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Remembering My Sister on Her Birthday

Today would have been my sister, Barbara’s 72nd birthday. It is hard to believe she has been gone almost five years. Time is flying by.

When we bought our retirement home, we wanted a place that was reasonably close to all our family. Everyone, with the exception of our family in Florida, was within a 3 hour drive. I was excited to be close enough to my sister to drive over for the day and be back before evening fell. Little did I know I would have less than one year to spend with her.

BJ (her family nickname) was smart and an excellent writer. But her goals were closer to the heart. She never met a stranger and always opened her home to friends of her children that found themselves in difficult situations in their own homes. She was kind, but pulled no punches. If you wanted the truth, BJ was there to lay it all out on the table.

I have written here before about her affinity for taking the backroads. I lived so much of my life in a hurry and she was always there to try to get me to slow down. It wasn’t just me, though, she loved to get behind the wheel and take anyone who dared get in the car with her on an adventure.

I smile now thinking how she showed her grandchildren a ‘special place’ that was only revealed in certain times of the year. She could weave life with wonder and it was impossible to escape the magic.

She was there for my daughter during a particularly difficult time in her life when I could not be. I will be forever grateful for the capacity she had to care for and protect those people fortunate enough to be in her circle. Her heart was endless.

I love you a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck.

That was one of her favorite ways to end a conversation. I still have a few recordings of her voice on my old phone and also on my old answering machine. Even when her situation was so dire, she had a cheerfulness in her voice that made you feel like things would be okay.

More than a sister, she was the best friend you could ever want but not only to me. She had the ability to listen, laugh, advise, but most of all ‘just be’ when it was important to find your own way. If you were her friend, you were a friend for life.

We speak of her often, missing the fullness she brought to our lives. In this way she still lives. Her presence will always be felt in the hearts of those who loved her. We miss her presence in our lives. We are all a little afloat without her here to keep us grounded.

Happy birthday, Sis. 💜💜💜

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56 Years and I Still Miss Him

My Grandfather
December 15, 1964. A little girl and her brother found their grandfather on a peaceful hillside where he had closed his eyes for the final time. Around him was the Christmas greenery he had gone on the hill to gather for the family Christmas. This little girl felt so sad for so long. I’m not sad any more, but I have not forgotten. I will always remember the day I lost one of the best friends I would ever have. Only now as a grandmother myself can I even begin to fathom the depth of what you knew about being loving and kind and gentle. Even now, I miss you and every December 15th I remember you with love. Not for what I lost but for all the gifts you gave me.

birthdays, Blog, Family, sister

Happy Birthday, Sis

Day 278

Today is my sister’s birthday. I have thought about her all week knowing her birthday was coming up. It is still hard not having her here physically, but I feel her spirit everywhere. I am not sure I will ever get over missing her, but I try to focus on the joy that celebrating her life brings to me.

My sister was a spitfire. Very politically minded and very family-centric. She never met a stranger. There was always someone who had fallen on hard times living with her family. Both my sisters had that trait. I always used to kid them and tell them I was born without the ‘come live with me gene‘! She would literally give you the shirt off her back.

She loved a debate. Especially concerning the two things most people try to avoid — religion and politics. She called them like she saw them and would argue her point until her last breath.

When the Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky debacle was revealed, my sister always wanted to see Hillary throw Bill’s clothes on the White House lawn. Of course that would never really happen, but that’s how she said she would have responded.

Political news was her drug of choice. She would watch C-SPAN any time she could. I could never argue with her — she was well armed with knowledge and had a proclivity toward the politics in our country. She could tell you anything you wanted to know about Watergate and she always thought Ted Kennedy should have gone to prison for the death of Mary Jo Kopechne.

For me, however, she was my big sister. Our relationship ebbed and flowed over the years, and thankfully we were really close in the years preceding her death. I look at this photo of her on Easter morning. She sat on the porch beside my grandfather ready to take on any challenge. When I think of her, my heart always remembers her this way. Dark hair, happy-go-lucky, and full of a zest for life. This brings me great joy.

There is a great sadness in losing someone you love. Grief can be a viscous taskmaster, but if we allow it to run its course, there is great joy in remembering their life rather than their death. I am so thankful I have reached this point. There is a lot of love, joy and memories in sixty years. She was much more than her death.

I am forever grateful knowing she was my sister and my friend.

Blog, Death, memories, mother

Tactile Memories

Day 148

We are out of town staying in my mother-in-law’s home. She passed away in December and we came down so hubby and his sister could address some of her affairs.

The first thing I noticed when we came in was the house still smells like mom. A wave of mixed emotions washed over me remembering how much she loved this place and how quickly cancer had taken her life.

The ladies from the church left us a gift of a prayer blanket. It was such a sweet and appreciated gesture. These ladies were her dear friends and confidants for the last 15 years and I know they saw her through some difficult times. It was so telling that they thought of us and how this loss would affect us.

The house remains decorated with her things. Her dishes, her artwork, and her furniture all evoke memories of her. We have been here two days now and of course she has been uppermost in our thoughts and our conversation. Our talks are filled with memories and wishes that she could have been with us just a little longer.

That’s how it is with those we love, isn’t it? There is never really enough time. Today I sat and read through her text messages remembering the daily struggles she had the last few months of her life. But always buried in the midst of messages from the hard days were messages full of life and determination.

Tonight as we went out to get dinner, the sun was setting behind her house. She would have enjoyed the colors of the sunset. Being here brings back a lot of difficult memories, but also brings back the wonderful memories. They far outweigh the painful memories.

Rest well, Mama. We miss you.

Blog, Death, illness, loss, memories, sister

When Memories Slap You in the Face

Day 122

Grief is sneaky. It sometimes waits until the wounds have slightly scabbed over. It waits for you to let your guard down. Then the memory comes and you are slapped in the face.

Today it was in the form of a song. I looked for it intentionally. I was planning to use it in my blog, but not this way. It brought me back to a time when my sister, Rosie, was told there was nothing else they could do to treat her cancer. The memories of her telling me she cried in the night so no one else would hear. The sadness she felt knowing she was leaving the children and grandchildren whom she loved so much.

This song made me ugly cry. I didn’t see it coming. I wrote about this song once before, but I thought I was strong enough to listen. I was wrong. Instead I have picked all the scabs off and now I am raw.

I miss you, Sissy.