Jackie Gingrich Cushman

When I was young, I thought that I knew everything. The older I have grown, the more I have begun to understand how little I know. As a young, determined, hardworking financial consultant in the late 1980s and early 1990s, life seemed rather simple: Work hard, get ahead. As a consultant at BDO Seidman, where I began working while in graduate school at Georgia State University, the hours were long, but my future seemed bright.

Arriving before the sun was up, my work often lasted until late at night, and more often than not, through the weekend. Once I earned my MBA in finance, I set off on my next accomplishment, earning the Chartered Financial Analyst designation. Perseverance and determination worked once again.

It was during this time, just out of graduate school, working long hours and focusing on achievement, that I did the unthinkable (at least in my family) -- I forgot my sister's birthday.

To understand how horrible my forgetfulness was, it helps to understand how important birthdays are in my family. Growing up, it was a full-day event -- presents at the breakfast table, songs being sung and a special dinner cooked for you. It was the one day that you received undivided attention. It was the one day that was your day.

So now you know how terrible it was that I forgot my sister's birthday.

One of the best side benefits of our father, Newt Gingrich, running for president has been the time that we have been able to spend together during the campaign, talking on the phone, traveling together, sharing hotel rooms, even doing TV interviews together. It's reminded me of how special she is, how lucky I am to have a sister that loves me and cares for me.

Plus, it's reminded me that she's just plain fun!

Over two decades ago, while working until after 2 a.m., I realized while reviewing a report for the last time, that I had forgotten her birthday. As I flipped through the page of the report that had to go out that night, I recognized that the date was more that just a date, it was my sister's birthday, and I had missed it.

I felt terrible. Caught up in work, forgetting my priorities.

As a mother of two children, I see from a different perspective how special and wonderful sibling relationships can be. While our oldest child loves her brother, it seems to me that our younger child not only loves his sister but also cannot imagine what life would like without her. All his life she has been there -- she is constant, she is immovable, she provides stability.

So it is with me.

Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.