Anne and Donna have been sisters for seventy-six years. I offered a hand portrait to them after I photographed Anne and her husband Howard, who was in his last days. Howard was nearly comatose and hadn’t uttered an intelligible word in days.

I had Anne and Donna sit near the window, knee-to-knee and face-to-face. Donna said nervously, “Thank you for covering up my horrible arthritic knuckles.” Anne silently rubbed the tops of Donna’s fingers with her thumbs.

Donna then left the room. I returned to Howard’s beside with Anne. Howard surprised us by forming a complete sentence loud and clear. With eyes closed he grunted, “What the HELL was SHE doing here?” Anne went on to tell me that her older sister Donna hadn’t said a kind word to her since they were in their early teens. They have been at odds and at each other’s throats for over fifty years. Anne didn’t tell Donna that Howard was dying in the hospital, Donna only found out because she was a volunteer there. Death has a way of bringing the estranged together.

Anne and Donna have avoided each other’s touch for over half a century. I didn’t know this and I had them holding hands. They could have said no, but they didn’t. Anne sighed and said, “It had to be done, I wasn’t going to initiate it, neither was Donna. God brought you here to us for this reason.” I went from feeling like an intruder to feeling like an angel. This ministry is amazing.

Leave a Reply