Friday, August 31, 2012

Naomi (Reinke) Edmonds

With this past year, since last August, I have had to say goodbye to too many important people in my life. First Anne (see "Pebbles"), then my mother in November (see "My Mother's Heaven," & "Mom's Eulogy" ). In February, in was Lee (see "Lee Carroll" ). This week, it was Naomi (Reinke) Edmonds, a woman I've known and loved all my life. My other big sister.

Naomi (Reinke) Edmonds
May 7, 1957 - August 24, 2012
Of all those passings, Naomi's hit me hardest. I tried to find the right words to say goodbye to her at yesterday's memorial service; but I found…I couldn't. It was hard enough just to write in the past tense. To say goodbye was simply not possible. The best I could do was to describe her as my other big sister. And I have to believe she is still out there watching over me…and her husband, her brother, her real sister, and all the children she helped to raise (Becky's, Kari's, Sharyl's, Darrell's, the Epstein's, the Finkelstein's….) in her well lived, if too short life. Taking care of others was an innate gift within her, along with a smile that wouldn't quit and a laugh that sounded like sunshine over Otsego Lake, her little slice of Heaven right here on Earth. We were all blessed to have her in our lives.
My eulogy:
I have always considered Naomi to be another big sister to me. She was present in my life almost as much as my real sisters; and she looked out for me almost as much as they did...or maybe even more, because I never fought with her like I did my real sisters.

The way Naomi looked out for me was particularly evident when I was 14. A lot of things happened that year, both good and bad. Among the good things was my creating a bedroom for myself in the basement, where I could have my own space. Among the bad were losing my grandfather and the family dog. Naomi was present both times. And she was quick to comfort me each time.

When my mother received the phone call informing her of her father's passing, I ran, crying, downstairs to my new, private room. Naomi quickly followed me. I don't remember her saying anything; but I could never forget her being there for me, leaving my sister upstairs even though she was my sister's best friend. She saw that I needed her more at that moment than my sister did; so she came to me, to console me, to take care of me.

Another time, when our dog was dying and my mother and sister had to hurry off to the veterinarian, Naomi shooed me downstairs, insisting I stay down there until she'd finished mopping up the mess my dog had left behind. I figured it was my responsibility to do the cleaning, or at least to help. After all, it was my house. But Naomi saw it differently. She saw it through the eyes of a true, big sister. She was determined to protect me.

Despite all the years between then and now, both of those events have gone through my head over and over again in the past few days. They were key moments in defining my relationship with Naomi.
As I tried to find words special enough to describe Naomi's place in my heart, two words kept over-riding all others: smiles and laughter. I could not stop thinking about the way she could smile through just about anything. When life got messy, she would smile, shrug and roll up her sleeves to get to work making it all better again.

She did have a way of making everything better. And I can't help but believe that's never going to stop. That's why the special words I was looking for prompted me to write a lighthearted poem about how lucky I have been for "My Other Big Sister."

I have a sister
Who is not my sister;
She does not share my genes.
Yet this sister
Is still my sister
By many other means.

She's smaller,
Both in size and stature;
But I still count her "big."
She is not a sister
For what she isn't;
But for rather what she is.

Just like my other,
Blood-born sisters,
She knew when to look out
For me, her younger,
"Little" sister,
When trouble came about.

She protected me.
She soothed my tears.
She sent me to my room,
When the family dog
Was ill and dying;
She took up mop and broom.

We never shouted,
Fought or argued,
Like sisters often do.
Nor do we have
a lot in common;
Yet I still hold it true,

That I have a sister
Who is not my sister;
And I hope she understands,
That she played a role
In my growing, knowing
I was always in good hands.

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