October 4, 2016 10:17 pm Published by 10 Comments



Carmilla in 1990 with five of her grandchildren Stacey (5), Justin (3), Sarah (1), D. J. (4) and Amanda (5)

I wasn’t expecting to write this particular blog so soon. I suppose I knew it was coming, sometime, but it crept up on me when I wasn’t looking. Life is like that, friends. Won’t you agree? Life is like that, and so is death.

My sister Carmilla had been declining steadily for a while, probably longer than we knew. Perhaps we ignored signs that were there, or perhaps Carmilla was good at hiding them. That no longer matters. She died Monday evening. It might have been the dementia she was experiencing, or her diabetes, or something else, but she passed out of her pain and confusion and blindness, and into the everlasting light of God.


The Jones Sisters, from right to left: Mary, Grace, Carmilla, Kathryn and Arloween

I am one of six sisters. In years past we lost two sisters by accidents, Martha May, the third oldest, when she was just a child of five, and Arloween, the oldest, as a young adult. But those losses were a long time ago. Carmilla was the first of us surviving sisters to reach the end of her life more naturally. Although she is no longer suffering, it is still a shock.

Her passing, however, has had me thinking. My mind has been filled with memories today of our childhood and adult lives. Carmilla’s life wasn’t easy. She had four children with her husband, and she was a devoted mother and wife. You could easily say she was faithful. Nobody is perfect, and Carmilla could hold a grudge with the best of them, but nobody was prepared when her husband up and left her and the children. I think this broke her heart more than anyone could really know. She had expected that marriage to last forever, as a marriage is supposed to.


Four of us, a bit younger, about 1942, R-L: Arloween, Grace, Kathryn and Carmilla

The children, however, wouldn’t wait for her grief. She picked up her burdens, all four of them, and continued on. She was a dedicated mother, and loved her children with all she had. She remained faithful to them, and did whatever she had to do to keep them fed and clothed and nurtured.

Somewhere in here I began my linguistics ministry, first in Mexico, and then in Papua New Guinea. Struggling as she was, Carmilla managed to find $10 a month to send me. Of all the support pledges I received over my decades as a missionary, hers was the smallest monthly amount I got. But she sent it every month, month after month. My records go back to about 1970. Her small gift came in in that fashion for every month through the 70’s, the 80’s, the 90’s, the 00’s, and up until this month.


Various family members, aprox 1975. My father, Clarence Jones is on the left. Carmilla is holding one of her nephews on the far right.

Carmilla surely thought her little bit was hardly worth sending, but I am here to tell you otherwise. Like the widow in Mark 12:41-44, Carmilla’s $10 – her two copper coins – added up. She ended up giving me more than $5500 over all those years. That’s enough to have covered many of the long flights I’ve had to take in my ministry. She was able to help me do God’s work by simply remaining faithful, by trusting God that her small gift would mean something. Sitting here at my dining room table, I am humbled by her faithfulness.

She was faithful in so many other ways. As children, she faithfully watched over me as I crawled down a culvert to recover a baseball we girls had lost, warning me when cars were coming so I wouldn’t be afraid. And she spent long hours of her later life gathering up and organizing the only comprehensive genealogy I am aware of in our family. In a sense this made her not only faithful to sisters or children, but to the larger family. She was also a faithful tither, and she went to church at least three times a week all her life, even when her health was failing. I’m sure you could guess that, until she went blind, Carmilla faithfully read her Bible every day.


The Jones Sisters, 1984 edition, R-L: Mary, Carmilla, Kathryn and Grace

As a mother, as a sister, as a supporter, she was as constant as the north star. Of course, she wasn’t perfect, but who is? She was many things, but here at the end of her days it is clear. Carmilla, my dear big sister, I am humbled by, and thankful for, your enduring faithfulness. You have earned your rest with our Father above.

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This post was written by Grace Fabian


  • Eleanor Ambridge says:

    So sorry for your loss. Aren’t you glad you stopped to see her that Sunday night after you left me. You know my prayers are with you, my dear friend

  • Stanley Burtch says:

    Thank you for sharing about Aunt Carmilla What a great testimony of her life.

  • Judi Clarke says:

    So thankful for this beautiful tribute to your sister and sorry for your loss. I am humbled just reading of her faithfulness to the Lord and to your ministry! May God bless and comfort you at this time.

  • Jane kent says:

    I am so sorry, Grace. Carmilla has wonderful children that are a beautiful tribute to her as a mother. These are wonderful pictures and your words are beautifully written for your dear sister.

  • Kathy Ritchey says:

    So beautifully said..she was not perfect but she was ours.thank you for capturing her perfectly. I am sorry for you sisters I can’t imagine how hard that is. We love you.

  • Joanna says:

    Oh Grace, So sorry to hear of Carmella’s death. Our thoughts & prayers are with you. Thank you for sharing her story, so well written as always. The cares of this life now ended to be with our Heavenly Father. Sending our love, Joanna & Bob

  • Steve Martin says:

    So kind and honoring, thanks for sharing.

  • Sharon L Lutz says:

    So sorry to hear of the homegoing of your sister. Imagine being blind, having your sight restored and seeing Jesus!!!! Praying for you and your family. Your blog was a lovely tribute to her and the Savior she served.

  • There were references to your Tribute to Carmilla in several e-mail messages, before I was able to
    find it myself. It will reach many more people than the one that we just mailed this morning to Vickey’s address.
    Yes, I remember the first time we found out about how Harold was running around, rather than attending to his family. If I remember correctly, we were all gathered at the folks (your dad and Bryan’s mothers’ house on a street
    in Afton. I’m not sure which year that was; but
    I remembered having seen Harold driving in Oneonra, and wondered why he was there or
    some such thought. I don’t think I ever told anyone else about having seen Harold and
    wondering why he was there, etc.; but I
    realized why Carmilla was upset then, and
    realized that she had every right to be upset with him. (I hope he repents before he reaches Heaven, or I will feel that he did not know Jesus as we all thought.)

    Yes, Carmilla was as faithful as possible to be in the Lord’s house when there was a service. I wondered why she always sat on the back row; but we didn’t have to wonder if she would be
    there. She was there, honoring her Lord!!

    May none of us ever forget how she was used by the Lord for His Glory and for the good of
    everyone else who knew her and her Lord, Christ Jesus who gave His life for All!!

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Grace Fabian
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