I can vividly remember growing up and feeling like my sister hung the moon. She was the epitome of everything "cool" and "smart" and "fun." I wanted so much to be like her. She was exciting and outgoing, and could run faster and jump higher than any boy I knew. She had the blond hair I always wanted and was the athlete I would never become. Everyone loved her and I admit that there were plenty of times that I felt quite a bit of jealousy towards her ease in social situations. She was my hero. The first hero I ever had.
Jill's life was always destined to go down a different path than mine. When she was my age, she was already a mother and a wife. She always knew that was what she wanted to be when she grew up. I always find it amusing when people downplay women who choose to be homemakers as a career, because I have seen first hand how difficult that job can be. It really is one of the most difficult career paths someone can go down, and I continue to admire my sister for excelling at it. With her hands full as a Mom to four children, all of which have classes and lessons to attend on a daily basis, Jill handles it the way she does everything else in her life. She glides through it, making it look like the easiest thing possible. When Jill went into the hospital last fall, it took no less than her 4 siblings, 3 in-laws, husband, parents, and 4 nieces to fill her shoes. That's just the way it is with Jill. She's got some tough Jack Purcell's to fill.
As the months wear on, and Jill has begun to update us on her own through her social networking sites, I am right back to where I was when I was 8 and she was 12. I watch in awe as my original hero emerges from what might be her toughest obstacle yet in the only way she knows: success. Her daily trials are many and her frustrations are probably more, but she does it all with dedication and her long-standing drive. Jill has always been someone that I admire, but she has become a different hero as of late. A better one. Her strength stands to remind me every day that life will never stop being difficult. And sometimes when you least expect it, it throws you a giant curve ball. But the way I see it, the real heroes in life aren't the people who climb one mountain. They're the people who never stop climbing them.