Newsletter Article



   It has been an epic Lent. I just learned that my sister-in-law Sandy died this morning. At this point I have no idea when the funeral will be held in Texas. It is Holy Week next week, so I am trying to get as much as I can wrapped up before I leave.  Good heavenly days how are we going to work around the Holy Week schedule?  Not a clue.

   Only my sister Marie and brother Joe are left from my family of origin, so I can’t even consider not going. I made sure they both know my commitments coming up. I am hoping for the best. Providentially Dolly, my Dachshund who lost her eyesight this month, can board at her favorite hangout while I’m gone. It is usually booked solid a month in advance. They love her at that kennel and promised to pamper her. Airfare is just scary, but nothing to be done about it. I refuse to be cheap. That’s one reason I’m still working. Not the most important one, but it’s up there.

   All day I have been trying to make this work, and it is not because I was fond of Sandy. She was a drug addict who stole something from everyone in the family. Her liver died of abuse. Joe is my 13 years younger brother. I was grown and gone by the time he started first grade. I don’t know him all that well. So, what’s the fuss?

   It’s Holy Week. It’s the time when we powerfully remember the stories of Jesus’ death. Sinners are saved at that cross. That means me and Sandy. This week I have the chance to show my brother that I love them both and their son Grant in a way that is not likely to come again soon. I can’t pass it up. I literally can’t—because no one knows what the future will hold. I’m not getting any younger.

   So, my step-daughter Janice is picking Marie and me up at an airport in Houston and driving us south to our home town sometime this week or next. I have to be back for Palm Sunday and Maundy Thursday through to Easter. Surely, we can work something out? I hope. That is where I have to leave it if I plan to get any sleep tonight after I start packing. I need to go to Walmart for hosiery. Write that down.

   Family obligations remind me how complicated love is. That the sign of God’s love would be the cross and then the resurrection is so appropriate. No matter how bad it gets there will be Easter. I believe that. I have felt sulky about a lot of things lately, particularly Dolly’s sudden sight loss and all those adjustments in the middle of my busy Lent. Sandy’s passing gave me a head’s up. I want to tell Marie, Joe and Grant that I love them.

   Update—one week later. Sandy was a big woman like me. When I saw her in the casket, she may have weighed 90lbs. That woman suffered. My heart was moved by pity. I imagined God moved by pity to send us Jesus to show us God’s love. Joe made up a slide show for the viewing with pictures from Sandy’s life. She was a merry, happy little girl. I didn’t know her then, and it was good for me to be charmed by her.

   I was chatting with her cousin Ricky about it. He is a Medicine Man of the Ponca Sioux from Oklahoma. Sandy was half Native American. I told him it was good for me to see those pictures of Sandy full of mischief and laughter. He cracked a smile and started telling stories of her childish antics. I learned they were as dismayed as my family was by Sandy’s choices. Those stories helped us. 

   Before they drove home, Sandy’s family asked for a family picture. I have a group shot of four white bread faces in a crowd of Sioux. We are a family united by our stories and one boy, Joseph Grant. Now that’s an Easter story!


Happy Easter Ya’ll!