My sister in law, Donna, has been one of my heroes since the day I met her. She is a bad ass warrior with the most loving, caring mama bear heart a human could possibly have. I’m spending my 50th year around the sun, writing about the 50 most impactful women in my life and Donna continues to show up on this list for me all-the-time.
I met Donna after marrying my previous was-band. There was plenty of collateral damage that came from that relationship but there was just as much or maybe MORE collateral beauty that came from that union and Donna is one of those beautiful sparks of life that remains active and alive in my heart today.
Donna Kirkpatrick is now retired from the Air Force but when I met her she was a high ranking officer and continued to climb the ranks with her self driven attitude for life. I visited her on base one day and was in awe of the leadership qualities that she commanded as we walked around. There was a beautiful respect from the officers we came in contact with and I felt I was in the presence of a celebrity by the way she was revered.
At home she has always been the most incredible mom to her two daughters. I watched her encourage them and teach them with her example that a woman could be anything she wanted to be. She worked hard and she loved even harder. When my relationship with her brother in law was done, she made it clear that she and my brother in law (my was-band’s brother) would be staying in my life and would be supporting me with whatever I needed.
I’m going to get a little vulnerable here. There was a time in my life when I was financially devastated. I had to get on state assistance for a time and I struggled to make ends meet. As a single mom, I did my best to keep a roof over my kiddos head and food on the table but there was nothing left for extras. During this time school was about to start for my boys and I received the email from the teacher with all the supplies needed. I cried. Plain and simple. I just cried. There was no way for me to be able to get a few new clothing items for my boys and get them supplies. I don’t know how she knew, but I got a call from Donna. She told me to meet her at Target. She and my brother in law bought all the supplies on the list, along with new backpacks and a few other bonuses for my boys. I will never forget how much their heartfelt generosity meant to me…. When I truly knew they were not obligated at all to assist me.
I found my definition of “sacrifice” as I watched Donna be deployed and leave her family while her girls were still both young. She was in Afghanistan during a very tumultuous time in our planet’s history and though I don’t know details, I know she made a difference. She would send me and my boys little presents from the local people and when an NFL coach came to visit, she made sure to get autographs for my kids. She is incredibly thoughtful. She is an amazing auntie. She is a fierce patriot! She is an incredible leader! She is so courageous! AND She is truly my hero!! She sacrificed so much time watching her young girls grow up to make sure our country was safe and that our soldiers had incredible leadership.
We have stayed in contact for the past many, many years. I’m so excited for the next chapter in her life to roll out as she is to be the mother of the bride this year. I am so honored to continue to walk each new season of life by her side (even if it is virtually across the country much of the time) and I’m beyond blessed that I still get to call MY sister!