Thursday, April 2, 2009


She seems yet alive and near me!
by Charlie Leck

I often get the feeling that she is still alive. Little things happen that make it seem she is standing next to me and I almost speak to her (okay, I have spoken to her in those moments). I catch myself and shake my head at the silliness of it.

I drive by Irene and Steve’s house, perhaps as much as once each week, and I feel her sitting next to me, shouting for me to “stop, stop!” There is no place in Minnesota she liked more than Steve’s lovely gardens, where the lilies grew. And, she loved Irene’s smiling face and eyes just as much. She always felt so welcome there. On her last visit Irene took her on that pretty walk through the shrubs that led to the grotto.

“Oh my,” she said to me after that visit, “if I lived there I’d take that little walk every day and just sit there in that grotto and be happy.”

At her funeral, down in Texas, I was often introduced as the fellow from Minnesota who Jean always went to visit. So many times I received responses that just made me smile.

“Oh, you must be the man with the beautiful gardens, who sent Jean home with all those lilies she loved so much.”

I stopped trying to explain that I was only her brother, and let it go!

I bump into Irene on Facebook. Her profile photo is incredible. What a smile! Every time I see it, I feel my sister get excited.

“Look, look, it’s Irene!”

And some say there is not life after death.

In the knife drawer, in our kitchen, is a clever little devise she gave to us – a medium sized carving knife with a small plastic case into which it slides for storage. Each time one withdraws the knife its blade is drawn across a sharpening strip. It happens again when one pushes it back into the case.

She kept telling me about the devise for years and said I should shop for one. Just to please her I looked and looked but could never find anything like what she had described. On one visit, she pulled a brand new one from her purse and proudly presented it to us.

Now, I see that inventive, clever knife nearly every day and, when I look at it, I see my sister’s kind, generous, loving face.

She lives on in my heart, mind and soul, and she always will.

She and my mother were alone on the dark night when I was born. There was no doctor. She was the first person in all creation to touch me. There is bonding at birth and I was forever sweetly bonded to her. What a gift!

I think of that evening when our youngest child was born. A nervous, inexperienced doctor withdrew her from her mother’s womb. She was passed to a kind, veteran nurse, who turned to the baby’s oldest sibling – a sister 17 years older.

“Would you like to bathe her?”

I sat crumbled and spent in a chair, holding my wife’s hand. We watched as big sister took baby sister in her arms and did so gently and lovingly what the nurse instructed. I smiled at my love and she at me. I saw the bonding happening “before my very eyes.” Sister to sister, but, now, something more and something so touchingly beautiful.

Oh, dear sister, you are here with me and near me as I write. I feel your presence so constantly and, I confess, I talk softly to you about lovely, precious memories.

1 comment:

  1. Charlie, I have never been so touched as I am by your words of tribute. It was an honor to know Aunt Jean and I thank you for connecting us. And I appreciate your kind words about me and Steve. I remember well her last visit to our garden. Her body was failing, but her spirit and heart were as pure and strong as ever.

    Steve is going to reach out to the daylily breeders and see if we can find a new hybrid to name after Aunt Jean. Won't she be pleased to have a flower carry on her spirit?