The year is speeding by, and seems to gain momentum with each passing day. Sadly, time has brought unrequested changes.
My sister, Charma Lee, passed away on September 7th, in her 77th year. She had been in failing health over the past few years, and so had spent most of her time in an area nursing home. She was visited there by family and friends...sometimes she recognized them; sometimes she did not. When I journeyed to Ohio to spend some time in 2009, I had the opportunity to visit with her on three different occasions. On the first visit, she recognized me only after I softly called her name. Her face lit up with a beautiful smile, and she reached out her arms to embrace me. We chatted for a long time, until I saw that she was tiring. I left that day, but returned to see her again just a few days later. This time, she did not recognize me as we sat side by side and quietly talked about anything she brought to mind. On the third occasion, she knew who I was, and gently held my hand as she tried to fight off sleep. Shortly, however, she drifted off. I kissed her goodbye, and made my journey out of the nursing home, and back across America. I never saw her or spoke to her again.
I have a few photos of her which I take out occasionally. I was always excited when her boyfriend, Lee Forrest, riding his big motorcycle, came to call on her. I was just a little kid when she left home in 1951 to marry Lee. Over the next several years, as Lee's construction work took them to other places in Ohio, I had the chance to spend time with them. I attentively listened to Lee's stories of service in the Navy during World War II. I vividly remember their small "house trailer" and the fun we had during the summer months in far-distant Waverly, Ohio. I remember their shiny, new 1953 Chevrolet stationwagon, and the daughters - six girls eventually - they brought home to visit in North Lewisburg over the years.
In later years, Charma and Lee divorced. Charma married Edward "Cy" Wolford in 1971. Three years later, Cy, Charma, and a motor home filled with their family made a trip across America. They visited with my wife, son Chip, and me in Utah. It was a pleasant, fun-filled time for all of us.
As she grew older, Charma reminded me so much of our mother. There was a structure in her face, and an attitude which she projected that so often mirrored Mom.
She accompanied Mom in 1976 on a trip to visit my family and me when I was assigned to Army duty in Hawaii. It was the first trip to Hawaii for both of them. I have several pictures of all of us as we gathered near the gravesite of my father at the National Cemetery of the Pacific, in Honolulu.
Miles and time kept us apart over the years which followed. Yet, I always had a warm spot in my heart for my sister Charma. Unfortunately, and to my deep sorrow, I was too ill to make the journey back to Ohio in September for her funeral service. Someday, however, I'll travel again to Ohio, and make a special visit at her gravesite.