This past week I lost my younger sister. Her death was not expected—in fact it probably shouldn’t have happened. She’d been to her physician for treatment of an acute case of bronchitis and had come home with prescriptions to help her heal. She never got to take them. Her husband returned from the pharmacy with the antibiotics to find her on the floor. All attempts to revive her failed.
She was child number three in my parent’s quiver of kids. She was the “oops” child that Mom and Dad hadn’t planned, but treasured her as a welcome addition to our family. She had an honesty about her that colored everything she said. Often some of her insights into politics, world events, and everyday occurrences would make an inmate blush. She had a way of seeing things through laughter-focused glasses. I always felt better after talking with her on the phone.
Our early years were spent on a small acreage on the outskirts of Springfield, Oregon. We rode stick ponies all over the backyard, gathered eggs from the poultry barn our parents owned, and played with the assortment of animals our family kept—rabbits, dogs, cats, and chinchillas.
When our parents surprised us with a real horse one summer, we took turns riding her. Since all of the siblings liked the horse, Mom and Dad bought my grandparents’ farm so we each could have our own animal. That meant we shared the responsibilities of cleaning out the barn, feeding, and exercising the horses. We showed in 4-H. We grew into responsible adults.
That’s when our lives parted. My sister worked as clerical staff for the school district. I reared two children, homeschooling them from kindergarten. Our time together became remembrances at birthdays and Christmas, coupled with an occasional shared meal. Still that ever present gift of laughter pervaded our brief encounters. Though I didn’t see her often, I always knew she was there.
Now she’s gone. As if whisked away by some unseen force. I know life is not certain, that we aren’t promised tomorrow. I’m glad we had the relationship we shared. But the hardest part is I didn’t get to say goodbye.
John 14:27 (NIV) Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
Hug your loved ones often because you never know. . .
In Memory of
Joyce Christine Mathews
September 23, 1952-July 1, 2018