She has always been there. My “big” sister, Velma. I call her big, not because she is physically bigger than me. In fact, I think she is a little smaller. But she was my oldest sibling and calling her “big” sister is probably better than calling her my “old” sister.
Velma was the oldest of four children and I was the youngest. My parents told me from the moment of my birth, Velma felt that I was “her” little doll to play with and take care of. They told me when I was only a few weeks old the whole family decided to go berry picking. They packed the car with a picnic basket and Mom went into the house to get me out of my crib. But I was not there.
A little panicked, my mother looked out the front door to see Velma carrying me to the car. Stepping over the ditch by the driveway, she slipped and dropped me. I was not hurt but the family often joked “that explains a lot about Barbara.” Dropped on my head.
In the days before automatic washers and dryers, microwave ovens and all the conveniences we enjoy now, my mother had her hands full keeping up with the house work and taking care of us. Velma stepped right in to help. So when it was time to go to church or any other event where I needed to look my best, it was often Velma who helped me get dressed, fixed my hair, made sure I had brushed my teeth.
Velma took home economics in high school and became a very proficient seamstress. Her senior year she made us matching dresses. The school had a fashion show for the students to show off their sewing talents. Velma was asked to include her “little” sister in the show. Although that was years ago, I still remember how excited I was to be in a fashion show with all the “big” kids. Velma and I practiced over and over in our kitchen how I was to walk on stage, turn around slowly and walk off stage. The night of the fashion show I think I was the hit – a little girl with red banana curls! I will always remember the pride my sister had in me – gave me confidence I needed.
Velma not only took care of many of my physical needs, she was concerned about my spiritual need also. I had a Bible storybook that I had read over and over. I loved reading about Joshua, Gideon and David and I loved the stories of the Old Testament prophets. That bible story book was my first introduction to the wonderful stories about Jesus. The book is worn out, but I still have it sitting on a shelf in my study. Over the years I have moved a lot and do not have anything from my childhood but that book. I still treasure it.
However, for my seventh birthday Velma thought it was time I graduated to a “real” Bible so she bought me my first one. She also got me some new pajamas. I was so proud of both gifts that I insisted I wear the pajamas and she take a picture of me in them with that Bible. Although that Bible was the King James version (in the days before all our new translations) and hard for a seven-year-old to understand, Velma encouraged me to
Just keep reading. The more you read it, the more you will understand. Ask God to help you.
So I did. Perhaps the fact that I read the King James Bible faithfully instead of the “See Spot Run” books is why I became not only an excellent reader, but a very fast reader.
She was my role model. As a young girl I was in the Sunday School class she taught for young girls. I still remember the navy blue dress she wore with a white-collar. Her shoes were navy, red and white. I thought she was so sophisticated in that outfit. When I got my first job I bought myself a pair of navy, red and white shoes and purse. I watched her style of teaching – and I have patterned my own Bible teaching after her. People say I am able to present great truths of the Bible in a simple way that a child could understand. If that is true, I owe that to Velma.
I recently visited my sister and her family. Got to me thinking. I will be 70 in April – and my sisters are the only ones who share all my history with me. They are the only ones who remember my banana curls, my playing and singing “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands”, and much much more of my history. They are the only ones who share so much history with me.
My “big” sister has never had the joy of having a “big” sister, but I hope being her “little” sister has been a blessing to her as she has been to me.
Sis, if you read this, I LOVE YOU!