D'Lynne, between Charlotte and me at a family reunion in 1997, and dancing with her big brother in 1960.

Midlife Moments'

Midlifer of the Week

D'Lynne Bellah Stone

My Sister, My Advocate

by Mike Bellah

  Webster defines an advocate as one who defends another before a judge or tribunal. If you have an advocate, he or she is purposefully partial. They are firmly on your side. 

Most of us will not appear before a judge and jury at midlife, but I'm convinced we all will need an advocate. As we face life's normal failures and setbacks, we need at least one person who will take our side, who will believe in us and defend us no matter what. I've been fortunate to have several midlife advocates, but the most ardent has come from a source I never expected: my sister, D'Lynne.

D'Lynne has every reason not to be on my side at midlife. As a child, I made her life miserable. My parents had three boys before D'Lynne (I was the youngest), and on the day she was born, my dad sent flowers to both my mother and the doctor.

Mom and Dad Bellah had finally received the little girl they could dress in frills and lace, and I had been supplanted as the baby of the family. D'Lynne was now the designated spoilee, and I was her self-designated tormentor, engaged in a one-boy vendetta to make sure she paid for her favored status. I was good at it (no girl endured more teasing by her brother), yet she didn't seem to suffer much. As a teen-ager, she was as popular and pretty as I was rebellious and unhappy. Then something happened that changed all that.

When I was 17, D'Lynne and I both worked at a Christian youth camp, where I found that I liked myself better when I helped people rather than hurting them, where D'Lynne found that immaterial things could satisfy her more than boyfriends and clothes, and where both of us found a new friend in each other. We became partners and confidants, sharing our deepest secrets and most cherished dreams. 

As an adult, the harder part of life caught up with D'Lynne. From a child born with a birth defect, to a teen-ager who ran away from home, to a best friend who died suddenly of a heart attack at 42, D'Lynne has seen more than her share of suffering. Like Rabbi Kushner, I'm not sure why God lets so many bad things happen to such good people, but I do know this: Most of them come out even better for it, and, at midlife, my little sister is a saint.

She is the one her friends call when they have a crisis; her husband and children know that they can never do anything that will end her love for them; and her brother Mike has learned that she is the best one to call when life turns hard.

When I suffer defeats, she reminds me that the race isn't over yet. When others are upset with me, she takes my side. And when I get upset with myself, she restores my faith in me. Most importantly, she still shares my secrets and dreams. I feel safe with her.

As I write these words, I expect that many of you are identifying your own midlife advocate, the one who has always been on your side. Have you told that person lately how much you love and appreciate them? Maybe this week you'll get a chance.

And since I'm not sure I have done so, I will now: I love you Sis.

I wrote this column in 1997. My beloved sister D'lynne passed away in September of 2003 after a hard but brief struggle with lung cancer. Here is her obituary, and a few lines that I read at the funeral, and a piece I wrote for her first birthday in heaven. She is missed greatly.

My Articles about Hidden Falls Ranch (and its people)

Christmas in July
It's Her One Time Around
Happy 30th Anniversary
Lost in the Palo Duro
Memories of Summer Camp
My Sister, My Advocate
To Uncle John and Aunt Betty: A Tribute
Hidden Falls Ranch: A 40th Anniversary Tribute

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