Yesterday I was going through some photos looking for 'growing up' pictures of my baby girl for her wedding. This endeavor led me to a collection of photos that were my sisters. She was quite the photographer in her lifetime. Endlessly we would all pose, often times with aggrevation as she focused and clicked. I thought there may be some photos of Jennifer in there as she was often the subject.
As I was looking through them I came upon my sisters passport and a plane ticket. During her Junior year of high school she decided that she was going to graduate a year early. She worked very hard and accomplished that goal graduating in 1975 instead of 1976. Our cousins husband was serving in the Air Force in Germany at the time. Sherry wanted to go and visit so badly. She worked at Burger King as many hours as she could to acquire the needed funds. I remember so well the smell of Burger King burgers and food as she would get into the car each night when daddy and I would pick her up. Then the smell would permeate her room until the beautiful Burger King uniform was put into the laundry. I believe that the agreement with my parents was - earn the money and you can go. My sister was nothing if not determined and soon this was something else she had accomplished. I'm sure when they realized she had accomplished the goal they regretted those words in some ways. I mean, really, letting your daughter travel across the world on a plane by herself in 1975? I shudder at what they must have felt. She purchased her ticket and was soon on her way. I noticed the ticket cost close to $600.00, quite a sum 35 years ago.
Her plan was to be there for a short visit.
She lived there for 6 months.
She loved it. And I dearly loved getting the letters from her telling me about the beautiful places she visited, the people she met, and life around the base. She also kept me updated on my little second cousin Julie Michelle who my cousin named for me. I missed them all terribly. She would also send boxes filled with chocolate and something we didn't have here then - gummy bears. Yummy!
As I was looking at the passport photo I noticed that she had the biggest smile on her face - and so did I. How excited she must have been getting ready for that trip. Knowing she was going off into the unknown for the very first time in her life with wonders to see and adventures to be had. I feel that excitement whenever Big Daddy and I are off for a new adventure, even the small ones. I've always had an adventurous nature. How could I not going through life with a sister like Sherry? But it seems as though since her passing I have had more of a pressing need to see and explore more things more quickly. To take more time to look at the birds, the flowers, the butterflies and the trees and the mountanous wonders of this earth. They were after all put there for a reason.
Yesterday is the first time I have been able to look at things of my sisters and have actual joy in my heart, to truly smile.
Just like her trip to Germany so long ago she is after all just off on her own adventure for the first time. I'm not there now but some day I will follow. I don't get boxes of gifts or chocolate. All I need to do is look for the gifts in the nature of the world. The flutter of the butterfly's wings, that special rainbow, the beautiful song of a cardinal or the bloom of a special flower. Our loved ones are around us every single moment. All we have to do is take the time to become aware of the gifts that they send us. Believe me, if you look, they are there...