If behavioral data for all people across all ages could ever be gathered – I think it would show that the most good was done by eldest daughters from large Catholic families.

If they were all honored at once, few would like the attention, wondering why the fuss. A leader of this reluctant parade, doubtless on a Mardi Gras float wearing green, gold and purple beads, would be my sister-in-law, Cathy Scheid. She would be having lots of fun, and throwing all her beads out to the crowd.

Cathy has a large heart and a cheerful, adventurous spirit. When I first met her I wondered if she was the real deal. Could anyone truly be that happy, that enthusiastic, that expressive? As it turns out, yes. I’ve known her twenty eight years and she has been a delight throughout.

In her contagious spirit of celebration and generosity, she’s taken siblings, parents, neices and nephews on countless trips, many to New Orleans for Jazz Fest or Mardi Gras. The city’s persistent joyfulness in all circumstances is a metaphor for her personality. When I hear good jazz or drink from a Cafe du Monde cup, I think of Cathy. I also think of Cathy when I see a picture of a moose, because of our fabulous Alaska trip. And I think of her when I see sea turtles….you get the idea.

I cannot count how many times she has hosted our family for visits and holidays in Chicago. She lives simply, but bought a three level condo so her siblings and their families could visit at any time. She also shares her ‘little piece of paradise,” a wonderful place in Florida, when family needs to get away.

Her care has extended beyond family to the thousands of middle school students she has taught over the years, hundreds of fellow teachers she has supported, and everyone she has led on educational tours throughout the country and overseas.

Our lives are larger and richer and more full of beauty because of Cathy. She can never be repaid.