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I’m Dewey’s youngest sister.” These words of introduction hold unique poignancy for me. I’ve not been able to say them in a long time. My brother died an unexpectedly early and quick death from pancreatic cancer nearly six years ago.  At one Thanksgiving collection of out-of-state family members he was there, at the next he was not.

Two days ago, his wife celebrated a milestone birthday. There was an Open House. Many of their friends came. I did not know them.  Thus my introductory greeting.

On our several-hour drive home, my words washed up into my consciousness: “I’m Dewey’s youngest sister.” Yes, indeed. I choked up.  I miss him.

Dewey was 11 when I was born. The story is that he went around to the neighbors saying, “It’s another girl.”  As if having three sisters already was enough of a doll, dress, and hair ribbon burden.

Sixty-three years later, when I spent my last few minutes alone with him the Sunday afternoon before he died, I asked: “Do you have anything else you’d like to tell me before I leave?” Speaking about what’s most important in life, he pushed out his final few words between short labored breaths: “…it’s being loved and surrounded by family that counts.”

And that’s what I experienced two days ago. I felt honored and blessed to have been able to say, “I’m Dewey’s youngest sister.” He will long be remembered in philosophy circles. Want to take a graduate course in religious epistemology? You may be assigned to read his publications.

But, for me, I’m just grateful to have been his baby sister and that he gave to me a fourth sister that just had the birthday. And for their children who got us all together.

“…it’s being loved and surrounded by family that counts.”

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