Friday, 01 July 2016 08:25

The Godly Influence of Siblings

Written by  Nancy Thomas
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Today, I am thinking about my sister, Carol, who died after a courageous battle with cancer April 8.  More than 80 of her fellow choir members of Riverchase United Methodist Church lovingly sang in celebration of her life. She was a member for 22 years.

 

Carol taught me many things during my childhood; the difference between my right and my left hand, how to water ski, dive in the pool, ride a bike, drive a stick shift, the symbolism of 2001 Space Odyssey and probably many other things I have forgotten but she would remember. 

 

Carol was part of the Jesus Movement in the late 1960s and 1970s and took me to Church with her because of my mother’s illness and death when I was 15.  She patiently explained the baptism of the Holy Spirit, spiritual gifts, the rapture and the communion of saints to me.  She showed her faith quietly. Her favorite verse was Matthew 5:16:

       

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

 

When I was in 9th grade, I was at a luncheon with friends, celebrating junior high graduation.  I became ill and was stranded in the restroom until someone came looking for me.  Thankfully, Carol rescued me, but she had to endure the 10 minute drive home with my head hanging out the window to avoid making a mess in the car.  When I think how most teenagers would be humiliated by that, I see her rescue of me as downright saintly.

 

Once while moving my son into his college dorm, a woman sat outside in a lawn chair reading.  As we unpacked, my daughter said the woman reminded her of Aunt Carol because she loved to read.  I remember feeling defensive in my response saying, “Except Aunt Carol would be in the middle of all of this helping us!”  But that was the truth.

 

Carol was a force of nature, as determined a human being as I have ever known. I can’t remember ever seeing her anxious or overwhelmed, even in times of difficulty.  The most challenging time was when she and her family barely escaped their burning home while they were asleep.  She managed every challenge with grace and strength.

 

Carol was brave and loving enough to confront her in-laws about their drinking when her children were little.  They became sober, devoted grandparents and active members of AA.  As her son saw it, Carol saved his grandparents’ lives and his by caring enough to intervene.  She was his hero.

 

She was incredibly loyal to family, being the first to arrive at any family occasion and the last to leave.  Carol was my father’s eager assistant on his many building projects as a child and later as an adult.  She was at Dad’s side frequently during his declining years just being a comfort to him and sharing memories. 

 

When she was first diagnosed with cancer, her son tattooed “Mom” on his arm. Later when she lost her hair, he shaved his head in support and posted a picture of the two of them together on Facebook.  She was not one to complain, criticize others, or ask anyone to do anything for her.  She is remembered as being content, wanting only a little peace and quiet so she could read from time to time.

 

She continued to display the peace that passes all understanding during her illness, treatments and finally while she was at home on hospice.  She died surrounded by the love of her husband, sons, siblings, sister and brother-in-law and grandchildren.  I miss her remarkable memory for every detail of our lives, her steadfastness, loyalty, character and faith. 

 

At the end of the service, the choir sang a beautiful anthem by Joseph M. Martin about being “surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, looking on, encouraging us to do the will of the Lord!” Carol was my witness all of my life, encouraging me, showing the love and grace of Jesus in every day interactions.  She displayed the steady, loyal, peaceful, patient, loving spirit of acceptance we all desire that can come only from the Holy Spirit. 

 

What a wonderful gift she shared.  I feel like I am standing on the shoulders of a giant.  Well done faithful servant; you have stars in your crown for your magnificent legacy. 

 

What are your gifts to share? Are you leaving a legacy to those around you?

 

 

Last modified on Friday, 01 July 2016 08:52
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