If I may be allowed a moment of indulgence, I feel compelled to write some tender feelings that have stirred my heart for the past several days, regarding JoLyn Heder Hansen, who just a week ago was informed that she had terminal cancer and would soon be leaving us.
Although my color outside the lines, boyhood style went contrary to her grain, JoLyn, my kid sister, has remained my loyal friend through all of our years of life together. As a little girl, her squeals could penetrate lead, and more often than not, her ever watchful eye made for a whole bunch of trouble, but she was always my fierce protector. Game for as rough a play as my brothers and I could conjure up, we tore a gash in the sprawling Milford flats that may never be mended. She loved her dolls, and to play house, and pretty dresses, but was also tough, and could run faster than any boy in her class with the exception of Denny Myers, although only we knew it, as while in the public eye, she kept her un-ladylike tomboyish side fiercely guarded. She caught lizards and pollywogs with us boys, and was right next to me when I reached up and snatched a Sparrow hawk from its perch on a cedar fence post. We tortured insects together, built huts, dug tunnels and forts. We sang almost from the womb, for people we didn't know in a bunch of unfamiliar places, performing songs in three and four part harmony before we were out of grade school. JoLyn was our anchor, her perfect alto voice never straying from its key even when audiences seeming to number more than half a town had our hearts trembling with fear. She was mom's loyal sidekick for as long as I can remember, dusting, cleaning, and doing laundry while becoming especially adept at preparing her favorite meal, Macaroni and cheese, which is what we ate any time our parents were gone at dinner time. She took easily to caring for us and others, a quality that has never left her, and is to this day her finest virtue as she continues to gently nurture her six children.
At age seven, while my parents were away, I chopped my thumb off with Dad's hatchet, and when I ran screaming into the house, JoLyn immediately turned nurse. Un phased by the pulsing squirts of blood streaming upward with every beat of my heart, she did what she had seen Mom do for bleeding owee's, and began wrapping the wound with strips torn from a clean bed sheet. Neither of us new anything of the vascular system, or the need to apply pressure, so consequently the dripping mass of crimson cloth on the end of my thumb grew to near volley ball size before we realized we were in serious trouble. In desperation she began again, but was met with the same result as unknowingly I bled nearly to death. Providentially, our neighbor, Jackie Williams, came to the rescue, stopping the bleeding in time, but I've never forgotten the fierce determination with which JoLyn battled to save my life. Some years ago, on the long return drive from Montana after attending the funeral of our grandmother, I caught JoLyn crying during a rest stop and asked what was the matter. A little embarrassed, she responded,
"Oh, it's stupid," she replied, but at my insistence, she continued, "...it's just the way you guys, (referring to me and my brothers) were talking has me worried!"
"About what?" I asked.
"Well," she hesitated, "...Mom and Dad wouldn't approve of your line of thinking, ...nor do I, and it worries me that it may eventually lead you to trouble, and just I can't bear the thought of being in the next life without any one of you."
The sweet concern of my angel sister touched me in such a way that I immediately revisited my personal value system, and made the necessary changes in order to come in line with the things I knew she felt strongly about. Someone once told me,
"It will never hurt you to do a good thing," and as I thought about her sincere desire, expressed in love and tenderness, it wouldn't have mattered what that good thing was, ...I'd have done it. For the second time in our young lives, I recognized her fierce determination to protect me from harm, and once again I benefited from her goodness.
For a full week now, I have been thinking of little else but JoLyn, her wonderful husband, and beautiful family, as together they have struggled to find solace amidst a fire storm of unimaginable revelations regarding the uncertainty of her remaining days. In June, we said goodbye to our brother Van, and now, less than a year later, we are again faced with the painful task of bidding another sibling farewell as JoLyn's numbered days fade with each successive sunset. Though deeply saddened, I have no fear for her, for my trust in Jesus Christ's infinite grace, and the tender mercies of our loving Father in Heaven, assures me she will be received with open arms. She has been a champion among all women, and has in every way prepared herself for this invitation home. I will struggle along with so many at her loss, especially her husband and kids, but the legacy she leaves will carry us on.
To you dear sister, ...you have been every whit my ideal. I love you more than air. I will glory in the moments we have left to share before parting, ...and when you're gone, your precious memory will lead me home.