Wednesday, March 23, 2016

In Love With Life--Our Lovina 1926-2016

photos courtesy of grandson Eldon Yoder
I'll forever remember the evening of March 2, one I spent by my oldest sister Lovina's bed, next to that of her ailing husband Ernest's, in the modest home they had built on their farm near Rustburg in Campbell County.

I had scheduled a flight that was to leave from Roanoke early the next morning for a trip to visit our older brother Sanford and his family in Costa Rica, so I wanted to be sure to be able to see her before I left.

Lovina was one of the more petite members of our family, but with the kind of ready smile and radiant energy that could light up a very large room. She loved life, and had a way of making everyone she met feel welcomed and warmed.

Ernest and Lovina
In late 1947, within a year and a half of our move from Kansas to the Valley, Lovina married her beloved Ernest when she was just short of 20 and he was 21. The two were inseparable partners who celebrated a rare quality of compatibility and camaraderie. Together they raised a family of seven fine children and were blessed with multiple grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Lovina loved them all lavishly, just as she had loved and nurtured all of her eight younger siblings. So I found it way beyond necessary for me to tell her on that last night, in her semi-conscious state from strokes she had suffered just weeks before, how much I loved her and how much I would miss her as my special, special oldest sister.

She and I each inherited our mother's love for reading and our father's love of history, and Lovina spent many hours over many years gathering historical information to add to both the Campbell County and our family's story. I was also influenced by her love of gardening and her delight in all of God's creation, along with her interest in local jail inmates she visited and wrote to.

But words fail me right now. Small as she was in size, to me she will always be larger than life. When I learned upon my arrival in Costa Rica that she had passed, and that I, as well as my aging older brother, would not be able to attend her funeral, I felt both a sense of great loss and a sense of a great blessing that I will always carry with me.

I would like to become more like her, and to one day die as she did, with mission accomplished and surrounded by God's grace and her family's love.
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