“In Search of a Saint”
In this month of March, life reflects, through nature’s awakenings around us and for me the season of Lent, a time to ponder one’s life with the prospect of new beginnings and continued rebirthing all around. We have clipped the old dead branches and dried snarls in our gardens and await the refreshing green of this wonderful month, the joyful color of spring. Within we await the joy of a future Easter while approaching that holy day with reflections and efforts to better shine for the God who made us. We aspire to come to the garden each day early to find Him who walks with us and talks with us and tells us we are His own. We search within to find a saint! Who, me? You bet! That is the calling of our lives, gentle readers, and one we often forget. While I know myself far from sainthood, although “wanna be” lives within, may I please introduce you to Sista?
I first deeply examined this about a year ago when these words were scribbled. “So, what the heck was I doing in Morrow, Georgia, at the Comfort Suites in South Atlanta, you ask? Only one word to answer this, ‘Sista’! When money got tight and Namesake was unable to help her mother with the jewelry show, yours truly to the rescue!” Sista takes pearls and estate pieces and turns them into a renaissance of renewed beauty. We had made a road trip to sell! When I asked myself, “Why me, Lord? What did I ever do?” The answer was simple from Above. Love made me do it!
Sista is sick. This is nothing new, but this time with the dreaded combo of a thing called Crest Syndrome and “the worst case of Crohn’s Disease” the doctors have seen locally. She has almost been completely bed-ridden for nearly two years. However, the show, financially speaking, must go on; so to Morrow we went for sales and money comfort. Bills go on, even when the body has been pushed past the point.
Somewhere in the scheme of life, Sista was designated as “suffering one” for this family. When Big Daddy took me to the hospital to see my new baby sister, had he been any less a man when they showed him the wrong baby, the nurse would’ve been fired. He very kindly said, “That’s not my baby,” and stood there in his handsome John Wayne-ish way of six-foot-two World War II strength until the errant nurse hustled to get his new rosy treasure. At almost seven I knew my new best friend had just shown up! She was pink aglow with a shot of red-golden airy fuzz around her sweet face. We connected from the start! I was so happy Daddy had found my real Sista!
Hers was the suffering spot from the beginning. Born with a small nose tumor, only by needle injections remedied at under a year, she seemed the child of beauty and drama. I remember noting her as so special when she was burying a little ball in the backyard sandbox. The image of her angelic face still remains! She was more than a living babydoll to me, more cherub than child. Wish Brother had felt that way about her, but somewhere he decided the role of tormentor better suited his needs.
Sufferings continued. Mama discovered the kindergarten teacher hitting her after school one day for some reading error. That lady never touched Sista again! At eight the “brilliant whiz kid” half a block away decided to outside experiment with gasoline, cherry bombs, and the underground drainage pipe. Unfortunately, the explosion reached Sista down the street and burned her from top to toe. Hospitalized for three weeks and saturated in love and prayer, she resurfaced without a scar until adulthood when melanoma hit and joints wore out for replacement.
In the midst of youth, Sista discovered that she and a horse could become a magical unit. She posted the first time she rode at five or six! It was musical to watch her ride, and her jumping on the later show thoroughbred was clearly visionary. Her passion for such made her performances brilliant. Not only was she beautiful as equestrian, but to see her dive from a high board in summer was Grace itself!
Memories at my st/age are not always illumined as I would choose, but through the years there are those memories of Sista consistently prominent in my life. She was there at my earliest both happy and sad times and has stayed a living support throughout my life. A true gift from God, Sista has skipped with me down the road all along, even though that act is less obvious physically and now resides within our spirits. Nevertheless, we skip together even still!
The dictionary describes a saint as one who is “a person of great holiness, virtue, and benevolence.” Read about the lives of noted saints, and we find they walked through life hand-in-hand with suffering. Sista is sick with Crohn’s disease. She is my suffering saint who has walked with me through nearly every joy and crisis of these sixty-plus years. She would never call herself a saint, but to me, she has all the ingredients of one.
If you have to be in a foxhole in war times, you would want Sista with you! She is the one who feels your pain, who shores you up, and who rejoices in your joys as if they were truly her own. Don’t admire anything she has because the next thing you know it will be at your house! Having a gathering? Needing a wedding in a week for a child? She’s that girl who either brings THE most incredible tomato sandwiches or hosts the whole reception with all the food at her home! Have someone in your life whose words cut you to the quick with biting pain? Count on Sista to come to the rescue! Being self-centered in a pity party? Just let Sista tell you how the cow ate the cabbage!
My Delta grandmother’s name was Frances, who was a saint in her own way. This Frances had a house marked in hobo language outside on the curb during the Depression as a safe haven for feeding the homeless. She was named for another grandmother who died early after going to Arkansas as a young bride to pioneer that land. My Sista carries that same name and has suffered under its banner like a champion. Daughter, too, walks under that signage. It is the suffering name of a saint. We have decided that it needs retiring and have agreed that “Frances” is now put out to pasture for the women of this family! I think it is a good decision, but there are no guarantees that saint suffering will go with the name.
So, good readers, may we all aspire for sainthood! However, if you are marching in this manner, I pray you do so with a Sista by your side. My longtime friend, Kerry whose middle name is Francis interestingly enough, the jeweler turned lay evangelist, said once that jewelers tumble diamonds with diamonds in the end to get the sharpest facets. I am so happy to be tumbling along with my Sista in these last years and pray we end this life shining as the saints! See you next time, should God say the same. And please pray for my beloved Sista!