Saturday, November 9, 2013

“Sisters could do a great deal for their brothers, if they would.” ― Isabella Macdonald Alden

Today is my sister's birthday.  Today, she qualifies for Medicare, but I remember her coming home from the hospital in my mother's arms to a small house in Dallas in 1948.  She was brought in a purple ambulance which has remained her favorite color.  She was the only girl surrounded by three brothers (see picture taken five years ago with my mother as well).  I'd like to say she was loved and adored by her brothers, but we tormented her and teased her.  Now, she is loved and adored by her brothers.  It just took us a long time to grow up and to learn how wonderful she has really always been.  As to the quote above, she has done such a service for us by taking care of our parents in the last years that we could never repay her, but we have learned to respect and care for her.  My mother named her "Penelope" but she changed it legally to just "Penny" quite some years ago, and I applauded her resolve to do that because she has always been Penny to us.  If there was a mirror of morality and virtue for her brothers, she was just such a mirror as we got older.  We all had, Penny included, wilder years, but she adjusted with more grace and ease than the rest of us did.  We've never been much for hugging and physical expressions of love (thanks to Mom and Dad), but we have learned to show her our love in ways that I hope she recognizes.  Joe, my older brother, would drive to Heber Springs from Fayetteville (about four hours) whenever she would need a break or to help her with things.  Joe's wife, Mary Jane, was, after Penny, Mom' s most frequent visitor in her last years in the home.  Rob, Penny's younger brother, will drive over from Memphis just as frequently to help her with computer things and to be there for her, something I could not do from equatorial Africa where it takes almost four days just to get there and is very expensive.  Penny, in my mind, is a saint, giving up her good job in Houston to move to a small, rural town to take care of my parents for many more years than I think she thought would be involved, and my father was not always grateful for her help, but she persevered where I would have left quickly.  In her honor, we have named the preschool at the Methodist church in the village of Karikakari, "St. Penny's" and Karen has designed the uniforms using her favorite color, purple, in the Tanzanian cloth we found.  This year, I thought for once I would surprise her, not only for remembering her birthday, but for sending a gift that would get there ahead of her birthday.  What I didn't know was she wouldn't be there, having wisely gone elsewhere to be with friends for her big day.  So my gift, dutifully delivered by is sitting on her front porch.  Maybe next year, I will get it right.  I love my sister and she has a part of my heart forever.  I hope she has a wonderful birthday and has a good time with her friends.  I was a little down this morning and then realized I was missing her.  This is one brother who was lucky enough to have a sister that has blessed my life.  We pray for her every day, as do the kids at St. Penny's.  God bless you, Sis.
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