Friday, January 15, 2010

Sisters Forever

Even now, it's hard to write about my sister, Jackie, who has lately taken up residence in Heaven, without speaking about my other two sisters. That's the way it's always been. Each rejoiced in the happiness and blessings of the other, and shared in the sorrows, as well. I think I especially appreciated this because I was the "Johnny-come-lately," being born 13, 10, and 8 years later, respectively. At first, as my sister, Patty, eight years older than I, remembers it, she was dismayed when she came home from Fresh Air Camp (that's another story) and found our mother "great with child." I suppose she thought four (we had a brother, too) was quite enough. But it turned out well, especially for me, since the "baby" has been "babied" by them all for some sixty-six years.

You will hear lots of complimentary adjectives to describe Jackie: classy, beautiful, fashionable, sweet, kind, compassionate, loving, and funny, to name a few. To these obvious ones I would add: guileless, forgiving, and resilient. She possessed a frank, but benevolent, honesty that was not judgmental, but was exact. She always took God's side when it came to sin, but never set herself up as judge and jury, whether it was family or friends. She could be hurt, and she was; but if she ever held a grudge, I never saw it.  She knew heartache and disappointment early, losing her only son many years ago in a car wreck, while he served in the Armed Forces in Germany.

She followed her husband to Bible School, with their three children (Debbie, Dusty, and Roz), then later, in two or three pastorates. When he felt it was God's will for them to return to Ohio and for him to work for the Post Office, well that was fine, too. She and Harold have been at home now at Grace Baptist Church in Middletown for many years, under three different pastors. She sang in the choir all those years.

There were two more children, a bright-eyed pixie named Jessica, who would much later succumb to muscular dystrophy, and a lively red-haired girl, they named Rachel. Harold and Jackie took care of Jessica for over forty years, and during those final scary days of her life, she and Jackie became more than mother and daughter. When the Lord finally took her to Himself, some of Jackie's spontaneity was gone. Her husband and three daughters attest to this. The sweetness was still there, but it was tinged with sadness; and when we lost our beloved brother, Billy, later on, it only added to the pain. As she said to me, "I cry more easily and over little things."

I liked it much better when my sisters and I were a quartet—Jackie, Patty, Martha Lou, and Salle Jo. The harmony was richer. We're a trio now, but the song is still there. Nothing changes that. You see, we're sisters because we were born of the same parents, but we're also sisters because we were Born Again of the same God—the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. The cord that binds us together is a double one, both physical and spiritual.

I love my sisters, as I love my brother; and I miss them, whether they are a thousand miles away, or sharing in the glories of Heaven. We sisters were together this past November. We laughed together and prayed together. The next time, we'll worship the Lamb together. And our brother, mother, and father, who went before, will join us in praise.

But today, in my mind's eye, I only see someone running—yes, running—to meet her mother in Heaven...

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