Friday, March 19, 2010

In remembrance...(PKW)

Today is the two year anniversary of my youngest sisters death.

Consider yourself warned that this is a sad post and that you might need a kleenex. If you're a new readers here that's what the PKW means...possible kleenex warning. I've heard from quite a few readers that they came to my blog expecting to find funny...and instead found sad...tears were the result in inappropriate places...thus the warning.

My sister died after 31 years of illness and this is the eulogy I wrote for her. I delivered it twice. Once in a church here in Arizona and again when her ashes were interred in Ohio. We stood atop a hill surrounded by friends and green trees and a lovely sky sprinkled with clouds and I said these words for a second time.

Before I hit the "PUBLISH POST" button I thought about disabling comments here because, really, what is there to say other then "I'm sorry"? And I know you all are...you are all lovely, kind-hearted, compassionate people.

But I will leave the comment button on because the interaction with you during all my silly posts and sad posts have given me so much joy.

And I like the feeling that we are all connected...by nothing more then words on a screen.

You are all my community and so I want to thank you for sharing this moment with me on this sad day.

Hugs,
Jenny

Right after Liz died I was having a conversation with our Mom. Mom talked a lot about remembrances but then she said something that really stuck with me. She said that ever since Liz was a small child she was always so accepting and since that day I have thought about that comment a lot.

It seems that acceptance is not something very many people have whether it is the acceptance of rules and authority or the acceptance we have of the twists and turns our lives take. We cry. We get angry. We feel sorry for ourselves. And truly that is something that Liz never did.

I wonder if God granted Liz a special gift at birth knowing how her life would play out. If so, there is indeed a compassionate God.

As a small child Liz listened to what our parents said as gospel. There was no gray area. No cookies meant no cookies. The rest of us girls were pretty good about trying to find a loophole so that we could get what WE wanted but to Liz - no was no. Yes was yes. Don't was don't. Acceptance of what Dad and Mom said became part of who Liz was.

As she got a bit older and started school and Catholic Studies, Liz added her teachers and strong religious beliefs to what defined her life. Acceptance of this knowledge and religion also became part of who Liz was.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not saying Liz was mindless and a robot. She could be horribly stubborn and she wasn't always an angel. Sssshhhh... don't tell my Mom but she did cheat sometimes at games and was known to make mean faces on occasion. But I think what I'm trying to say is that Liz accepted that there were forces more powerful then her. There was a sweetness in her and a lack of rebelliousness along with a sense of joy and creativity that spilled over into all aspects of her young life.

Liz loved making things, drawing, playing outside, running … all the active things that are the definition of a creative, happy childhood. Nothing seemed unusual at all until she got into high school and then we all noticed that she began to walk funny. Kids gave her a rough time and made fun of her but it didn't seem to effect her. She had her piano and her sisters and her parents and her art and her religious reading and her schoolwork… if walking was a bit difficult it was just something to accept…. So she did.

As her walking continued to worsen our parents dragged her to many doctors in many hospitals for many tests. If the tests were painful and if she had to use a wheelchair more frequently it was just something to accept…. So she did.

High School graduation came and went and she got a car and started to college but her disease continued to progress and she became unable to drive and continue school, so the car was sold and she began to stay home more and more. If she resented the loss of these freedoms she never showed it. It was just another thing to accept. So she did.

Her time at home was still filled with piano and religious readings and unbelievable needlework. So many creative hobbies interested her…. Sewing dolls, cutting intricate snowflakes, making holiday decorations. She also began traveling with our parents and loved to see new things. She seemed happy with her life.

As the disease began spreading into her hands, though, one by one the hobbies began to be put away. If she was angered by the loss of playing the piano or sewing or doing her needlework she never showed it. It was just more loss to accept. So she did.

And when I say she accepted these losses I mean she accepted them with grace and courage. True and genuine acceptance with no remorse, regrets or anger.

More losses. The ability to do the most basic of self-care became impossible. Our parents continued to care for her at home as she became bedridden and she continued to be positive with a big, radiant smile often on her face. Our parents were finally faced with the difficult decision of placing her into a nursing home because her care had become too great for them to administer. If Liz was angered or fearful about this major change she never showed it. It was just another change in her life to accept. So she did.

In her final years simple things could merit a big,radiant smile in return. A snack that wasn't institution food. A pair of socks the right color of green. A reading of one of her favorite poems. Looking at magazines. But life had not yet finished creating changes for Liz and as her disease robbed her of more and more of her faculties these joys became harder to provide. But she accepted all this yet again.

During Liz's last few days one of the hospice nurses said that she believes that at the end everyone takes a final inventory of their life…. She called it book-keeping. She said she believes that we take out our memories and look at them and find acceptance for our lives and that we are then free to go.

Throughout the final days the family kept careful watch over Liz in her sedated sleep. I was there often and while I was I watched her face carefully. I often saw her smile and appear to be talking but I only saw her cry once. Once. Out of all the loss and pain and suffering that she had experienced in her too short life her final "book-keeping" was almost total joy.

I believe that Liz is in Heaven. I truly believe this. I think she is running and riding her bike and doing celestial needlework and planting pansies and eating spumoni ice cream and drinking a big glass of icy coke. I can just see her happy smile in my mind. In her later years as communication left her she was often unable to finish this simple sentence…. "I want…. I want….I want…." She would say over and over again in frustration… Liz doesn't "want" anything anymore. She has everything she has ever wanted or needed.

And I accept that.

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75 comments:

Lanie said...

No words... there aren't any to ease your pain. Thank you for sharing. This was a very sweet post and reminded me of my Mama and where she is now that the pain is gone. Thank you. ~Lanie

Aunt Amelia's Attic said...

Gentle hugs, Dear One...

Andrea said...

Jenny, my thoughts are with you on this sad day. I too, believe that heaven is what you want it to be. So I think you are right. Your sister has received her healing and she is enjoying all of the things she loved here on earth and I am sure so much more. That is surely from where we draw our comfort.

MrsJenB said...

Oh, Jenny. "I'm sorry" doesn't cut it. But I am. This is a beautiful tribute to your beautiful sister. My thoughts are with you today.

Ellen said...

May today find you comforted in the lovely memories and strengthened by your sister's strength. Never hear that about "book keeping". But to look back on my Grandparents last days in hospice, you are so right! That is what I witnessed too. I am happy to know those smiles were of good memories! Thank you for sharing even though it's a rough day.

Linda said...

Thank you Jenny! Thank you for loving your sister! Thank you for sharing her with us! Thank you for your faith! Thank you for letting us feel this with you and for just being you!

Vicki said...

You were blessed with her...we are blessed with you. Maybe Liz and Lori are up there talking about us...
My thoughts are with you my special friend.

ritad said...

Jenny,
I have a son who suffered through a lifetime with a terrible disease, you may have heard of Huntington's Disease. It was a terrible disease to live with for both of us. I do believe when One was this type of life to live that they are given a "blessing of the disease" Rodney became so accepting of all the things that came his way is his 40 years, things that made everyone else think, HOW can he endure this. Yes there is a Blessing on these people, and thank goodness that blessing is with them.

Steph said...

You're right.... There are no words to say.... So why am I writing here? Because I am deeply touched by the way your precious sister Liz lived her life. One of my favorite books is "Hinds Feet on High Places." And though there are many allegories within, one of them that stands out for me is the little flower "Acceptance-with-Joy." My heart is not so much this way; so your sister's beautiful, creative life speaks to me and I know is carried on in you by the way you closed her eulogy. I'm sorry you have to miss her. I'm glad for the things you mentioned that are true of her eternal life. xoxo

Kass said...

So beautiful. Thank you for sharing the lesson Liz's life was.

Rocky Mountain Woman said...

Hang in there sweetie! Anniversaries are the hardest..I've lost a son and a husband. Acceptance for me has been harder than for some others, but I keep on trying.

Thanks for your beautiful post. It helps..
xxoo
RMW

laterg8r said...

it's hard to be accepting all the time - definitely a life lesson.

liquid pearls - glue like substance that glitters subtly like pearls. goes on wet and dries in whatever shape you make it. i used it to make the dots on my page :D

Freely Living Life said...

Liz is in a beautiful place watching over you each and every day. It's so important to keep the ones we have lost close to our hearts. <3 Sending you hugs! :)

jaydubblah said...

I think you can take extra comfort from the fact that you and your sister will have spoken to a lot of people today, and helped them with a problem in their own lives or given some comfort in some way that you may never know about. God often gives us seeds to plant but does not often gives us the privilege of seeing the plant that grows from it. I think this post is one of those seeds

Kim said...

what a beautiful eulogy. My heart goes out to you today Jenny♥

Mami said...

Oh dear,
It reminds me about mum and our family had faced with harder situation than ever. Because my lovely mum was very serious illness. She was attacked by cancer. we were taking care and nursing for her as possible as we could at home. Of course doctor came over to see her once a week and whenever she needed to care.  But her condition itself was getting worse day by day. She needed much more medical care and therapy at hospice.
We could not accept anyting which occured to mum and us.
My doctor told me 'The Serenity Prayer'from Bible.
We had no ways but acceptions.

Patty said...

I ask blessing and comfort from God to you this day. Wonderful lesson on acceptance.

Bumpkin on a Swing said...

This post has been printed and will kept in my dearest of dearest. I think we all need to do some book-keeping.

Viki said...

What a beautiful eulogy/tribute to your sister. We can only aspire to be the way she was. I'm sure she is smiling down on you for posting this.

Busy Bee Suz said...

This is beautiful. We all can learn from Liz. Acceptance is part of life.
Hugs to you Jenny!

Jocelyn said...

What a beautiful tribute....what a beautiful sister...thank you for sharing her with us!!!! She is an inspiration to all of us!!!

Nezzy said...

My hear goes out for you that you had to give up Liz at such a young age but it sounds like her life here on earth was remarkable, just the way God had planned. Today I'm sure Liz is sendin' ya big old angel hugs and kisses.

God bless you today and give you sweet, sweet peace.

Sh@KiR@ CK said...

My dearest Jenny,

What a heart warming and befitting tribute for a soul so beautiful as your sister, Liz. Elizabeth what a strong beautiful name.

Bless are we, reading this and getting to know Liz and most of all, YOU. Jenny, YOU are a truly beautiful and joyful person. I am not even surprised that Liz was the way she was , surrounded by LOVE like yours and your family. I am sure Liz was strong because of you all. She was accepting because YOU gave her that GIFT to be able to. For NO MATTER WHAT, you and your family loved and cherished her , only more. So, I hope you take some comfort in that Liz was the way she was as she was able to share both her joy and sorrow with you. It is so amazing what unconditional love can do. GOD NEVER FAILS , HE NEVER LEAVES and HE KNOWS BEST.

My own Dad passed away at 42. I am 44 now and I live each day with the full blessings that I outlived him. He was such a good man.

Find CLOSURE and JOY in Liz's BLESSINGS and her TRIUMPHS as BOTH of YOU DESERVE and EARNED that, my dearest.

Take time to share her memories , you have not lost her , HEAVEN needed her and ANGELS do not die, they just transformed.

hugs
shakira

mrs. c said...

Thank you for sharing your heart with us today. Liz is still showing us true acceptance and love and makes me realize that I should be so thankful for all that I have. Thank you again for sharing, dear friend.

Kelly Howard said...

Thank you for sharing the treasured memories of your sister with us! What a special person she was and you are too for having the courage to write this beautiful praise of her! I am so glad our paths crossed!

mub said...

I appreciate you posting this. It really touched my heart.

Wanda said...

Thank you for the lovely reminder...to be accepting in our lives, Jenny!

Terry said...

Acceptance is everything in life. Your sister was blessed to have that gift.

Megan said...

Yet again in my life...I feel as though no words are sufficient for your sadness.

However, in regards to your sister...it sounds like she can be a shining example to all of us. To accept the LITTLE inconveniences in our lives and continue on in this world with happiness.

Blesings to you and your family!

http://reddirtandcrazy.blogspot.com/

Patti said...

Jenny: You and Liz have made me stop and think about a few things today........
you certainly know how to make a girl blubber.........and laugh!!

Betty (picture circa 1951) said...

What a beautiful tribute.

I detest those diseases that take so much of a person's life away before they're gone. She is resting peacefully in a much better place.

Country Dreaming said...

Love and prayers sent you way.
Sounds like your sister had something that I bet most of us wish we had. Acceptance is a hard pill to swallow for most. All of us deal with things in a different way but it sounds like your sisiter managed in a most gracious way.
Blessing to you.

Melinda

MommyLovesStilettos said...

WOW. Sounds like your sister was a pretty incredible woman :)

I think many many people could benefit from reading this. Myself included.

Theresa said...

Oh Jenny, what a beautiful Sister you were to each other! Couldn't we all learn so much from this precious, kind-hearted, strong woman. Love to you and I know that you are so happy you shared these days with her. Just as you were fortunate to have her in your lives, she was so fortunate to have such a caring family... it sounds like she knew it and loved the short life she had! Hugs to you my dear Friend!

Ms Sparrow said...

The loss of a loved one lingers forever in our hearts. This was a beautiful tribute to your dear sister.

Just Add Walter said...

what a beautiful concept about "book-keeping" --I know I will remember this forever. I have no doubt she is in Heaven and looking down on you. Thanks for sharing your (her) story with us. My thoughts are with you today!

Flat Creek Farm said...

Thinking of you today, Jenny. What a sweet brave gal. I'm blessed to have read this today. I will hold this in my heart. Hugs, Tammy

Mumsy said...

This is a beautiful tribute to your sister, Jenny! You show her strength through your words, and how amazing she was.

I truly believe that she is in heaven too..Thanks for sharing this tender moment in your life..Hugs!

Kayren, Pink Daisy Girl said...

What a sweet remembrance of your sister, Jenny. I feel honored to be able to read it.

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Thank you for sharing Liz's life with us, Jenny. Your eulogy is a beautiful tribute to a beautiful life. She surely is in heaven!

{{{Hugs}}} Pat

Mighty M said...

Your eulogy is beautifully written and has really made me feel like I know your sister. What a special lady.

Thank you.

Red Couch Recipes said...

Jenny -- your memorable about your sister is so sweet. Your sister learned what we all need to learn -- we need to accept what we can't do anything about. The things we can do something about, we should. Just beautiful! Joni

Chatty Crone said...

I am sorry for the loss of your sister - we never truly know why these things happen - but she died a hero. My brother died in 1997 - a hero too. It felt like that day I joined a very special club that only few belonged to or understand.

Love and hugs,
sandie

Sue said...

Bless you sweetie. I agree that Liz is dancing on streets of gold in heaven ~ with an awesome bike with streamers on the handlebars!

Maggey and Jim said...

You know you have the support of all of your blog friends. I can't even imagine losing my sisters..They mean the world to me and are such a part of me.It must be such a difficult time for you but what an amazing sister you had. If only we all could be that accepting. She must have been an angel on earth.. You have my prayers..............
Maggey

Dee said...

A beautiful tribute to a beautiful sister...not gone...but gone ahead.

Quilting in My Pyjamas said...

I feel very humbled by your words today Jenny and am sending you hugs across the ether.

Only an incredibly special and amazing person could have inspired the feelings you poured into your eulogy. And only a wonderful and special person could have written them.

Your post has given me the motivation to strive to be the kind of person deserving of words like these when I'm called on to do my own book keeping.

Thank you for sharing this with all of us.

Vintage Remixed said...

Hi Jenny, I just wanted to say I'm sorry for your loss. That was a touching post. Thanks for sharing. I'm following your blog now, and I thank you for visiting mine. Hugs!

Crystal

Donna said...

A beautiful tribute to your sister.

Hugs,
Donna

sissie said...

Jenny,
What a beautiful way to remember your dear sister. As I read this I was reminded of the pain and illnesses of some of my loved ones,
and the courage that each one showed. I have learned so much from them, just as you have from your sweet sister's acceptance.

hugs
Sissie

Sweet Tea said...

I want to welcome you as a new Follower of my Blog. When I got here and saw what a sad day it was for you I actually left...but I came back. I see many of your Blog friends have left kind words for you - obviously you are loved by many. I look forward to coming here again during happier times for you. I signed on as one of your many Followers. ~Sweet Tea

Jess Herbig said...

Jenny, I believe Heaven is a wonderful alternative to this life when it's our time to go. You should be absolutely proud that your wonderful sister is helping prepare a place for all her loved ones to join her. Until then, you have managed to cement her memory into the mind of many people who may have never known her, and may now strive to be like her in some small way. Thanks for sharing.

Annesphamily said...

Jenny reading this today really touched my heart. We all go through life with our own sadness and good times with the bad. But anyone who can share such personal sadness is really just accepting that life pulls us in different directions and meeting new and exciting people to share in our life's journey. I believe everything happens for a reason and I do know Liz is laughing her green socks off with the Lord right now. Drat! I want to join them! I know Heaven is waiting for those of us who believe and who have sent our loved ones before us home. You are a poet with words and I am so honored to know you! I am going to post about Kay in Australia so watch my blog in the next few days. You might want to contact her. God Bless You, sweet friend!

RNSANE said...

Until this recent agony with my mother's heart attack and stroke, I have not really experienced much loss in my life. It has been so difficult for me, watching her deteriorate.

My heart aches for you, Jenny. It must have been especially hard to see your sister suffering and to die at such a young age. She sounds like such a brave and joyful person, in spite of everything. Surely, God was holding her close.

La Petite Gallery said...

I quess because she was so good and accepted everything, God saw to take her. My Mom was the same and with the last stage of Alzheimers I was glad to see the suffering stop, She was raised in a Convent.... I find it hard to accept things even at 73


yvonne

My name is PJ. said...

Poignant, powerful words, Matlock!

I apologize for always being a day behind reading your posts. This one should have been read by me yesterday.

I know Liz is now free from all the physical ailments that bound her. And I know she looks down at you and smiles with a radiance that far surpasses the radiance with which her earthly smiles shone. You were so blessed to have each other.

Watching disease rob a loved one bit-by-bit...for that I have no words, but I do have some understanding.

Thank you for sharing something so raw and intimate with us. It's another example of the Matlock we love.

GardenofDaisies said...

Oh Jenny, I can't imagine losing one of my sisters. What a beautiful person she was. Sending you hugs.

I have a friend with MD and I have watched the progression of her disease for 10 years. Now her sister has it too. I hope and pray that researchers will soon find a cure to these degenerative diseases that slowly take family and friends from us.

Justine said...

Oh Jenny. This eulogy was so beautiful and honored your sister so perfectly. I don't know what disease it is that stole her from you, but it sounds like she was a wonderfully brave, selfless soul. Your love for her comes through in each and every word.

Thank you so much for sharing your joy with us, and your pain. Liz would be... no, she IS so very proud of you.

Justine :o )

Bits-n-Pieces said...

Very Inspiring! We should all be so accepting.
**HUGS FOR YOU**

Julie Schuler said...

I've always felt that if heaven is going to be there for us, it shouldn't be too much different than the life we enjoy now. A poem by Borges talks about how as he was old and his eyesight was failing he took on the task of learning a new language. And he described it as the soul having a secret way of knowing that it is eternal, that it is possible to circumscribe it all, in spite of death. I would be glad if that what acceptance is all about.

jeff campbell said...

Wow...so sad...perhaps happiness can be found in the memories...and thoughts of how there always seems to be a light out the other side of our dark tunnels...empathy wells deep within my soul for you...Peace and blessings

mbkatc230 said...

What an absolutely beautiful tribute to your sister. Her acceptance of everything that life threw at her is very humbling, how wonderful to stop raging against things you cannot change and try to find joy wherever you can. Thank you for sharing this, I know that this has to be a difficult day for you. Hugs, Kathy

Melinda Cornish said...

acceptance is a beautiful thing....what a sister to have...I am humbled....

Melinda Cornish said...

oh yeah, somehow I lost" your garden blog....will you email me the address? thanks so much!!!!

Megan said...

What a sweet and wonderful tribute to your sister. I'm so very sorry for your loss. She sounds like she was an amazing, amazing person! Thank you for sharing part of her with us. (((HUGS)))

gayle said...

Your sister was an amazing person!! You have written something so wonderful!!

Kathleen said...

That was lovely, Jenny.
I lost my sister at 26. She was in a wheelchair all her life. She shared many of the same qualities as your sister. Never complained she couldn't dance and run like her other 3 sisters.
May they rest in peace..I believe they are in Heaven too...and without their disabilities..
Happy Sunday..

dEE said...

Jenny had a sister and Mo had a son and they were made out of the same fabric. Heroes, in my book.

Personalized Sketches and Sentiments said...

...you so sweetly and eloquently spoke and wrote from your heart...

thoughts and prayers for you dear friend...for continued memories of all the special times you and your family shared with your sister.

Blessings & Aloha!

Stephanie. said...

Beautiful. Just Beautiful.

MommaKiss said...

Oh my heart.
I've lost a sibling. And there's no way I could have read at his funeral, much less done this twice.
That is a beautiful eulogy.

Holly said...

I have read few things as beautiful as that. Do very sorry for your loss...lucky her to have you as a sister and you to have her.

Sue (Someone's Mom) said...

She must have been a remarkable person. I'm not like her, I want to be. Your sharing of this is truly a blessing to me and to many others.

Sue

Sares said...

It sounds like your sister was a very special person and that it was a blessing to know her. Thank you so much for sharing your sister Liz with us Jenny.

Sarah in Maine said...

Jenny,
Thank you for the link to your eulogy for your sister...what a wonderful tribute to her.
For me, I have been a hospice worker here in Maine and I learned "bookkeeping" as "life review" and I could visualize your sister having her life review and it being, except for the one time, happy.
What a blessing she must have been to you and your family.
As I was reading the comments, I looked at the clock and realized that I am reading this on the 20th anniversary of my father's death, and the 65th anniversary of my infant sister's funeral. You presented much to think about...

Peace, love and hugs,
Siggi in Downeast Maine