My Sister Melissa

Here’s a photo from a couple of years ago of my youngest (of three) sister, Melissa. This was at Seaside, near where our father lived. I had taken her son, Fergus, out, on rented boards (soft-tops; quite embarrassing) on a previous visit, she and her husband, Jerome, coming from Illinois, Fergus from Seattle. On this trip the fun seemed too much, and she and Jerome just had to also surf.


Quite competitive. Quite a bit of fun. The last time, before this, Melissa and I surfed together was at Swamis, 1975, or so, when Trish and I lived in Encinitas. After the session, she asked, “So, now are we going to lay out?” “What? No. I don’t lay out. No. There’s things to do.”

Here is what my sister does. This is a drawing she did at my request, illustration for a short story. And, as with too many things, she sort of worried too much about it. “Just draw it.” “But, what about…?” “It’ll be great.” “You sure?” “Positive.”



The second drawing… I’m trying to remember; I don’t think it was for me. In pulling it up on the computer, I’m stunned, amazed even, by Melissa’s ability to capture the… I mean, look at the feet, the hands. Never really go for skeletons.

But, here’s the thing: I got a group text yesterday afternoon from another sister, Mary Jane, that Melissa, who has been battling a variety of cancers, is in the hospital. “…The Doctors are talking about radiation to her brain. Please keep her in your prayers.”

Now, this is one of those weeks where Trish talked me into going to Mass. Yeah, there are a lot of issues not worth going into on how we’re both converts, about what we do and don’t believe, about how one goes from bad Seventh Day Adventist to bad Catholic (this is me, not Trish), but, with the ringer off, and the phone there mostly so I could check the time (and maybe what the buoys were doing), just waiting for the Saturday Evening Mass to begin was, probably, an odd time to get this kind of news.

Prayer. Prayer? Trish, who has her own prayer chain (yeah, I’m on it, whatever vehicle I’m driving is also on it), when I asked, “What; am I going to change God’s mind?” said, “It’s not like that.” “Do I make a deal with God? Trade out? Trade out for what?”

Bear in mind, I have, possibly more than once, prayed it would stop raining so I could finish a paint job. And it worked. Maybe a day later, but…  I made a deal with God, several times. I should say I offered a deal.  Payment plan.

So far, battered and a bit beaten up, I’ve survived. What remains intact is a certain level of faith that there is some mysterious something that we cannot understand. Someone (on TV) ridiculed those who believe there could be an entity that hears the quiet moanings, maybe it was ‘murmurings,’ of individuals among the millions of people, the silent whisperings, the unspoken wishes. Prayers.


Here’s another drawing from Melissa. There’s a wave drawing as part of it that is mine; the girl on the beach is from a photograph of her as a young girl. It’s an illustration for a play. I never really got it. Too abstract, maybe; but now I’m studying it while I think what I can say or do to help.

Very little, really. But, if you have a prayer list, if you are someone who sends prayers and murmurings out into what we don’t at all understand except that it’s not a void, please include my sister, Melissa.

Oh, just checking this over (it’s Sunday, I should be in Sequim, painting), I got a text from Mary Jane saying our sister is ‘feeling better and eating better.’ Wow, that was quick.


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