Today my sister went home to join her husband Bob and our mom. My heart is broken but my spirit is lifted because I know that she is residing in glory with those that left before. Barbara Lee was the first child of Ina Lee. Her father was Bill Gibson, my mom's first husband. She lived with my mom's grandparents, Pappy and Grandma White until she was nearly 4 when my mom remarried H. E. Shurtz and she was brought back to live with them in Columbus. Our sister Patti was born in 1948 and by the time I was born in 1951 my parents marriage was nearly over and Barbara took over the "mothering" of her sisters as our mom was trying to cope. I have been told that Barb was near totally responsible for me for the first year. Patti would have been almost 4 and Barbara was 9.
Memory: I was watching Barbara get ready for a date and putting on makeup. I told her that I guess I'm just going to be a plain Jane
My sister was politically a conservative and mourned with me when Mitt Romney lost the election. She wasn't a huge fan of Mitt but she felt that Obama was leading us down a road that we will not recover. But she would continue that God had control and that this is all part of the plan for the end times. She never finished college but was one of the most well read people that I know. She read voraciously and spend hours in her bible. She was a born again Christian and walked the walk. She understood that good works alone were not enough to gain entrance into heaven. She despaired over the path that the church is taking in getting away from the word into a secular feel good movement. But again she would say "these times are exciting, this has all been prophesied. Her guilty passion after her bible was true crime books. I couldn't get her to read a regular novel to save my life!
Memory: Seeing her dressed up for homecoming at West High School. She was nominated for Homecoming Queen and did not make it but was on the court. I remember telling her I would rather be homecoming queen than Miss America.
She was mother to Mindy, Carrie, and Mark. Grandmother to Suzanne, Joel, Drew, Evan, Mia and Ashley. She loved her family and every conversation with her had some anecdote from one of the grandkids. She was so proud of Suzanne, Mindy's daughter, because she became a nurse. I heard about Carrie's boys every time I called and the funny things they would say or do. I learned how Ashley and Mia, Mark's daughters, were so very very creative. She came to stay with Becky for a week when Winston was born. She lamented that she was too sick to meet the twins so Stan, Becky and I took her kids to meet Barbara while she was in rehab. It was the last time I would see her and it was a blessed trip.
Memory: Barbara was "chatty" and Bob was more taciturn. She told a story that just after they got married they were lying in bed and she was just chattering away. Bob turned and looked at her and said " why don't you turn over and play your flip side".
Because she was in Ohio she had primary care of our mom in later years. It was hard on her and she later reflected that she was able to come to terms with the resentment that she harbored from childhood. She said that God revealed to her the issues and she was able to let go of the past and have a spiritual healing that gave her abundant love for our mom. Those reading this don't misunderstand, we had a wonderful mom but for a time she was unable to provide those things that moms need to give because of what was happening in her life. Barb was the one who had to pick up the reins and keep us going.
Barbara had a life time of illness that really didn't keep her down but caused her great discomfort As a teenager she would have frequent fevers that were termed "fevers of unknown origin" She had trouble sleeping and other vague complaints that caused one of her doctors to tell her she needed a psychiatrist. She was finally diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.
Memory: Bob, Barb and all her kids brought mom to Pensacola, Florida to visit me. She had a rash on her hairline and asked me, the nurse, what she should do. I told her it looked like psoriasis so go lay out in the sun. I had pictures developed just after they went home and called mom telling her I know what is wrong with Barb. The pictures showed a perfect "butterfly rash" and combined with all her other symptoms was very suspicious of SLE. Mom told me "you almost killed her having her go in the sun" She had to go to the hospital as soon as she got home BUT she finally did get diagnosed.
Sisters. Always three. Different in many ways but united by love and family. We always met for weddings and family gatherings. We had a sisters weekend in New Orleans a few years back and promised that we would do that again. We never really did. We agreed that we would get together for the birthdays that started a decade. 40, 50, 60 etc. That did work out for a while but work and events sort of took precedence. Sisters now two united in love and in grief.
Memory: Patti, Barb and I were staying in a old B and B in New Orleans. They were arguing politics and I took my coffee, cigarettes and book to the balcony to quiet. Patti came out and ask me how I pick a president. I told her that I pick the man I would most like to sleep with. Patti was disgusted and I went back to reading. It was the Bush and Kerry year. Really no contest Kerry made me gag.
I call my sisters every week(almost) Friday is Joann Page day. Joann is my father's first child and my oldest half sister. Saturday is Barbara day and Sunday is Patti day. Recently the past year or so I took to calling Barb several times a week to discuss politics and religion. She was so very knowledgeable and well read on both subjects and would give me ideas for my blog. I am sitting here looking at notes that I have taken from conversations to put on blogs and it makes me sad that I didn't blog sooner about things that she was interested in. I promise Barb that I will start blogging again.
Patti went down and spent several weeks with her while she was in rehab. Barbara commented again and again what a blessing it was to have Patti with her. She told me that she had such love for her and her exact wording was that they had really bonded even though she was driving Patti crazy.
Memories: Red beef stew, green iced Christmas Tree cookies, lemon bars, potato casserole, baked asparagus and dill salmon dinner, bathing the dogs(before the final goodbye), my black leather coat with the silver fox collar that I gave her, Johnny Marzetti (its a dinner dish), Pepsi not Coke, my potato soup, grandchildren, weddings, funerals, sitting in the airport in Lafayette talking with mom about French kissing and oral sex(Patti, Barb, and me), Martha, Freddie, Dianne( I thought they were so glamorous when I was a child), backrubs, unconditional love no matter what I did, surprising Patti when she got Rotarian of the year, no PJ's, her wedding to Bob..she was so beautiful, Mark sticking a hatpin in her butt while at the store, Carvel Ice cream shop, West Third Ave apartment, foster child Althea, putting Queenie our collie to sleep( it took me years to get over that), Andy her basset hound, Cincinnati on Woodmill Lane, Joshua's wedding, Rebekah's wedding, the family cruise, Aunt Bee, I could go on and on as the scenes flash in my head... it's a kaleidoscope of laughter, tears, joy and sorrow.
Joshua put it best when he said Aunt Bee had a life well lived. I will miss her so very much. Barbara you had a great impact on my life and my faith and really no better thing can be said, I will cherish each memory until we meet again.