Earlier this month my older sister, Paula Kay Carmichael, passed away. We thought it was amusing that we each married Carmichael men. My husband was born in Scotland, hers in Arkansas, but they had to be distant cousins since the Carmichael clan is originally from Scotland. I always told my children that their cousins Robby and Jonathan are double-cousins.
Paula grew up as Paula Lynch, although she had a different father from me and my younger sisters. I looked up to her so very much. I remember crying when she sewed me a dress without a pattern–and I hadn’t asked for it; she gave it to me from the love in her heart.
She was well known as an incredible artist as well as a hugely talented musician. She had her own TV show on her local public broadcast channel, and she sang and performed at many events, both locally and statewide.
It was during one of these performances that Jody Carmichael saw her and, from what I heard, decided she was the one woman for him. It didn’t take him too long to make it so and they were married for over fifty years. They had two sons, both of whom are wonderful fathers and men, and had careers in law enforcement.
Sadly, tragedy struck when Paula was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s and dementia. Her biological father died from the same diseases. For many years now, Paula has resided in an Alzheimer’s facility. Recently she came down with Covid-19 shortly before she was scheduled to receive a vaccine. My sisters and I were all thrilled when we were told she’d defeated the virus and had now tested negative for it. What we hadn’t realized was the damage that was done to her heart.
It was too much for her frail body and mind. It’s with a broken heart of my own that I report she lost her battle and passed away on February 6th. I couldn’t talk about it for days and weeks, but now I’m ready to share my loss with you. I’m reassured, though, by faith that before too long we will all be reunited.
There is no way to easily deal with the loss of a loved one. Paula was the eldest of five sisters. My youngest sister recently wrote, “Each of us are like a five-piece puzzle and it’s hard not to have the first piece. She knew how much we loved her and I know she is at peace in heaven with Mom.”
Even though it’s been many years since Paula lost her memory of our past, she knew we loved her. And that’s the best gift she could have given us. You see, we remain a five-piece puzzle.