This brief tribute to my sister is long overdue. Her name is Beverly (Bev for short) and not only is she a kindred cat whisperer, she's a caring person who is sometimes one of the last people local soldiers see before they deploy to Iraq or Afganistan. She works at the VFW in her town and is close to the base from which they deploy. Soliders gather at the "V", as she calls it, to be with friends and receive support, good wishes, and prayers for their journey. Bev tells stories that melt the heart, but I don't think she realizes what a difference she's making in their lives.
For years my sister has helped feed the soldiers and veterans. She's cooked for them, prayed with them, and cried with them. Bev has been known to cook elaborate holiday dinners and offer them free of charge to anyone who wanted to partake. When she hears of a soldier's family in need, she helps organize benefits to generate funds for that family.
She's a good friend to the young inexperienced soldiers and a confidant to the seasoned veterans. Early last year a soldier and his buddies came into the VFW for fellowship and meals before their departure to Iraq. At the end of the evening, when they were saying their last goodbyes, Bev offered them a small blanket to take along, as a remembrance and token of her appreciation for their service to our country. She had wanted to give them something and could think of nothing else at that moment. They gladly took the blanket, gave her hugs, and said they'd see her later. She was thrilled when every one of "her" soldiers returned home safely - and humbled when they arrived at the VFW as a group to present the blanket back to her. Each one had his photo taken with it while in Iraq. As it was handed to her, she was admonished to keep it in a safe place since it had been their good luck charm. She had tears and so did they.
Bev is an expert finder of four leaf clovers and gave one to a departing soldier some time ago. Last week he returned from duty unharmed, walked into the VFW, and presented my sister with the four leaf clover she had first given him. He told her he had carried it in his pocket every single day he was there and said it had been his good luck charm.
I could recount many stories of such things but Bev is humble about what she does and would think I was bragging about her. She wouldn't want that. I was barely able to convince her to accept a check from a local radio station this Christmas. The station held a contest and asked for stories of deserving people who might be helped by receiving extra funds for the holidays. I thought that was an excellent opportunity to write and tell someone what Bev does for others. The station managers and sponsors thought my sister was very deserving and issued her a check to help pay for food for her soldiers and her cats. They said she was an excellent example of "paying it forward" and I wholeheartedly agreed. Bev seemed stunned at the revelation, but I was not surprised. She's my lucky charm.