Wednesday, January 21, 2015

My Sister, My Friend: Vangie

Today marks the second anniversary of the day my Vangie went to Heaven. It was unexpected. And still unreal to me. She’d had a stomach virus and was hospitalized for a few days, then sent home. I’d planned to go to Ohio to be with her in the hospital and she convinced me not to because she wanted me to “...wait until we can have some fun together.” So, I didn’t go. Oh, how I wish I had...but ‘coulda-shoulda-woulda’ is too clear now.

She was released from the hospital and recuperating at home, but she began to have severe pain in her abdomen. Next thing we knew, she’d been admitted to the hospital again and in emergency surgery. Ruptured bowel. Her immune system had been weak for many, many years...and this was just too much for her to body to fight. She was put on a ventilator in surgery. It was unhooked two years ago tonight. The nurse said it would be about ten to fifteen minutes. But just like the ‘cruise director’ she was...Vangie lasted four more hours. Her terms. Her timing. Gotta love it that she did that. One of my brothers said she was ‘bossy’ like that! LOL!

I’ve been weepy today. Thought a lot about Vangie. About how much I miss her. How much I love her still...

But I’ve also thought of some funny things. She could get the giggles at the worst time and then I’d start! We were a bit irreverent at times. Vangie and I lived together in 1973 and 1974, sharing a trailer in a little town called Wilmore, Kentucky. I came in from work one cold afternoon to find Vangie huddled in the corner of our sofa, feet on the cushion, still wearing her coat, with her purse still on her arm. She was terrified.

What was the object of her terror? What had her frozen on the corner of the sofa? A mouse trap...with a mouse that she watched struggling as it moved from this earth to that ‘great big hunk of cheese in the sky.’ The trap sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor snapped as she walked in the door. She ran to the sofa and squirmed as she watched it die.

When I walked in the door, she was terrified...of a dead mouse. A mouse that could in no way harm her. Dead as a doornail. She was waiting for me to come home and dispose of the terror. I pulled out a garbage bag, turned it inside out and put my hand down in it so I could pick the mouse and trap up without touching it.

If you could have seen her face...priceless!

She and I had a lot in common. One of those was something I just learned about last month.

In 1995, I was preparing to move from Virginia to Tennessee and had just finished serving on an Emmaus Walk. As we team members were packing up our things and loading our cars, someone suggested making a circle in our cabin so they could pray for me since this was going to be our last time together. After prayer time, we hugged and cried...saying our goodbyes. It was tough. I left first, and turned around to take one last look. My friends were still crying. So I moved toward the door, then said, “hey girls, check this out” and promptly mooned them. Yes, they stopped crying. Ha! Loved the looks on their faces!!!

Last month I learned that Vangie shot the moon to a bunch of girls after they ‘kidnapped’ her along with a couple of other ladies at a church camp. I’m not sure the circumstances because I think it’s some sort of ‘secret sorority’ but I just know that my sister topped off the night by mooning them all! That was her last time at camp. She gave them a lasting memory! Got to the bottom of things!!!

Somehow, it didn’t surprise me when I heard about it. After all, we are Lena’s daughters...and Lena had a funny/silly side that would come out now and again. Vangie’s husband mooned Mother on High Street in downtown Columbus, Ohio.

Vangie and Gary (in the back seat), and Joe and I, were in our VW Bug while Mother and Daddy were being driven by our brother in their car. We pulled up next to each other at a light and Gary mooned Mother!!! The funniest part about it was that she turned to Daddy and said, “What is he doing, Bob?” Daddy laughed till he cried! Mother couldn’t figure it out until we got to our destination and Vangie told her what happened.

I’m just glad he rolled down the window on our car before he did it.

She and I were close. Unusually close. I don’t know too many sisters who have the kind of relationship we had. We loved each other dearly and could drive each other nuts! I have loads of memories that I won’t share here right now. But you need to know that my sister was an awesome, loving, funny, happy, and devoted God, and to her family. She was one-of-a-kind. 

I’m glad she was my sister.

Each blog I post is closed with a particular phrase. Just for the record...Vangie did that every day of her too-short life.

Remember, if you have a pulse, you have a purpose…so make your life count!