Tuesday, June 14, 2011

SALLY ANN WILSON: She Knows Where She’s Going, Because She Knows Where She Has Been!

     First of all, I want to thank so many of you folks who responded to prayer request concerning my sister Sally Ann Wilson, who has been battling cancer for over a year and her condition turned worse the other day. I personally believe (due to preliminary reports I received late Saturday night), that her condition worsened and it looked like she was leaving us.
    Therefore, I rushed down to my hometown of Indio, California yesterday morning (Monday) to hopefully see her one more time.
     As I arrived at the hospital, carrying my Bible and prepared to even administer ‘last rites,’ I was stunned as I walked into her room and there she sat, upright, with a straw in a glass of water, as the nurse instructed to her to gulp the water slowly. I say stunned because as she looked towards me with a big smile on her face, I couldn’t take my eyes off her face which appeared to be glowing with beautiful hues of pink, brown and a rosiness on her cheeks that totally contradicts the look one would expect from a person who doctors had said hours earlier that the family should begin making last minute ‘preparations.”
     As I sat down next to her bed, she immediately said, “Hey big brother, I heard you have not been feeling well lately.”
     “What?” I mused to myself. “Here I come, the unofficial ‘priest’ of the family, prepared to console and impart the word of God to a woman who I was told was barely hanging by a thread, and she asks about my health!
     But, then, that is the Sally Ann I have known for over 63 years, the one member in the family that has always greeted each and every one of us with a big smile, always with warm greetings and friendly salutation.
     I asked her how she was feeling and she said she was fine, that she was going home on Wednesday and would be under-going more radiation treatment on the fast spreading cancer that has grown into her neck, which she said does make it hard for her to swallow food and water. I looked at her nurse, Shannon, with a quizzical look on my face as if to say, “I heard her condition had turned for the worse,” but that’s not what I see on my sister’s face.” Shannon smiled back as if to say that Sally Ann came in the night before in a very serious condition and the doctors were not optimistic at all. But, here my sister is looking better than the last time I saw her back in December of 2010. Could it be that God had immediately answered the prayers of all of those folks on Facebook whom I asked to pray for Sally Ann?
     I began to tell her that many family members were also on the way to see her and suddenly a slight scowl came to her radiating face as if to say, “Please, family, just let me get some rest; I don’t need a houseful of people doting on me, I’m fine!”
     We spent another 45 minutes talking about the family, trying to remember family birthdays, when other members of the family had passed away, such as our father, our youngest brother Robin, our sister Diane (who also died of cancer in 2001) and most of all our mother Sally (her namesake) who passed away in February 2008. 
     We also talked about her son Nicholas, who at 19 years of age was injured in a car crash in 2001, left immobile and wheel chair-bound for the rest of his life. Nick was hardcore into gangs then, but was rescued in a unique fashion few can understand. The doctors had told Sally Ann that Nick was going to be totally paralyzed from the neck down and she immediately said, “No way.” She and her other sons Jason and Garry have nurtured Nick with exercise and therapy and he is more mobile than anyone ever expected. In addition to holding a regular job managing a business machine store, and also opening up her dream taco shop she calls “Peppers” in Cole Camp, Missouri during the summer time, Sally Ann has devoted her life to eventually having her son Nick pick up his pallet and walk.
     That’s the kind of person Sally Ann has been throughout her entire life. Always putting other people first, always shunning offers of help and assistance in her personal affairs. Life has not been a bed of roses for Sally Ann. Like so many others, she has experienced broken marriages and other normal disappointments in life. She never complains. But, it has always been about helping others before herself. Unlike so many who wear their religion on their sleeves (like I have rightly been accused) Sally Ann displayed hers by her actions.
     Right before I left the hospital, being the detailed and always planning type of guy that I am, I asked her if she needed any help with anything and she said no, everything has been taken care, she meaning funeral arrangements, and all of her legal matters have been taken care of.  Then, being the theology-minded person that I am, I asked her if she had any Bible questions, and she smiled back and said, with a big grin on her face, “Hey, me and God are OK and we have resolved all of our issues. I know where I’m going, big brother, because I know where I have been.”
     I blew a kiss towards her as I turned away to leave; I didn’t want her to see me crying, not knowing if my tears were tears of joy because I knew where she was going once she passes away, or sadness that I may not be close by to kiss her one last time before she goes.
     Her statement reminded me of the song by that same name which was recorded by Queen Latifah, which she sang in the film Hair Spray. I began humming that beautiful song as I got into my car to drive back to Redlands. I kept humming the song all the way home, as the tears continued to roll down my cheeks.


  1. Beautifully and lovingly written, dear friend. One day soon, we will get to meet Sally Ann, Joe. We'll know her by that big smile. Love you! -- Sharon

  2. God bless Sally Ann and all of her loving loved ones - what a family! One of the greatest things about Heaven is that we get to see our dear ones, who chose eternal life, forever and forever! Thanks, Joe, for the beautiful snapshot of your precious family!