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Our family lost someone yesterday - my sister-in-law in Ohio. Technically, she was my former s-i-l, but to me she was always another sister. She was a member of the family even before I was. Her smile and laughter would light up a room. She was funny even when she wasn't trying to be.
As a young child, she and my brother would have me over to spend the weekend with them many times (before they had a child). I had such fun at their house. Just hanging out, playing cards or games, watching her cook, being taken to the ice cream truck by my brother in the evenings, and the wonderful aromas of food baking and cooking. As an older child, they took me with them to Cedar Point amusement park one year.
My sister-in-law always made me feel as if anything I told her would stay between us and that she would never judge what I did. She became a professional cake decorator for many years and also made candy and other treats.
For three months she was my oldest two daughter's babysitter. I would drop them off in the mornings with their lunches and bottles and she would love them as her own.
Even after she and my brother were no longer married, she was still invited to all the family gatherings as my brother had since moved from that area. I would always try to go visit her and my nephew whenever I was in town.
Due to some severe health issues in the last few years, it was more and more difficult for her to get out to come to the family gatherings we would have. I feel particularly lucky that I did get to see her the last two years I've gone home. Unfortunately a few weeks ago when I was at my mom's, I wasn't able to see her. She wasn't in the best shape health wise. I did speak with her over the phone and urged her to hang in there.
So it was quite unexpected yesterday when my nephew called to tell me that she'd been hospitalized and the doctors feared that there was nothing else they could do. Surely, after giving her the medicine needed, she would rally. Or so I thought. Then my cousin called in the evening to tell me she had passed away. There won't be any services (probably) and she didn't want flowers or anything.
So in lieu of a real obituary, this is my way of telling the world who she was. Daughter who survived both her parents; sister who helped all she could; mother who loved unconditionally; aunt who enjoyed the help and assistance of her neices; an aunt who loved and took care of her other nieces and nephews. Leaves behind a brother, 4 nieces, a son, a mother-in-law, two sisters-in-law, 4 other nieces and 2 nephews, and a host of friends who will miss her deeply.
At times like these the guilt can rise up. I should have made an effort to at least go visit her for a few minutes. I should have written some real letters to her as she hadn't been able to use the computer. I should have called her. The should have's and would have's don't accomplish anything productive.
So I will continue to think of her as a member of the family. To honor her memory by reflecting on her laughter, the way she filled a room with her voice and smile, the too humorous for words things she has done or said, and the love she had for her son and family.
I'll miss you, Phyllis.