They were 32 and 13 when I came along. Young in age yet mature in wisdom…probably because my mom and sister were no strangers to suffering.
Mom was the youngest of four, born after her family immigrated from Sweden. She endured an alcoholic father who drank away his paycheck. Her mom supported the family scrubbing floors and taking in ironing. Mom lived through two world wars and a major depression. She never owned a doll or had a birthday party. There were no Christmas presents or vacations to brighten up her life.
Until she accepted Jesus, it was all about making it through another day. She eloped with my dad at 18, and moved into their family home to care for his little brothers and sisters. My dad became her provider and protector. God blessed her with everything she never had before.
Lorraine was their first child who nearly died when she was three. Pregnant with my brother, Mom endured the reality that Lorraine might not survive. But recover she did. As the older child, Lorraine had to grow up fast. She was assigned to wait in bread lines during the depression.She was given responsibilities beyond her abilities. Facing the realities of a staggering economy forced a young girl to mature quickly.
After the war, I was born…the caboose of the family. A baby boomer! Lorraine became my second mom, doting on me like her very own live baby doll. I grew up cherished. Deserving or not, I was the recipient of love and security. It hovered all around me.
Mom and Lorraine shaped my life. They showed me what a godly woman looked like. Church, Bible reading and prayer were priorities. I was put to bed with Bible stories and sung to sleep with Christian choruses. Mom and Lorraine made sure I knew that Jesus Christ was the Way, the Truth and the Life. And their prayers have covered me my entire life.
My mom and sister were real ladies who taught me to care about my appearance. They are the reason I can’t go to the mailbox without makeup. They are the reason I have to fix my hair before anyone sees me. Call it vanity if you wish, but neither of them ever went to the store in those foam-rubber hair rollers so popular back then. We dressed up for church and never wore a wrinkled dress or unpolished shoes. We never wore white before Memorial Day or patent leather in the fall. We were proper in every way. Not prideful. It was just important to them that we look our best. It’s just the way they were.
We lost our mom in 2006 but I never imagined losing Lorraine so soon. Just last week the Lord took her home. I wasn’t ready to let her go. And I’m adjusting to life without my big sister. Now neither of these women is by my side any more. Yet their influence is still with me. I am who I am because of them.
Honestly, my sister was nearly perfect. She listened well. She cared with heartfelt concern. She felt my joy like no one else. Lorraine knew what was wrong from the tone of my voice. And she thought I was the next best thing to sliced bread. And I thought the same of her.
No one can replace who these women were to me. Their influence remains even though they’re gone. I understand why the Bible says older women should train the younger women. Now that I’m not the younger woman any more, I have a responsibility to the younger gals in my life. I only hope I will be to them what Lorraine and Helga were to me.