Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Blessed Are the Faithful


(I read this at the funeral of my sister Barbara on Oct. 7, 2013. She was 64.) 
Somebody else wrote: Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
I write: Blessed are the faithful.
My sister Barbara was married to her husband Alan for 43 years, and they celebrated that anniversary with a dinner out one week before she died. 
Blessed are the faithful. 
Barbara, our brother Richard, and I and our spouses and kids celebrated every Christmas and Thanksgiving together since the late 1980s, after our parents Lillian and Adolph Zdun died. Add most Easters and a whole lot of Fourth of Julys, with various in-laws in various combinations at various houses. 
Blessed are the faithful.
Easter was Barbara’s holiday, and she made the ham and the Easter eggs and put out the butter shaped like a lamb and the small glass of vinegar for your ham and a shot glass with a salt and pepper mixture for your eggs. We had the butter lamb and the vinegar and the salt mixture because that’s what we had and how we had it when we were growing up in Chicago and celebrating Easter. Thanksgiving was my holiday, and every year Barb and Alan carved the turkey because I’m a vegetarian and I can cook a turkey but don’t know how to slice it.
Blessed are the faithful.
Barbara is the family memory keeper, and hers was always the first card to arrive – early -- for birthdays and wedding anniversaries. She signed the cards with her round, neat handwriting: "Love and joy, Barb and Alan." She always remembered my children’s birthdays; there were always cards and gifts.
Blessed are the faithful. 
Barbara got her first job right after high school in 1967 and she worked at different jobs, starting with Illinois Bell and ending with United Airlines and there was a crafts store in between, until she retired in November 2011.  That adds up to 44 years. It says in her obituary that she was a longtime member of her needlework guild and her house in Niles where she lived for more than 30 years is decorated with her needlework, lots of pieces with tiny, regular, beautiful, time-consuming, patience-requiring stitches.
Blessed are the faithful.
She was diagnosed with cancer in December 2011 and lived bravely through a year of chemotherapy, one gamma knife surgery, and weeks of radiation treatment earlier this year. She got out of bed – late! – every day until a couple weeks ago after the doctor said nothing more could be done. Then she didn’t get out of bed for a while, but then she changed her mind and answered the phone when I called and she celebrated her wedding anniversary last week and went grocery shopping on Monday because those are things you do when you live your life. 
Blessed are the faithful.
I prayed for my sister right after I woke up every morning during her illness and asked God to give her healing and strength. She got one out of two. I have had some strong words with God and the only answer I got, as far as I can understand, is blessed are the faithful. 
You are all friends and relatives of Barbara and Alan and our family who came to say goodbye and honor and love your friend. Some of those ties that bind us go way, way back. Thank you for staying faithful to her. 
Blessed are the faithful.    

1 comment:

Ruffs Mom said...

Beautiful! Very touching! I wish I had known your sister. I love the little details you tell us about her.