Forever Sisters

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This is my sister Darlene and I way back in 1985. She was eight months pregnant with her first daughter, Denise. Could it possibly be true that 1985 was really thirty-five years ago? Could it possibly be true that my beautiful, artistic sister just turned sixty years old? Could it possibly true be that she is now the grandmother of three incredible little girls?

Time is brutal in its passage; it does not stop for anyone. Time is precious like the final drop of water in a vast and scorching desert. Time is elusive; its march cannot be stopped. There is no turning back with time; once spent it is forever, irretrievably lost, gone.

My niece Denise called me to tell me that she cannot believe that she is five short years away from forty. Her daughter Maya is about to turn seventeen. Yes, time marches forward and never waits for any of us.

Time is shockingly short, as well, when we look at the thousands of years that stretch out behind the human march forward to this very second in which we live. We are here for just a little while when viewed through the lens of millennia. 

On the day that my sister and I smiled into the camera that our mother was holding, the whole of our futures lay before us. She was eagerly awaiting the birth of her precious daughter; I was a young bride, just recently married. Yes, the whole world lay before us. We were giddy with the promises of love, of children, of careers, of travel, of all that our hearts could ever possibly desire.

Neither of us could at that moment have possibly comprehended just how shockingly cruel that time’s march forward could be. Neither of us could have imagined the losses, the hurts, the disappointments, the ravishes that time could exact upon dreams, aspirations, and the human heart.

Our beloved sister Sara died of lymphoma a few years later and our beloved mother died within a few years of that picture being taken, as well.

Now, Darlene and I have both surpassed the age at which our beloved sister Sara died. Sara died at forty-nine years old. It feels as if it were just yesterday that Sara, Darlene, Mama and I sat at the kitchen table gossiping, drinking sweet tea and eating pound cake. It feels like just yesterday. Just yesterday.  But, it isn’t.  It is as if we blinked and the decades dissolved and have become irretrievably lost.

Time marches on and we cannot call back any of it. We cannot change a single second by looking backwards. Once done, it is over. It is a waste of this  precious, shockingly short life when we hold grudges, envy, and hate. It is a waste of this precious, shockingly short life when we fail to forgive, when we fail to love.

One day, we will all have to say good-bye to this world and all that  is in it. We are all here for just a short time.  Shouldn’t we spend this brief time building up rather than tearing down? Shouldn’t we leave this world a better world than when we arrived in it? 

I am shocked by the passage of time. I remember at thirty years old thinking that my forty-nine year old sister was old. Now that I am almost fifty-nine, I think that she was way, way too young to have died so young.

Oh, what I would give to just spend ten more minutes at the kitchen table talking to Sara, Mama and Darlene! If only I could go back to those moments and give each of them a hug! I would wrap each of them in an embrace and I would never, ever let either of them go.

But, I cannot go back and hug Mama or Sara, but I can hug Darlene. She is my beloved sixty year old sister. I know that one day one of us will no longer be here in this space in time, that one of us will have to say good-bye first and leave the other one behind.  Time is brutal in its passing.

Time waits for no one. Time marches on. The past is the past and it cannot be altered in any way. All we truly have is this moment. I plan to call my sister just to say “I love you, Nina.”   And I do.

Life is short; time passes quickly. Please remember that and reach out to those whom you love. Time waits for no one.

May God have eternal mercy on us,  give us wisdom, grant us peace, and forgive us our transgressions. Amen.

Copyright 2020 Jenny W. Andrews

 

Remembering My Brother George Willie

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This is a sketch of my brother George Willie. I sketched this from an old photograph. He drowned at age 16 the summer before I was born. He and some friends had gone to a lake and were celebrating the end of the school year. While I never knew him, I knew the void that had been left by his absence. My mother, father, and older brother and older sisters never stopped grieving over his loss. His memory haunted that space inside their hearts. I always felt like a stranger on the outside looking in; all I know of him is what they told me. He was almost six feet tall, liked to joke, was good at math and wanted to join the United States Air Force after high school graduation. Sadly, those dreams never came true, his life was cut tragically short. Sixteen years is such a short, short time.

Sixty years ago today, my brother died at sixteen years old. On that sunny June day in 1960 he had no idea that he would never see the next day. Life is so very fleeting; it is so very fragile.

I know one day that I will see him, that I will see all those whom I love who have crossed over into eternity. I love my brother George Willie although I never met him. He is my brother and I feel that he is my guardian angel and that he is always with me. I look at his photograph which I keep on the shelf of remembrance in my home and I know that he is  with God.

Psalm 90: 12 says, “Teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”

Number our days. Life is so short and so precious. We often get so caught up in life’s dramas that we forget that this life is not forever on this earth.

I choose to look towards eternity. I choose to look towards the hope and promise that one day I will be in the glorious presence of my Lord. I trust that it will be a homecoming, that I will meet my brother George Willie and spend eternity with all those whom I have loved.

Jenny W. Andrews copyright 2020

Sisters Forever

100_0073_0227_0001This is a photo of my sister Sylvia and I in the Republic of Ireland in 2008. This photo brings back warm memories; it also brings back a few bitter memories, as well.

Family has a way of lifting us up as well as tearing us down.

Family is complicated. We never can completely burn those bridges or completely sever those ties that bind us to those with whom we share blood and history.

In our current world, everyone is worried about Covid-19 and the potential of death. Truth is that we all must face death one day. If not now, one day, surely each of us will face it.

In looking at this photo, I remember laughter and I remember tears.  I remember stories. I remember inconvenient and unpleasant truths.

In this photo, frozen in time are two sisters born twenty-four years apart who could never quite make that connection as we had hoped our meeting in the Republic of Ireland would have.

Too many differences, too many obstacles, too many years between us.

I look at this photo and wonder how my sister is doing so, so far away from me.

Truth is I pray for her with my whole heart. I pray that she is kept safe from Covid-19 and that she is happy somewhere out there.

I remember seeing an ancient stone bridge in County Kerry. I think of that bridge sometimes and how it was there in that isolated mountainous distance. I think of how it represents in my mind’s eye what my sister and I had tried to accomplish. We had tried to bridge that gap between us. In the end, she and I were like the mountain peaks, impossible to reach.

 

Jenny W. Andrews, Copyright, 2020

 

 

Aunt Mary: Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

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Spaces Between Words: A Memoir

Oatmeal raisin cookies, sweet aromatic scent, warm clear steam floating in front of me like a pastry vision. Aunt Mary, brown like her cookies, lifts the plate and moves it away from me, and tells me to eat my dinner, to wait for dessert. Impatiently, I tell her that I had to have a cookie right then. (At four years old I couldn’t wait).

Behind her, I see a train track suspended in the air just beyond her kitchen window. It is in the near distance and I  wonder why the train track is so high up and how in the world anybody or even how the train gets to that lofty spot in the lower half of the sky.

My mind drifts back to the sweet aroma of freshly baked oatmeal raisin cookies, Aunt Mary moving them further away from me, and my yearning to touch the bumpy texture with my fingertips, and then to finally lift the sweetness to my tongue. Wild-eyed, I  stare at the retreating plate. “Aunt Mary,”  I gasp. “I have to have one, now!”

It was at that moment she paused. Tall, square shouldered, regally Cherokee, her ebony eyes softened, her words whispered low like a night wind. “Here,” stealthily, she slipped a round warm cookie into the palm of my pale hand. She smelled sweet like her cookies. Like a sacrament, I quietly accepted the special exemption I had been granted.

My cousins passed around me unaware of a wish that had been granted and unaware of a bond that had been forged. My Cherokee Aunt Mary smiles at me in amber hues somewhere down the darkened cavernous road where kinship and bloodlines blur, and I know that she is just as much a part of me as I was of her.

 

2019 Copyright, Jenny W. Andrews

All rights reserved.

Thank you for reading. Please let me know what you think.This excerpt is from a rough draft of my memoir. I have been writing on it and reworking it for a couple of years now. Maybe one day I will try to find a literary agent to help me publish it. If anyone knows a reputable literary agent please let me know. Thanks.

-Jenny