Brothers and sisters are as close as hands and feet
Barbara Irene Johann
February 21, 1947 – July 25, 2010
We were a family of eleven….Barbara was my older sister…and the 7th child born into our family. Siblings are the people we practice on, the people who teach us about fairness and cooperation and kindness and caring – A sister is a special gift… when we are too young to know better, we are competitive, we want a caravan of nomads to take one or two away, we get tired of being beat at Canasta with the concealed hand that gives an extra 100 points, that Barbara was very clever at playing and beating me on a consistent basis…we count how many dishwashings they got away with, as my Mom always said she did not need a dishwasher, as she had 5 of them…then, as we grow more mature, we know a sister is someone who will never get bored with your stories of childhood, who will see through you in a heartbeat, who understands your personal stories sometimes better than you do yourself! We share family feuds and secrets, we share family jokes —we know each other’s hearts…we have been through much together, and though time moves on, it can be taken back instantaneously to another moment and seem as real as the present.
In essence, to lose a sister, is to lose a friend…to say good-bye to a part of yourself. However, rather than think of the loss, we need to focus on what the life of Barbara gave to all of us. Barbara was a strong person…in spite of the physical distress that racked her body all of these years…that we have only begun to understand in the last ten. Myotonic dystrophy slowly takes the life out of a person—tiredness is a constant companion—that often causes a person who has it to be misjudged as not trying hard enough— I believe that Barbara was the victim of silent judgments many times, myself included—however, in spite of her physical limitations, she forged ahead and gave 100% to living her life. She was strong-willed and when she made a decision on an action, she followed it through.
She may have been 7th in our family line-up but she was THIRD in the way she lived her life— God was first, then others, then herself. Barbara encouraged others to be kind and generous not through talk, but through action. Despite the many setbacks and rejections that would cause many of us to give up on relationships, Barbara never did… but would constantly give others the opportunity and chance of knowing her and being friends. She never gave up on people. In that she reminds me of Jesus—always there— and is that not what is asked of us as Christians—to be Jesus to one another? How many times is God rejected in our lives, but constantly continues the knocking and does not withdraw His love. That is how Barbara loved…her husband, Terry, her son, Jimmy and Eric, her family…her brothers and sisters…her friends
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