You might think this is a sad story, and indeed it is, but it also speaks to living life to the fullest, and the joy of being with friends and family. It also focuses on God’s love for all of us.
So here it goes:
When I was a teenager on Long Island, my Grandmother flew me down to Brooksville, Florida, every summer to visit her and, more importantly, to look after her other grandchildren – Dale, Lois and Michael. Their mother had some challenges in her life, and sending the kids to Grandmother’s house gave her a respite.
I loved going to Grandmother’s house. One, I was from New York, and all the local boys thought that was very cool. They took me out on dates to get ice cream and such. But more importantly, I loved being with my cousins and I’m sure they felt the same way.
Lois was the middle child – and I first met her when she was a squalling baby. I was 5, and lived in St. Petersburg. Lois was a newborn and her Mom was having a hard time handling it. My mother booked a short flight on a rickety puddle jumper to Key West, where the family was living on a Naval Base, and took me with her. I was terrified by the flight, but excited to meet my newest cousin.
Years later, I spent a lot of time with Dale, Lois and Michael when they were young, and we all went to Brooksville, Florida, every summer to stay with Grandmother. I’ll never forget the fun we had there. I remember Lois somersaulting down the large grassy hill in front of the house. The beautiful girl with blonde hair and a huge heart.
To this day I can see her climbing up the large tree in the backyard. (We all called it the “climbing tree.”) The limbs were so long and wide we could all sit up there for hours, telling jokes and reading books in the shade of the leaves. We also spent days at the local pool. I watched the kids as they splashed and swam, and then took them into the clubhouse to get lunch or a snack.
One of my funniest memories – although it wasn’t funny at the time – was a summer day when Lois got on her bicycle, started riding down a hill, and ran slam into a bunch of bushes. Since I was in charge, I had to ‘fess up to Grandmother about the incident.
But that was years ago.
The Lord was on our side this past summer, when I celebrated my 50th birthday, and we decided to have a sisters and cousins reunion. Michael couldn’t attend, but Dale, Lois and my sisters Sharon and Mary came to Charlotte. We stayed in a lovely hotel, played Apples to Apples, went to a spa, rode in a limousine to a fancy restaurant and shared memories of our younger years. Lois loved the reunion weekend. In the group photo taken by a bellhop at the hotel, her eyes were shining.
Lois died this month, in her mid-40s. She lived life to the fullest. She had dozens of friends and many people who loved her. Her friends and family will always love and remember her. She was a gift from God, and she is with Him in Heaven.
And that is where she lives in Joy forever.