Friday, September 8, 2017

And then there were seven.

He was just one week shy of turning twenty and already serving in the Air Force
stationed in South Carolina when I came along.

He came home as often as he could but South Carolina soon became his permanent home.
My first memories of him, although somewhat faint due to the fact that I was only three or four,
was when he would pick me up, balance me in the palm of one big hand
and extend me up to the ceiling, all the while chanting, "Way up high! Way up high!
I can also remember Mom offering this warning..."Now, Bob, you be careful with her!!"
Funny thing is, later on he performed this trick many times with his own three little girls.
 I remember looking forward with great anticipation to his arrival when we were expecting a visit.
You could find me perched at the window that faced the end of our road throughout the day,
not putting into perspective the 13+ hour drive it took to make it to Ohio.
What does a little kid know about perspective, anyway?
 Back then I called him Bobby and he called me Little Sis.
Later on, he was just Big Brother and I was Dee-bor-AHHH.
He had a nickname for just about everyone and mine was his quite unique interpretation of Deborah.
The name stuck with me all throughout my life and if he would have felt up to it,
I'm sure he would have called me that when I saw him a few weeks ago.

Judging by the shirt (and the wallpaper) this photo was surely taken the same day as the first one.
These are my other two brothers, Jerry on the guitar and Doug on the fiddle.
Music has played a huge part in our lives and you could always find a collection
 of stringed instruments stashed here and there throughout the house.
They say it all began with our dad although the only instrument I ever heard him play
was the harmonica, which he called the french harp.

Fast forward to what looks like the 70's (above) and sometime in the 80's (below).

This is one thing the Billheimer brothers were kind of famous for...well, maybe not exactly famous.
Now, I don't know how to play either one of these but I can only imagine how difficult it might be to strum someone else's guitar with one hand and chord another's mandolin with your other hand...
...all at the same time!

The video above was taken several years ago at one of our reunions.
They really all can sing quite well but this is just an example of their crazy shenanigans.

Group photos through the years...

He wasn't able to be with us for the past two reunions.
Cancer that he thought was behind him returned, this time with vengeance.
He fought the good fight until he just wasn't able to fight anymore.

Last Wednesday, August 30, his three beautiful daughters were given the gift
of singing him into glory.

It's really kind of difficult to wrap my brain around—losing a sibling.
I've tried to imagine what it would be like, especially since all of us are getting up there.
Although, due to miles, we weren't able to be together as often as we would have liked, 
our moments together as a family were such blessed times.
Over the past several weeks I am learning that one of the greatest losses in life
surely must be the death of a brother or sister...
 ...and many of us will have to face the loss of a sibling more than once.
Our siblings share many of the same memories and family history 
and when one of them passes away, 
they take one of our connections to the past with them.

My family and I miss him so very much already, 
yet we are rejoicing that he is with the One that he had served for so many years.

So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.
2 Corinthians 5:6-8
So I want to say "thank you" for the sweet and kind words of condolence
and particularly for the prayers for me and my family.
You all are the best.

Much love,


  1. So sorry for your loss. Prayers for your family!

  2. I lost a sister many years 1985. Then lost one in 2013....still miss them. I really enjoyed seeing all these photos.

  3. I am so sorry for your loss, Debby. I lost a brother 22 years ago, and my remaining brother and I are not close (not by my choice). It hurts.

    My grandma was the oldest of 9 kids and her baby sister is now the last remaining sibling. This makes her very sad. She's close with my mom (who is only three years younger), but she misses her siblings.

  4. What a beautiful tribute to your brother! Each loss, be a siblings parent ,child or spouse has it's own level of sorrow and loss,I'm sure.

  5. I am so, so sorry for your loss, Debby. It was heart warming to hear about your brother from a loving little sister's perspective. I know he will be greatly missed!

  6. How hard it must be to lose a sibling, someone with shared memories built up over the years. I am so very sorry for your loss, Debby. Your brother sounds like a wonderful, loving, and fun-loving man. He's enjoying heavenly music now.

  7. Such a beautiful tribute to a man you so obviously adored. My sincere condolences, you and your family remain in my prayers. Take care.

  8. Debby, I'm so sorry for the loss of your dear brother. Sending hugs!

  9. I enjoyed all the photos Debby. I wonder if there is a special bond with large families … at least I've seen it. There is so much we share with a sibling and you have expressed it so well. Again I am sorry for your loss. But certainly am thankful with you that you know where he is!!

  10. Awwww Debby, I have tears in my eyes while writing this comment. What a beautiful tribute you've written for your brother. I feel like I got to know him. To know that his beautiful daughters sang to him before he passed on to see Our Savior, was such a wonderful thing. Thank you for sharing about your brother. Love, prayers, and hugs are sent to you.
    p.s. I'm glad that you included the singing video, too.

  11. Oh, my sweet, sweet friend, I can barely type this for I have tears in my eyes....

    I am so sorry for your loss. This was such a beautiful and precious tribute to your brother. What a wonderful man he was!

    Thinking of you and remembering you in my prayers. Much love to you!

  12. What a wonderful tribute...I think I have some dust in my eye. Your brother was a handsome man and his daughters are truly beautiful. How wonderful that they sang him on his way. Gosh, more dust.

  13. Such a beautiful tribute, Debby, celebrating the life of your wonderful brother. How lovely all the photos of you and your siblings are. So, so many memories to be held in all your hearts. Take care, lovely lady. Sending you many hugs wrapped up in loving prayers.

  14. What an amazing tribute to your brother!! It's so great that you will have all the memories as you look back at all the treasured photos of your siblings.
    Praying for you!
    Hugs, Amy

  15. What an amazing tribute to your brother!! It's so great that you will have all the memories as you look back at all the treasured photos of your siblings.
    Praying for you!
    Hugs, Amy

  16. What an amazing tribute to your brother!! It's so great that you will have all the memories as you look back at all the treasured photos of your siblings.
    Praying for you!
    Hugs, Amy

  17. Hi Debby! I am right there with you my friend. My dad died last year, and it's so weird to think he won't be here with me anymore. Our loved ones leave such a big hole, don't they?
    Thank you for sharing so many of your photos with us! I love seeing them. What beautiful sisters indeed, and what a musical talent in your family tree too. That's such a fun picture of strumming and fingering!
    God bless you and your family as you learn to live without your precious family member. You know he's with you so close now, sure is nice to be in the flesh too...

  18. Hi Debby, I am so sorry for your loss, you and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers.
    I must tell you what a wonderful tribute you have written to your brother, and family, memories are one of the best gifts God has given us to comfort us in our time of grief! May the God of hope continue to bless and keep you.

  19. I am sorry that you have lost your brother. You describe him in such a wonderful way that I'm convinced I would have liked him. Getting along with siblings makes losing one even harder, but I hope the many happy memories can be of some comfort for you.

  20. What a precious tribute to your brother. I have 2 brothers and I can't imagine life without either of them even though many miles separate us. May the Lord bring peace and comfort as you adjust to a new way of life, a new normal. Hugs to you!

  21. Oh, dear friend! I am SO sorry for your deep, deep loss. My heart just goes out to you in so many ways. Your family reminds me so much of my own. The music, the closeness, etc. May the God of all comfort hold you extra close as you walk these lonely miles of grief. Sending much love and many hugs to you tonight, sweet Debby.

  22. Sorry for your loss, Debby. Two of my brothers were in the service when I came along, so I know the feeling of so little time with them, and the much-anticipated visits. There was always music when we got together, that's one of the things I miss, and it's been on my mind a lot lately. Hugs.

  23. Your tribute and thoughts here have brought me to tears...what sweet words and feelings. I have thought of how HUGE it would really be to lose one of my sisters or my brothers alot recently as we all are getting "up there". I am soo sorry you have had to experience this and pray that the God of all comfort will wrap His arms around you and give you His peace.

  24. What a beautiful tribute to your brother Debby! I have not experienced the loss of a sibling yet, but I know it must really really hurt and leave a gaping hole in your heart. You are so thankful for them to be with Jesus, but miss them being with you. My prayers are with you during this time, praying the sweet memories continue to bless your heart. I think it is just wonderful that your family worked so hard to have family reunions every year, that is so wonderful. So many times after the parents pass, it is harder for the kids to get together to visit. It was wonderful to see your family make this effort! Praying for you dear friend!

  25. A lovely tribute to your big brother and to the love of family. God's peace go with you as you finish your own earthly journey without him.

  26. I'm so sorry Debby. What a beautiful tribute to your brother. The video was fun to watch. Lovely to have so many good memories. I hope they will sustain you and your family. Blessings, Deborah

  27. This is a beautiful post in remembrance of your brother. I lost my brother also, and he was only in his 50's. I sure do miss him. That picture of your brother and his daughters is so very special. You have many wonderful family pictures throughout the years. : )



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