My mother's family has had the honor, over the last few years, to get to know a new sister. Aunt Hazel, who grew up in the Philippines, married my Uncle Tom, and then was finally able to arrive in the U.S. in December of 2007.
We didn't really know her very well at the time, but we knew Uncle Tom loved her very much and so were excited to welcome her into the family. Over the years she has become an important member or our crazy little clan, and we love her dearly.
She might be a little quiet when there are so many of us together during the holidays, but her smile speaks volumes, and I know she makes my Uncle very happy. And let's be honest, anyone in a room with so many members of the P family is bound to be a little intimidated by the shear impossibility of getting a word in edgewise.
Today I was reminded of how precious she is to us, and to her family back in the Phillippines as well, by a video they made for her where they all gave birthday greetings and then sang for her. They didn't dwell on their separation, but instead sang a praise song and talked about how much they loved her. They made a huge sacrifice when they let their daughter, cousin, sister, friend leave them for the wild unknowns of west Texas. They love and miss her very much, but their love is the truest kind: unselfish and based on the love of Christ.
Hazel has now made herself an integral part of her workplace, her family, and her new country as she completed her citizenship in 2012. She is an inspiration to those of us who take our easy lives for granted. I hope that I will someday be able to say that my own love for others bears half the power of that of Hazel and her family.