Monday, May 4, 2009

This is my sister Lee

From before I was born Lee had been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Eleven years older than me, she was happy to read to me or teach me the things she knew about. She couldn’t get down on the floor and play, but she could tell me stories. I remember Lee trying to teach me French when I was very young. I’m sure it was a frustration but she kept at it.

When she was in high school Lee became confined to a wheel chair. She had several surgeries by the time she went off to college. But she was determined not to let her disabilities slow her down. By the time she finished a BA in fine arts with a minor in art history, five years later, she was also up and walking again.

Lee had spent most of her childhood so limited that she was determined to be all on her own from the time she finished college. It was the mid 70’s, she decided to go traveling with a friend in an old Cadillac with the backseat removed and fitted with a double bed mattress. She spent months in the south western United States before settling in the Pacific Northwest.

She worked for some time as the artist in residence at the Olympic Community College in Port Angeles, Washington, making huge hand-built pottery. She later switched to paper arts because it was easier on her joints. Later when I attended Bible college in Seattle area I visited her quite often and we spent many happy hours laughing about our odd family and how we survived.

She had very different values from me, but of all my siblings I felt I really knew her best, especially since I spent more adult time with her than my other siblings and vice versa. We often enjoyed doing art projects together when I visited her. And we talked about the things on our hearts. And once in a while I would talk her into a drive around the beautiful Olympic Peninsula.

Lee passed away on May 4 just after midnight. She had several complications to her many health issues following a series of small strokes in mid April. I loved my sister. She will be missed.

This photo was taken last Thanksgiving, the last time the five of us were together. Lee is on the lower left.


briant said...

Jan, thanks for this biography of Lee. I met her maybe a couple of times, I know for sure at your Mom's funeral, but maybe another time too. I liked visiting with her. I'll be praying for you and your siblings...

Shawn Hoye (Korbel) said...

This is very nice Jan I really enjoyed reading this. Lee is a very special person and has touched my life in a very special way. I was able to communicate with her on a different level when it came to my Devin. Thank you for posting this!

Ellen said...

Jan, I am so sorry about your sister. May God comfort you as you mourn the loss of your sister.

Andy said...

Jan, we were sad to hear about your sister's passing. We will be praying for you in the coming weeks, that the Lord would comfort and sustain you as you mourn Lee.

Kathy Lewis said...

Since I never didn't grow up with a sister (but have many "sisters" now), it is hard for me to imagine what it would be like to have done so. The age difference between you and Lee is about the same as that of Josie and Corrie...and I know they would miss each other terribly if one were gone. Thanks for sharing-it helps me to appreciate your loss in a greater way. You're in my prayers as you deal with this loss, as well as travel and start new again in Africa.