I wish I had a picture of her, however let me draw you a visual picture of her. She had honey blonde hair, even at this phase of her life, and let me assure you it was natural. She wasn't very tall, we looked like polar opposites in this. She was muscular, and had the most soul searching intense eyes. She was BEAUTIFUL to me!
Today is my birthday. Another year has came and went, and I am so thankful for every year of life I have had with my family and friends. I know I know.....we have all heard this before, but I don't think I could mean it anymore than I do today. You see, today is a funeral for a dear sister in our church. So today, rather than sharing what I will be doing to celebrate another birthday, I would like to share with you how this one woman made me a better person, and this birthday a better birthday.
Her name is/was Elaine. This dear sister, who was my mother's age, took me in and under her wing when I first moved to Washington. The first time I saw her was at my sister's house. She walked in, saw me, grabbed my hand, and began to tear up. I was shocked by this wave of unsolicited emotion, and a wee bit stunned. What had I done to cause this poor sweet sister to cry? She began to tell me that when she looked into my face she saw my Dad, my Mom, and her best friend(who had passed on), my Aunt Lois. She shared with me all the reasons she loved each of them, and how I represented those beautiful things and people to her. Well to be honest, I was overwhelmed and I thought she surely must be exaggerating. I guess I wasn't truly convinced. However, EVERY single time I saw her she would gush the same way. This continued on for many months, and I saw her on a regular weekly basis.
I remember standing in her large garden, outside her home, in the rich dark soil, and listening to her motherly wisdom about children, God, and life. She was healthy, and full of life. I thought she would, truly, live for a long time. She had the most organic way about her.
A couple of years later, she fell ill to uterine cancer. This thing ravaged her. It took this, once strong female, and bent her to it's dark ugly will. It was scary and heartless. There were many days that she was too ill to care for herself, and the sisters from our church would take turns sitting and caring for her. She deserved every moment of our time, for she was one of the most giving and selfless women I will probably ever know. I am grateful to the many times I sat beside her, and held her hand. Through those quiet moments we, honestly, shared how much and why we loved each other. I felt like one of her own. I even sang hymns to her, by her request. What a gift, to me, to be a part of her life, and even her death.
The day after we left to head for Oregon we received a call, from some of the brethren, sharing with us that she was worse again, and to remember her in our prayers. A little over a week later she passed from this world into a FAR better place. She was ready to go after a three year battle with cancer, but it is always hard to say goodbye. She left behind 7 children, the youngest being 12 and the oldest my age. She was sad to say goodbye, and we were sorrowful too.
So today is her funeral. I cannot attend. Den and I were asked to sing at it, but since the time frame was such short notice, and 7 hours away, we could not make it. However, today I will remember who she has been to me. What she brought to my life. That even though they will lay her into the same rich soil, that she loved to till with her hands, on my birthday, its a great day to remember the first time she ever grabbed my hands, with tears in her eyes, and said I love you. She said, "Noooo....look at me....I REALLY love you, and I want you to know that."
Well....She finally convinced me.
Goodbye Sis. Elaine, I'll see you over Jordan some sweet day........