Today’s my sister Kathy’s birthday, third in the line of “Hess Girls,” and likely the most gifted of the four of us. My mother once told me that she decided to walk, talk, and feed herself for the first time … all on the same day. “She just kind of sat back and watched, then, when she was ready, she just decided to join the rest of the world.”
That initial promise was compromised and nearly lost when a misguided crush her junior year of high school went horribly, horribly wrong. She did not realize — none of us did — that she had fallen into the clutches of an abuser. Playing on her sympathies, giving her gifts, isolating her from friends and even family . . . then threatening to harm himself, and everyone she cared about. The smiling, carefree girl she once was disappeared, replaced by a ghost.
But my sister is a fighter, and when she finally decided she was ready to join the rest of the world again, she broke free of the man who was now her husband, taking her young daughter with her. She went on to marry a man who loves them both, had another daughter. Both my nieces have all the artistic and intellectual promise of their mother — God’s way of redeeming the past, I’d say. The scars are still there, but she has spent her life standing up for those who, like her at that time, have no one to help them break free of the hell that is domestic violence. And I am so very proud of her.
Happy birthday, Kate. I love you.