty you are.
- Be prepared to pivot. – As much as we plan, life can throw some curveballs. Be ready to duck, lean to the side and even hideout for a minute. When the train goes off the tracks, be prepared to lay new track.
My sister Cathy had a double major from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. She spent her career as a corporate executive at Proctor & Gamble. She was the first one to take me to a spa. I’ll never forget our weekend at Gurney’s in Montauk, Long Island. She spent her life battling both sickle-cell anemia and later mental health issues. She had one child. She was only thirty-one when she died.
Sometimes we think our life will last forever. Or, we think we will always have the same mental and physical capacity as we age. We think we have an unlimited amount of time to have an impact. Cathy taught me that you never know how much time you have, so you better get moving!
What can you learn from the lives of your family and friends who are no longer here? What can you learn from the lives of all the celebrities we’ve lost over the years? I hope you learn to breathe in each day as a gift and get on the path toward your dreams!
I wish you passion, purpose and the realization of your fullest potential!
P.S. The photo is of my sister, Cathy, taken on my wedding day in 1987. I’ll be covering my weekly topics and more on Facebook LIVE, beginning on Wednesday, June 30, 2021 @ 8:30pm. Click the link to follow my page. I hope to see you LIVE!