Diana with her grandson Vincent at the last gathering our family had before she died.
Christmas Angels are not Winged, Ethereal Beings. Some of them have been our friends or loved ones.
The Bird family has a tradition of placing an ornament on the Christmas Tree for all those loved ones who passed on. Our first ornament was an Angel for my sister-in-law, Diana.
Diana and her husband Paul worked for many years running a private Christian School. They would load kids up into a huge van and take trips to places of history. Our own children had the privilege of going to Colorado, South Dakota, Ohio, New York and all the states in between.
To raise the money, they made and sold apple cider, held bake sales and enlisted the children to do various jobs to keep expenses down in running the school.
This is only a small part of how Diana impacted everyone's life. She was a friendly and outgoing person who could strike up a conversation with just about anyone. She loved to do scrap-booking, quilting and family history.
As the oldest girl in a family of 6 boys and one sister, Diana learned to be responsible at a very early age. I never heard her complain about a lost childhood. Instead, Diana seemed to view everything as part of her service to God and was enjoying every minute of the experience.
If you were to call her in the middle of the night and tell her that your car was broken down, Diana would get in her van to come get you, no questions asked.
Diana loved to travel and had been to every state except possibly Alaska and Hawaii. When her daughter Michele, went to Taiwan to teach English, she took a trip over there too.
Life is not meant to be a "someday" event and Diana lived her life to the fullest. She embraced both her family and her friends with prayers and support. Her personal wealth was measured at her memorial service 4 years ago. Over two hundred people were in attendance and many individuals were eager to share a story or two about their own personal adventure with Diana.
Like our friend Susan, Diana passed away unexpectedly. It was a terrible shock to us all. She was a devoted wife, mother and grandmother. She was a teacher, friend and "big" sister. We loved her dearly and miss her terribly.
One of the last road trips that we took together found us going home on a two-lane highway. We passed a love seat that had fallen off of a pick-up. Diana pulled over to the side of the road and backed the van up to the fallen furniture. Without hesitation, she opened up the hatch of her mini-van and we lifted the love-seat into the back.
We didn't get to say goodbye to her in a traditional way. She had to leave so quickly, that we had to settle for a last kiss on her forehead or a squeeze of her hand. She knew that we all loved her, it was our loss that we couldn't extend that big hug of appreciation while she was still with us.
Paul chose the ornament because it was sitting on Diana's desk. She probably had another purpose for it in mind, but time ran out before she could give it away.
Diana was a gift to everyone that she met. She was much more than a decoration on the Christmas tree to our family.
She inspired all of us to do more for each other and not just once a year.
We all have a purpose in life, and some of us step up to the plate when God calls our name. Diana was one of those people.