|Sister Fannie Mae and Dad, around 1972|
With my good wife’s encouragement, I spent the past weekend with my older sister Fannie Mae, now 84, providing some assisted living care following her having a stint installed in her heart at Augusta Health. It was a good time to reconnect with a valued family member, and for having some heart to heart conversations of the kind we seldom find time for.
The one registered nurse in our family, Fannie Mae has not only served in a variety of US healthcare settings, but as a professional midwife and director of maternity clinics in Belize and then in Paraguay, assisting in over 200 births over a two year period. “God was good to me,’ she said, “I never lost a mother or a baby in all those deliveries, with the exception of several stillbirths.”
You have to be proud of a sister like that.
As an expression of her giant-size heart, she brought a mentally handicapped child home with her from Paraguay whom she later adopted. Nina, now an adult and living elsewhere, is unable to look after her adoptive mom.
In some of our talks this weekend she shared what it’s like for her to be aging as the only single person in our family. This led to long discussions about the nature of family, how we as siblings and members of our extended and church families need to take responsibility for each other as we become aged and infirm. We agreed that whether married or single, we need to make sure none of our loved ones is ever unloved, neglected or uncared for.
Spending sibling time with a special sister, helping with meals and with the physical therapy she has to do every morning and evening, and having this uninterrupted time for conversation, all deepened my appreciation of the faith, hope and love that help keep a family together.
I love my sister, one of only two remaining, with four others having already passed (two of them in the past four months). Thankfully, both of my older brothers are still living.
I am blessed beyond measure.