During my growing-up years, my blonde, blue-eyed sister, Lynn, was my childhood hero.
Five years my senior, Lynn was everything I wanted to be. Not only was she creative and beautiful, but she had been blessed with an amazing voice.
Every evening, as we did the dishes at the kitchen sink, Lynn would sing a medley of her favorite songs. I didn't even mind the drudgery of dish drying when I could listen to that clear, sweet sound.
In fact her singing was so enjoyable our neighbors, Mr. And Mrs. Vinnage, sat on their nearby porch every evening just to take in the impromptu concert.
Family and friends, aware of Lynn's talent, encouraged her to share it at church and school events. Unfortunately, she was so shy, she avoided singing anywhere except at home.
Lynn was 18 when Mom, who worked with the special services at nearby Carswell Airbase, heard that the widely-known Tommy Dorsey orchestra was coming to the base. Somehow she managed to arrange an audition with a band representative for Lynn. I'll never know how my shy, retiring sister made it thorough that stressful experience, but she pulled it off.
The band rep was so impressed with her talent, he offered her a contract on the spot. He asked her to join the band and go on its upcoming tour.
The idea both thrilled and terrified Lynn. Of course she turned it down cold, convinced she could never sing before crowds of strangers.
It was about that time that Lynn started smoking, a habit many teen-age girls of the era decided made them appear "cool."
Through the years, the sweet bell-like voice became deep and husky.
My beloved sister passed away early this year from long-term chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the result of all those years of smoking.
Today, we're eagerly watching another blonde, blue-eyed family member, granddaughter Rachel Querreveld, who, like her great-aunt, Lynn, has been blessed with the gift of a magnificent voice. But this smart and outgoing young woman is following a far different path.
For Rachel, that exceptional voice could hardly be contained in her petit body. From early childhood, she continually proclaimed she would someday be a professional singer.
Along the way, in addition to her many years of voice lessons, Rachel took piano, dancing, gymnastics - training that has given her an understanding of the commitment to hard work so necessary to achieve her goals. In addition, she has acquired the confidence and poise that puts her at ease in any situation.
She's been on stage in plays, operas, recitals, has sung before sporting events and was recently afforded the honor of singing the National Anthem at her high school graduation.
The single-minded dedication has paid off for this lovely and gifted young woman. In the fall, Rachel will be attending the prestigious Frost School of Music at the University of Miami, thanks to school's highly prized vocal music scholarship.
Rachel's unwavering focus on her goals has given this exceptional young woman a future filled with endless possibilities.
Unlike her great-aunt, Lynn, Rachel accepted the gift God gave her of an extraordinary voice and has devoted herself to perfecting it in order to share it with the world.