Expectations Fulfilled…

In verdant pastures God gives me repose;
beside restful waters God leads me;
God refreshes my soul.

From Psalm 23:2-3

This is the anniversary of my sister’s departure for the hereafter.

When Cecele returned to her doctor due to a persistent cough, she didn’t expect him to suggest an exploratory procedure. Not long afterward, she didn’t expect to hear about cancer, her months-long prognosis and the chemo which might or might not help. When she finally absorbed all of this, Cecele observed, “I’m a fighter. I’m going to fight this.” And that she did!

My sister dug in her heals and embraced the regimen of care laid out for her. The rest of us accompanied her to appointments and did whatever else we could to lighten her burden. We talked a little and we listened a lot. When the chemo wreaked havoc with her hair, my sister’s daughter-in-law shaved her head for her. Though the Cancer Society provided a lovely wig, Cecele determined that bald is beautiful. On her, it really was. When the chemo failed to help, Cecele accepted hospice care. Again, she fought, This time, she fought to accomplish everything that needed to be done before she took her leave. And that she did, too. I don’t think I’ll ever meet an equally prepared dying person!

Though my sister’s final journey was unexpected, the outcome was precisely what she’d hoped for. When I bade my final farewell to her earthly remains, the peace on Cecele’s face was unmistakable. The few glimpses of the hereafter which had graced her last days sustained Cecele through her good-byes and her last breaths. I have no doubt that her experience of the things to come is everything she hoped for and so much more! It was her expectation regarding eternal life which saw her through what could have been a far more difficult journey.

Loving God, thank you for this life and the amazing life to come.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserve

Here’s To You!

Sing joyfully to the Lord, all you lands;
serve the Lord with gladness…

Psalm 100:1

Today is my sister’s birthday.

Rita was fifteen-going-on-sixteen when our dad passed away. As the eldest of the six of us, she understood too well what was happening and felt the pain of this loss deeply. During his year-long illness, Rita became our mother’s right-hand person. Though she still needed nurturing herself, my sister tended to the rest of us and shared her part-time wages when money was tight. As I consider my own teens which unfolded years later, I suspect my sister missed out on many typical teen activities because of our family circumstances.

Decades later,when our brother battled with his declining health, Rita spent time with him. When our mom fought her final illness, Rita assisted with her care. When our younger sister received a terminal diagnosis, Rita drove her to doctors’ appointments and treatment to keep her company. In the midst of all of this, Rita remained a supportive parent, sibling and friend to the rest of us.

The good news is that Rita also rises to the occasion when fun is involved. As the keeper of family traditions, she sees to the propagation of our annual family picnic. Over the past few years, she has also become the family historian. She completed our dad’s family history and then did the same for our mom’s side of the family.

So, sister of mine, I thank you for everything. I also wish you many more years to come, for your sake and for ours!

Dear God, thank you for my sister Rita and for all of the people who rise to the occasion in good times and bad.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

A Birth and Re-Birth Day

Give thanks in all circumstances…
1 Thessalonians 5:18

I’m celebrating two special women today. This is my niece’s birthday. She is my brother’s first child and her arrival changed his life forever. My brother truly loved his wife. Yet, when his daughter was born, love took on a whole new dimension. Suddenly, this child’s happiness and well-being became his focus. Suddenly, nothing else was quite as important as this little girl. Though her parents smile upon her from above these days, I know they join me in thanking God for the gift that Sue is to us all. Happy Birthday, Sue!

My sister is also celebrating a birthday of sorts today. In her case, this is a “re-birth” day. Four years ago, my sister took her leave after raging a determined war with cancer. After doing her best to endure rigorous treatment and to remain hopeful in the process, the day came when my sister embraced another journey. When the medicine no longer helped, Cecele took over. After getting her house in order, she spent every minute with her children, her grandchildren and the rest of us. On the day she passed, I know that no one celebrated more than Cecele.

Though this event threatened to cast a shadow on my niece’s birthday, it did the precise opposite. Cecele had a special place in her heart for our niece Sue. I’ve often wondered if she did her best to share this special date with her. One day, I’ll know.

Loving God, bless Sue as she continues her journey here. Bless Cecele with your attention when she comes to you on our behalf. Bless the rest of us with grateful hearts as we celebrate every day we are given.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved