One of my known-forever-grew-up together cousins, Paula, is this week's Monday Hero ~ she is and always has been an awesome example to me in so many ways. Just barely older than me, I always wanted to be like her: her beautiful dark hair, her sparkling eyes, her great smile. As children, our families lived a couple of hours from one another in Southern California. We often spent days at a time at their house, and they at ours. I can still picture the layout of their home, the colorful non-breakable kitchen-ware (melmac, I seem to recall), and her dad's endless practical jokes!
Unbeknownst to Paula, she remained an example to me throughout the years. She has raised an incredible family while experiencing multiple challenges and trials. She is a happy, loving grandmother who still looks like she could be a young 40-year-old! But the most extraordinary single thing that Paula has done, in my opinion, is when she literally gave of herself to help prolong the life of our Uncle Ted.
Less than a decade ago, Uncle Ted needed a kidney. I know of others who were tested and were certainly willing to donate if they qualified. Despite that, only one person could. That one was our Paula. She did it quietly and purposely. She did it with compassion and love for a family member. And she would do it again, regardless of any physical or emotional pain it may leave her with. She is just that way.
Paula, you are one of my most favorite people in the world, and I am more than blessed to be your cousin! My hat is off to you, I appreciate who you are and what you represent. You remain an example of goodness, graciousness, and generosity. Thank you for being you!