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dsc00499.jpgCarol Jordan Wilkinson


My oldest sister, Carol Wilkinson, died suddenly on March 26, 2007 at the age of sixty-nine. Many of the folks at First Apostolic Church did not know her because she lived nearly 600 miles away, in Union City, Tennessee, and didn’t get to travel often. After her husband’s retirement in 2005, he suffered heart problems and had a knee replacement. It was only this spring that he was able to start enjoying his retired status. They planned an Easter vacation back north, but Carol left us two weeks before the trip. Besides her husband, she left two sons, a daughter, and seven grandchildren.

For the last two years, Carol served as my Mother’s primary care-giver. Since the rest of us were—-and still are—-immersed one hundred per cent in our ministries, she was the only one who could provide a home for my Mother and she watched over her 24/7. We knew that this was a huge task and we were extremely grateful. But circumstances aside, Carol wanted to take care of Mother. She had a special relationship with her since she was the first child born to my Mother and Father after their very first baby, Marion, died at ten months old with diphtheria.

At her home-going service, the family asked me to represent them. Even though our church in Toledo did not know her well, I still want to share the following reflections with you that I gave there.

Well, son, I’ll tell you:

Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

It’s had tacks in it,

And splinters,

And boards torn up,

And places with no carpet on the floor—


But all the time

I’se been a-climbin’ on,

And reachin’ landin’s,

And turnin’ corners,

And sometimes goin’ in the dark

Where there ain’t been no light.

So, boy, don’t you turn back.

Don’t you set down on the steps.

‘Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.

Don’t you fall now—

For I’se still goin’, honey,

I’se still climbin’, And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

(Langston Hughes)

My sister, Carol, taught me this poem when I was about four years old. This is one of our family’s most poignant memories of her, certainly it is of mine.

Carol Wilkinson was born a star. She was the first grandchild in the Anderson family, after the death of Marion Rose, and the oldest in our immediate family. But she really was a star, an undiscovered talent. She was dramatic, musical and artsy. She had a flare for style and décor, and knew, among many other things, how to make a Christmas present look like a million dollars.

Carol was always beautiful in whatever she wore, however she fixed her hair and whatever age she happened to be in any given year. She turned heads whether her hair was black, mixed gray or pure white. She had an off-beat sense of humor and often laughed at well-crafted words, phrases and delicious irony. While she was intellectual and had wide-spread interests, she was also folksy and down-to-earth.

In terms of her attitude, Carol was always non-judgmental, always willing to hear the other person’s point of view.  She was largely self-deprecating, and quite self-conscious…at least as an adult. As a rather precocious child, however, she did like the spotlight. When she was about six, she declined to sing a solo in church. “Why won’t you sing, Carol?” “Because, there’re not enough people here!” she replied.

In church, Carol always got involved, usually in the music area, but also in leadership. Deeply spiritual and often engaged in prayer, she had a special relationship with God. She was used of God in the gifts of the Spirit and loved good preaching and solid Bible teaching. Loving and forgiving, she made everyone feel like they were a unique gift of God. Her family, of course, was at the top of her list.

Jim, we thank you for loving Carol. You came into her life at a difficult time and gave her meaning and direction. She loved you very much. The family is also very grateful to Carol for taking care of our mother for the last two years. When she was called upon, she did her duty with faithfulness and love.

To her family, Todd, Andrea and David, today may seem like a surreal moment…but, reality often comes disguised as a dream. As the days beyond this day stretch out into the weeks and months ahead, however, you will embrace a greater reality…the reality of an eternal future. She’s there now, with Daddy and Terry, waiting…

One final note…When my mother-in-law, Vera Kinzie passed away, Carol emailed me this response:

Dear Mark,

Sis Kinzie will be deeply mourned by us. We may not have been around her much in the past years since moving here but we loved and respected her. She truly was a great lady and woman of God who is now gathered up in the arms of her creator and Lord whom she served so diligently through her lifetime. I wish part of her spirit of service could be transferred somehow to me.

Love to all the family,

             Carol and Jim

I find myself waiting for another email from her. I loved you, Carol. I didn’t tell you enough.

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Reader Comments (1)

After a couple of months have passed since Carol's death, and after hearing you read this eulogy at her funeral,then reading it on my own more than a couple times, today I read it again. I felt the sharp pain of losing her to death, afresh. Perhaps this was the greatest tribute anyone had ever given to her! You did it so eloquently!

June 6, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJenny Teets

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