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I was shocked! The newlyweds had been married only a month and yet they were inviting me to come visit them at their new home in Illinois. I adored my older brother and was eager to spend more time with my new sister-in-law, so I jumped at the opportunity.
Only days after graduating high school, I left Seattle to join them in Peoria. Little did I know this would be the first of many summer trips I would take to their home over the following seven years. We grew to be good friends because of our visits together and I came to cherish their role in my life. I realize now that through our daily conversation and by being allowed to witness the life they were building together, they were mentoring me.
Over the course of those seven years, we took a few sightseeing trips. One trip to Petersburg, Illinois holds a special memory for me. My sister-in-law's mother, sister, and family friend, all from our home town of Seattle, drove out to visit her while I was also in town. We ladies took a day trip to see the New Salem Historic Site where Abraham Lincoln had spent his early adult years. We had one truck and five passengers, so the family friend and I sat in the bed of the truck under the canopy for the 3-hour trip. The heart-to-heart conversation we shared during those few hours remains a special memory that I hold very dear and one that she (now quite elderly) and I still reminisce.
Over the years, I have been blessed to know a number of Godly women from whom I have gleaned pearls of wisdom about the trials and blessings of motherhood and marriage. More than what they had to say, it was their example, the manner in which they interacted with others, that had the most impact upon me. I learned not to underestimate the power of one's words and the importance of time shared with another. The memories I have of my trips back to see my family, particularly the conversations we shared, will always be dear to me and helped shape me into the person I am today.
Yesterday morning, my sister-in-law's mother, one of my traveling partners and mentors, passed away. As I reflect upon the blessing this woman has been to so many like me, I am reminded yet again that, while my body is not eternal, the impact of my words, actions and prayers can be shaping individuals in ways unknown to me.