Meet a Fabulous Lady: Shirlee DiBacco

 

I am the bashful one on the left - the only known documentation of me being camera shy.  That cutie on the right - that's my sissy.  And today is her day to know how loved she is.
I am the bashful one on the left; this is the only known documentation of me ever being camera shy. That cutie on the right – that’s my sissy, (Edna) Shirlee Costello DiBacco.  She is the best person I know…in fact, she’s probably the best person MANY people know.  Today is her birthday, and a fitting occasion to celebrate her fabulousness.

Today the best gift God ever gave me was born.  She arrived five years before me to show me the way…

…the way to apply makeup and walk in platform heels; to introduce me to Cat Stevens and Tony Bennett (not literally, but musically); to endlessly carpool me (never once complaining) and to let me borrow her clothes.

Most of all my sissy, Shirlee DiBacco, taught me – over and over again, by example – what it means to love.  

And not just when she intervened, vehemently opposing my parents threats to  put me in a wheelbarrow and sell me to another family if I didn’t stop crying.  (Listen, this was the 60’s and moms and dads weren’t as mindful of the fragile psyche of a toddler.  And they weren’t REALLY going to sell me.  At least I hope not.)

Beautiful inside and out, Shirlee is a wildly gifted artist, a David Letterman groupie, an unbeatable Scrabble player, and in recent years, a runner (!) and ukulele player (!).  If she hadn’t been so nice to me, I’m sure I would have suffered a lifelong inferiority complex.

Today’s tribute, though, is not mine to give.  It comes from her firstborn, Deena DiBacco.

The apple didn't fall far from the tree - Deena is a stunning beauty, too - and her gift for putting words together is a treat we can all enjoy today.
The apple didn’t fall far from the tree – Deena is a stunning beauty, too – and her gift for putting words together is a treat we can all enjoy today.

Take it away, Deena…

As Mother Earth has sprung new life into being since the beginning of time, our own mothers do the same. They give birth to us, creating and recreating the gift of existence across time and space.

My mother is one of these women. In mid-June of 1985, I left the warm comfort of her womb and took my first breath, screaming and thrashing under harsh hospital lights.

The moment a child is born, a mother begins a deep journey of the heart.

Life becomes no longer about self, but about a precious child.

This was the journey my mother had yearned for. The journey of motherhood, she knew it, was her life’s purpose.

But she could never have realized, as she rocked and crooned to me in my first hours of life, how dense and tangled our path together would become.

The difference between my mother and other mothers is this: my mother gave me life, and then she had to save my life.

I could fully go into my story. A living hell on Earth. The multitudes of dark demons which I conjured into her life for many years.

But there is really no point.

The end result says it all.

Here I am, shining. Better than I could’ve dreamed I’d be.

All because my mother is who she is.

A woman whose beauty and radiant white light, whose ferocious raw-edged sheer will, whose unshakeable faith, sliced through all the despair until we healed it.

Amid all the darkness and blackness and hopeless emotions pulling her by the roots, this woman stood strong in her faith that God would find a way for me.

If the path to healing involved her being beaten and brutalized in the process, she would accept without question.

She refused to abandon hope, she gave years of her life to help her first born climb out of darkness.

Her love, I see so clearly, was selfless.

My mother sacrificed so much of herself to see that I could heal.

Thanks to her, if I never experience the miracle of having my own child, I can at least glimpse its brilliance. She showed me how sacred a mother’s love truly is.

My mother never gave up on me. Her faith, character, pure heart, selflessness, and her unwavering, unconditional love rose above all boundaries of ego. She refused to let the dark in, so long as her light was shining.

It is not easy to keep the light burning in a dark place.

But I have never known another being so committed to serving good, to upholding the light, as my mother. I am humbled to know my blood courses from the same source as hers.

Shirlee smiling
Mommy taught me medicine of the heart. She taught me that love and light will always conquer, for no dark can exist if there is even a glimmer of light present. She is, always was, and always will be my light.

When it was too dark for me to see my own way, she shone for me. Now that I can see again, I will make up for time spent blind by spending the rest of our journey together in full appreciation of her. I see her now. She is the ultimate mother, the ultimate nurturer, and the embodiment of unconditional love.

As she cared for me, my mother cares for all she knows and loves. She refuses to judge, she seeks out the good in each human being she meets. She serves, seeking nothing in return. Creating happiness in others is her source of joy. She is loving, she is kind, and her soul shines brightly.

My mother has a servant heart, a sword of truth, and the will to uphold all that is good.

She is an angel to many.

To my greatest teacher of all, on the day of her own birth.

God was smiling the day he created you.

Thank you for being my mother.

Shirlee and Deena and David
Deena, Shirlee and her youngest, David. So much shining going on in this photo I need sunglasses.

And from me, a million thanks for being the best sister ever…

Mom Shirlee and I
And a faithful daughter to our Mom.

…and the wife of any man’s dreams (particularly, Tony’s dream come true.)

Shirlee and Tony

And of course, Daddy’s little “Nee-nee…”

Shirlee and Daddy

Every role you play is infused with love and grace; kindness and beauty.

This week’s FLUFFI word of the week is TRANSFORMATION, and it is lovely to consider how one person’s life can be a catalyst in this holy process.  Your life, my wonderful sister, is a perfect example.

Feel free to send some love Shirlee’s way today and leave a comment!

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10 thoughts on “Meet a Fabulous Lady: Shirlee DiBacco

  1. Loved reading this all over again. What a tribute! When I finished reading it this time all I could picture was a piece of artwork I saw earlier this week of Joan of Arc standing fully clad in armor with sword and shield ready to defend. Hope this birthday is a fabulous one and many more.
    Sent with much love and hugs, AJ

  2. What a profound tribute to a fantastic lady, my niece, Shirlee. Deena writes like her Aunt Brenda – with deep feeling and magnificent words. I can’t praise this beautiful piece enough. Shirlee so deserves it.
    To Shirlee — have a spectacular birthday, celebrate well, and continue to be the happiest person I know. With much love and respect, Aunt Joan
    P.S. Tol my sister, Bette, Shirlee’s mother — you did real good girl with both of your talented children!

  3. This post positively riveted me. I’ve said before that I like everything about Shirlee (& that I had a crush on Deena too), but now I’m swooning. A mother’s love—esp this warrior mama’s—is the stuff of legend. Happy Birthday & deepest heart bows, Shirlee!

  4. WHAT AN ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL WAY TO START MY MONDAY TO READ SUCH AN AWESOME BIRTHDAY TRIBUTE TO SHIRLEE. DEENA, YOU HAVE SUCH A BEAUTIFUL GIFT, LIKE YOUR AUNT BRENDA, FOR WRITING. I WAS SO TOUCHED BY WHAT YOU HAD TO SAY ABOUT YOUR MOM. EVEN IF YOU DIDN’T KNOW SHIRLEE, YOU GOT THE ESSENCE OF HER AMAZING SPIRIT.

    SHIRLEE, HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I AM SO GRATEFUL I HAVE KNOWN YOU FOR ALL THESE YEARS, AND EVEN THOUGH WE DON’T SEE EACH OTHER OFTEN, IT IS THE TIMES WE HAVE THAT HAVE BEEN SO SPECIAL TO ME. I LIKED YOU FROM THE MINUTE I MET YOU. I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN INTO THE PERSONALITY TRAITS OF THE DIFFERENT SIGNS PEOPLE ARE BORN UNDER, AND YOURS, LIKE MY HUSBANDS, IS ONE OF THE MOST LIKEABLE, LOVEABLE, PEOPLE ON THE PLANET! HAVE A SUPERNATURAL DAY! MAKE SURE YOU PICK YOUR ‘WORD’ ! MUCH LOVE, RENEE (:

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