Lessons from My Sister-in-law


Cliff’s sister Pat died in June of heart failure brought on by complications of diabetes. The disease took her eyesight almost twenty years ago. I spoke briefly at her funeral and highlighted the lessons Pat taught me as I watched her handle the tremendous grief of losing her vision. Here they are!

  • The world is still yours. Pat stayed engaged in the larger world even as her own world became smaller. Politics, a local basketball team, a new social trend. She kept up with it all and had plenty to say about the state of things.
  • Laugh. Pat never lost her sense of humor. Never. Through happy times like going to guide dog school to  scary and painful times like hospitalizations, she always had a clever comment or  a joke to crack related to her experiences. Wit prevailed, which put all of us at ease and brought levity to tough days.
  • Love. Pat was always, always, always, interested in us. She never became self-focused or self-absorbed. Her nieces and nephew, my writing, our travels–she wanted to hear the latest news of our lives and listened with enthusiasm.

My love to her daughter Crystal, who as a young woman spent years taking care of her mom. It’s time for Crystal to really fly, and I suspect she’ll take Pat’s lessons with her as she goes.

Photo: Pat posed with daughter Kath on our front porch two days before Kath’s wedding in 2007. Pat’s guide dog Boo was an honored guest at the wedding and almost stole the show from the bride.

10 thoughts on “Lessons from My Sister-in-law”

  1. Those are very valuable life lessons. I’m sorry I didn’t get to know Pat. She sounded like a special lady. Good post!

  2. This is a beautiful sentiment and post. As we get older, we face many health challenges, some extremely difficult. They are often life challenging, if not life-threatening. To hear of your loved one’s courage and strength in facing the adversities she encountered over many, many years is heart-warming, and extremely optimistic. It provides a guiding, energy-filled perspective for many of us!

  3. Some people handle unfortunate difficulties with admirable courage and grace. A wonderful example for us all. So sorry for your loss.

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