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.