Monthly Archives: July 2014

Sibling Reunion

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The four of us live in four different states … and one of us lives 3,000 miles from the other three.  So, getting us together is no small feat!  But, we generally make valiant efforts to have a little reunion every couple years and this past week was no exception.  The last two left this morning before I awoke.  We said our good-byes last night and I had to leave the room before I began crying.  Hate good-byes!  Fortunately, we do stay close via technology.  I know our dad was glad to have his three daughters and son together again.

The party was at my house so each night we brought my dad over and we enjoyed my brother’s cooking.  Last night dinner was on me and I cooked chicken tenders, mashed potatoes, green beans and left over garlic bread.  Yum!  We made “Dream Cake” the other night with angel food cake, cream cheese and cherry topping, just like our mom used to make.  Ah, memories!

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We took a quick trip down to the cemetery where our mom is buried and visited some cousins who live nearby.  That was an exhausting but fun trip!  Let’s just say some of us siblings like to get up earlier than others …

We came across some old letters at our dad’s house, some that our mom had written to my brother when he was in boot camp way back in 1981, some I’d written also.  We all enjoyed reading those and made copies so we’d each have those to cherish.  Mom’s letters were filled with family news.  My older sister was soon to be married, my younger sister was a straight A student and then, there was me…Well, she’s not doing quite as well.  Haha.  But I was excited about my upcoming 12th birthday slumber party!  Yup, that was me — Social Butterfly!  I had certain priorities, okay?!

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The last week was filled with almost nightly Scrabble games, lots of laughter, sharing family updates, teasing, cooking, eating, passing the M&M’s and photo sessions … That’s about the gist of the last week!  We are each so unique and I always thought of us as being so different.  How did we wind up in the same family, born to the same set of parents?  But, this time together, I could see how similar we are too.  We each are stubborn – that is pretty common knowledge.  But, we each are neatniks and have fairly Type A personalities.  I’d like to think of us all as being highly intelligent too.  The most satisfying and gratifying common trait we share is that we each have our sights on heaven and a strong relationship with our Heavenly Father.  That is what matters most.  We wouldn’t want the party to end here on earth afterall!  No, we want to spend eternity together and join our mother and other loved ones in heaven!

Love my siblings!

 

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We Said “Good-bye For Now”

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My aunt’s health had been steadily failing over the last several years, but she made it four days past her 84th birthday before graduating to heaven.  She was my mother’s older sister by ten years.  Her husband passed away thirty years ago.  They had seven children and loads of grand, great and great-great grandchildren.  Her life was full and despite facing many tremendous obstacles, she persevered.  Due to an eye disease, she began going blind over forty years ago.  She lived independently in her own home up to the very end.

If her life was consolidated into the title of a book, I’d have to entitle it Tenacity, for she never gave up!  Her faith in God was the source of the great hope she clung to.  Psalm 23 was her favorite passage of the Bible.  It’s mine too.

As the family gathered at the funeral home for the private viewing, a slideshow of old pictures was running.  There were many special ones, particularly those that included my mother many years ago.  You see, my mother has been gone for 21 years now and I miss her bright smile and enveloping hugs.  It seems like a lifetime ago since I heard her joyful laughter.  Oh, what a reunion we will have one day …

As my aunt lie in the teal coffin with gold seashell adornment, I was struck by the fact that she looked nothing like herself.  But we know that the flesh we wear on this earth is temporary anyway.  For now, she has entered into her rest.

So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.  O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?  The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”  ~ I Corinthians 15

The small Methodist church was packed with friends and family to say good-bye one last time this side of glory.  She would’ve been so glad to see such a nice gathering and so many beautiful floral arrangements.  Some had a ribbon across with the word – “Mother” or “Grandmother”, one was a floral arrangement of an open Bible with “Psalm 23” on a ribbon.  Clearly, she meant a great deal to many.

The minister shared a number of Scriptures and words of comfort, a great solace to all of us, in a quiet cadence.  We sang two hymns.  One, I must admit, I’d never heard of before – “Lord, Build Me a Cabin in Glory” and “I’ll Fly Away”.  I held it together through most of the funeral service, but when the organist played “Amazing Grace” at the end as we were leaving, I thought I would come undone.

My sister and I rode with one of our cousins to the cemetery for the interment.  The minister’s remarks and prayer again were very peaceful and I so appreciated the Scriptures he read.  There’s nothing like the calm of the Word of God.  Friends extended their condolences to the immediate family and, slowly, most of the crowd dissipated.  My sister and I walked around to see if we spotted the floral arrangement our family sent when I really thought I’d lose it then!  The trappings and overlay of the casket, etc. were spread over top of part of my mother’s grave, but the part that struck me was the large stake that was holding up the green funeral canopy.  The large stake was directly over top of my mother’s grave and it just seemed disrespectful and a very upsetting visual.  Their graves are side by side in a family plot.  There was not much that could’ve been done to ease the situation, perhaps.  I’m sure not a lot of thought went into the placement of the stake, but it was incredibly difficult for me to see.

Another cousin handed my sister and I a red rose from the casket spray as a keepsake, which was very nice.  The casket spray was huge with red and white roses and greenery, just lovely.  My aunt lived on an island most of her life, thus the seashell embellishment on the teal casket.  Very fitting and beautiful.

Throughout the day, my sister and I had the opportunity to speak with a number of cousins and catch up a little with them.  Some we hadn’t seen for many years.  I always appreciate when some of our older cousins share old stories of our mother.  It’s nice that they not only have such fond memories of her, but care enough to share them with us as well.  Since my mother was the baby of her family, her nieces and nephews were somewhat close in age to her.

There’s nothing like family.  Cherish those around you, for life travels at the speed of light the older one gets, it seems.  We can mistakenly think things will always remain the same, and then we blink, and realize how much has changed.

Reach out to distant family members.  Hug those kids.  Tell everyone you love them.  That God loves them.  That’s the stuff life is made up of.

There’s enough negativity and junk this world offers up.  We can focus on that or we can set our sights on the things that truly matter.  Like the bumper sticker says, “The most important things in life aren’t things at all.”  True enough.  It’s all about people, people who God has placed in our lives as family or friends.  We tend to take so much for granted when nothing is guaranteed.

Hug a little tighter.  Laugh louder.  Dance in the street.  Call an old friend.

Life is all about the little things.  For, in the end, they’re really the BIG things.

 

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