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Our sisterhood started early. A blessed and deep journey like a growing

forest of trees, dense moss, wild mushrooms, and flowers, along with a

variety of wildlife and soaring eagles. Like an emerging forest, we too

expanded deep inside our sisterhood, where we laughed, cried, reflected,

changed directions, and even endured challenges. We made a vow that, no

matter how challenging it got, we would always be there for each other and

let nothing stand in the way of our bond. A vow we valued. A vow we kept.

On August 9, 2023, Barbara unexpectedly passed. Life zapped out of me,

leaving a hollowness. Memories don’t fill the emptiness. Maybe later, they


I frequently revisit the beginning of our strong sisterhood, realizing it

started very early in our life journey. Barbara, age six, and I age two,

shared a bedroom, a full-size bed, a closet, a dresser, one large window to

view the open field for miles, and a variety of scattered trees. We shared

the same sun, moon, stars, and Godmother.

Despite all this sharing, Barbara had her own agenda. And here I share

a few of her experiences with you, our journal friends. During high school,

she was a volunteer candy striper at Brooks Memorial Hospital. In her first

year of college, she spent the summer in Mexico, volunteering at an


When Barbara was working on her graduate studies in Washington, D.C.,

her week-ends consisted of driving six hours after Friday’s classes to

Pittsburgh, PA to stay with our widowed, maternal grandmother. Barbara

took her shopping, to the cemetery to visit our late maternal grandfather, to

the 5 & 10 store, and they watched the late-night news together. Butterflies.

A few years back, Barbara started a fairly large butterfly garden.

These events represent just an itty-bitty speck of Barbara’s numerous

subtle philanthropic acts for society, future generations, and Mother Earth.

What drove her to this was the example set by our family.

Barbara and I, frequently shared how blessed we were to have been

exposed on our maternal side to a strong sisterhood. Mom, Aunt Adele,

and Aunt Alice were all sisters who loved us dearly. They were women who

broke through the glass ceiling in the 1960s. They were children who lived

in a small wooden row house, sharing clothes, beds, and school books,

while managing to excel in school, graduate, and pursue their education.

Their sisterhood held strong through the Depression, and limited income.

They became our role models. Barbara and I recognized that their

upbringing didn’t harden them - it uplifted them. We learned by watching

their empathy, subtle charitable acts, and demonstration of class and


Barbara clearly emulated these strong women and embodied all

they taught.

I find my sister in my thoughts every day, during every show, waiting for

her to return from her rounds. Photo Gifted from Annette Rilling

Warmly, Grace


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