“Sweet Girl”

Today is the birthday of my late sister Patsy. I love the picture above taken when she was 14 and my grandfather was 77 in 1967. They are outside of my grandparents’ farm in western New York. My grandfather, despite the summer weather, is dressed as always as if ready to chair his academic department. My sister is listening attentively to him as he lovingly rests his hand on her arm.

They shared a kind spirit. In that way my sister stood out among the four of us. She also had the only black hair and brown eyes; we other three had blue eyes and light brown hair. She was the tallest girl, too, passing me by at least four inches. Since we were six years apart I didn’t know her well as a child. Sadly we were assigned labels growing up, and I was “smart” and she was “pretty.” Only when I was an adult did I realize that she was brilliant and handled challenging job responsibilities at a large health organization as well as completing Master’s degree work in nursing and public health.

She hated hearing that she “fought” cancer three times. She liked to say that with God’s gracious help she lived for 12 years with the disease. She died at peace in her sleep. With her went a gentleness and kindness I can only hope to incorporate more fully into my ordinary life.

33 thoughts on ““Sweet Girl”

  1. As you know, I understand your sentiment so well. We were labeled in our family, too. It is something I do not understand having been a parent myself. I love the photo of Patsy and your grandfather. Losing a sister is such a difficult path – especially if there was a shared closeness. I hope your day is filled with beloved and happy memories. ❤️

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  2. I was able to link to your previous posts about Patsy and it is lovely to read about her. My losing my big sister is what started me blogging and, as we shared a birthday, we had an extra special bond even though we lived 8,300 miles apart! It is lovely to remember all the good times.

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  3. Beautiful words and touching sentiments, Elizabeth. Naturally, you didn’t know each other as well since you were six years apart. I’m curious what branch of academia your grandfather was in.

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    1. My grandfather had a PhD in sociology and a Divinity degree. He ran the School of Social Work at the University of Buffalo when it was still an independent college.

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  4. This is a lovely tribute to your sister. What a wonderful attitude and outlook she had toward living with cancer. I once read a phrase that stuck with me: Life with cancer is still life. It sounds like your sister understood this and lived to the fullest.

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