Here I am, sitting in the Longmont, CO hospital, while my sister sleeps. Joan Bochmann, bearing up under yet another assault on her body, keeps on demonstrating her faith, courage, and grace as we await the results of tests to define the extent and seriousness of a blockage (another growing tumor?) in her GI track. She endures the pain and discomfort, confusion and debilitation that her illness slams brings with dignity—and expressed concern for those of her family and friends that surround her.
Joan is not only my sister, but my lifelong hero and role model. She was seven when I was born. It's easy to love a baby, and she did, but she has also loved me unconditionally ever since. She has taught me so much by example, by listening, sharing, and by just being the honorable person she is—never judging or condemning me, no matter what choices I made in my life.
She instilled in me, among other things, a love for books, stories, words, and writing. I remember some of the novels she read to me, beginning when I was too young to read for myself. Ralph Moody, Felix Salten, Mary Mapes Dodge (Hans Brinker and the Golden Skates) Dean Marshal (The Silver Robin). She introduced me to books about Cherry Ames, Student Nurse, Gene Stratton Porter's The Girl of the Limberlost, Freckles, and others. There were other books of which I remember small details but, don't know the title or author.
I'm so glad we didn't have TV when I was little. We never would have spent the hours in story-telling games, if we had. Joan led us, my brother, Duane, and I in taking turns making up stories for each other. Joan's were always the best, the longest, and most exciting. The ones I remember involved horses that were not only extraordinarily beautiful, but so smart and intuitive that they saved their riders from howling blizzards, raging rivers, and attacking bears or lions, and taking their riders safely home when they were hopelessly lost in a a dangerous wilderness.
For many of our adult years, marriages and circumstances put miles between us,physically, but nothing could dim the love and admiration I have for her. In recent years, our love for books and writing have again drawn us together. Although I've written a greater number of books than she has, I believe she is the better writer. Her book, Absaroka, is amazing, and her several essays, short stories, and poetry, even the little exercises we do together and the word games we play, show her talent. She has three books started, which beg to be continued because they are of such human interest. Until she has the strength to do it on her own, we can perhaps work together to develop them more fully.
Why do I want to help her write these books? Why am I glad that she is giftng me the file drawer full of stories and book beginnings that she has written over the years. Not just so that I can keep Joan close to me in whatever is left of my life, but so I can share he beauty and wisdom through her writing with the world.
Joan, my light and joy, my peace and comfort, my sister and friend, my inspiration and motivation for writing and writing well. And for living well. You are still my hero.