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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. 💜💜💜

birthdays, Blog, loss, sister

My Sister’s Birthday

Day 137

67. That’s how old you would be today. We would have already talked but I know you would not be focused on your birthday. Not today. Your heart would be elsewhere.

My Sister

IMG_5631
One of my Favorite Pictures of You

Not all sisters get along which makes me even more thankful. Your love and support were all that kept me afloat during certain times of my life as I know my love and support were for you. That’s what sisters do.

I was determined to celebrate you today, to cheat grief out of a day. It’s hard. There would never have been enough days but I wanted more. We both did.

I think in some ways you tried to prepare me for a time without you but you did a shitty job with that.

I do celebrate the love and the memories — there were so many but why does it still feel they are lacking?

I can feel that I’m not doing well at celebrating. Grief is trying to win, but then so am I.

Ta-Da.

My Friend

This was a role you took seriously and you were damned good at it. There are many people who should take a page from your book.

Friendships are living and breathing relationships. Yes, you were my sister, but you were also always my friend.

With you, things were never one-sided. It was give-and-take. If you had not heard from me in an acceptable timeframe, you called me. Sometimes I would turn inward and close up, but you were not about to have any of that. I never had to cry alone — until now.

turtleSo many people don’t understand that two-lane highway of friendship. With you, it was a curvy country road. Sometimes there were no lines on the road and no road signs. That’s when you just felt your way. And sometimes you needed to cross the center line when I was about to fall off the cliff — oncoming traffic be damned. And when the road was just too difficult to maneuver, there was always a place to pull over and just be.

And if there was a turtle crossing that road, it must be rescued! I was the turtle more times than I like to admit.

Anger

There is still anger. There are things I am not over. It’s hard to know if you would have been right there with me or if you would be telling me to just let it go.

My daughter called this morning to see how I was doing. We talked about anger and unresolved thoughts. She suggested I call on Mr. Rogers. So here you go.

Video courtesy of YouTube

Moving Forward Without You

It’s almost been three years. It is not easy. I am thankful your voice is still clear in my mind.

I love you and I miss you. That will never change.

Happy Birthday, Sis. I hope somewhere, somehow and in some way you know your little sister is here still loving you and missing you just like always.

Blog, Family, grandparents, music, parents, sister

Music and Memories

Day 20

This morning I started my day responding to the wonderful comments people have left on my blog. It gives me insight into what I am writing and how people are responding. We all see and hear differently and that is part of what makes this journey so interesting to me.

I then moved on to reading my co-blogger’s blogs. I am always inspired by what they write and sometimes, like today, those blogs spark a memory in me that serve as an inspiration for my blog. Today, that inspiration came from Tanya’s blog about her favorite music.

So many major moments in my life have been highlighted with music but music also seems to surround all the everyday moments in my life as well.

Childhood Memories

paternal grandparents
My Paternal Grandparents

My paternal grandfather was a gentle giant. Those are always the words I choose to describe him. As a young girl, l remember him sitting me on his knee and singing “Old Dan Tucker”, an old ‘folk’ song that has as many added lyrics as it does explanations of its origin.

My paternal grandmother played the ukulele and sang a little. I remember her playing and singing “Little Mohee”. I can still close my eyes and see her sitting in my grandfather’s red recliner. When she sat down you could always see her nylons rolled just below the knees. I can see her strumming the ukulele, her gray hair braided and rolled into a bun singing this song.

Of course both of these songs are probably not politically or socially correct, but they are the songs my memories are made of.

Broken Records – Broken Hearts

The first time I realized how important music could be to someone I was probably about 7 years old. My grandmother had a Victrola in one of the upstairs bedrooms. She had maybe 10 or so 78 rpm records.

One day she was upstairs listening to records and cleaning. I came bouncing in the room, ran and jumped up and sat on the bed. Then I heard it. A deep cracking sound. My grandmother had laid one of the records on the bed and I broke it. She started to cry. I will never forget it. I was so sorry I broke her record. But I discovered it wasn’t just any record. It was her favorite — “I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen”.

I do not know why this record or this song was so meaningful to her. I will never forget her heartbreak, even as she hugged me and told me it would be okay. That song will always be burned into my little girl heart.

Music with Mom and Dad

My Mom and Dad loved music. When we were growing up, it was the music of Chubby Checker, Sonny James and Eddy Arnold. We sang in the car frequently. It seemed we were always traveling somewhere. Lots of folk songs and silly songs and songs we learned at camp.

I also learned the music of Vaughn Monroe (“Racing with the Moon”), Ned Miller (“From a Jack to a King”) and also The Browns (“The Old Lamplighter”). I most associate those songs with my Mom.

When riding in the car, everyone would drift off to sleep. I was always the one awake keeping my Dad company. I can still hear my Dad’s deep bass voice singing the hymn “Steal Away”. It always calmed me to hear him sing so gently. Many of the songs and hymns my family loved were old Negro spirituals – and “Steal Away” was one of the best.

Singing from the Heart

I mentioned the hymns which my family sang. My mother’s favorite was “His Eye is on the Sparrow” which still brings me great comfort. My paternal grandmother always sang “Peace in the Valley” as she cleaned house. I can almost hear her now.

When my sister passed away a few years ago, my niece asked my daughter (her cousin) to sing at my sister’s funeral. My sister and my daughter were so close I did not think she would be able to do it. But she did. Beautifully. She sang my sister’s favorite hymn — “In the Garden”. She stood in the front of the church and said she wanted to sing the way our family always sang — a cappella. It is one of the most difficult and most beautiful moments of my life.

So Much More

There is so much more to write about this, but the memories this post brought up for me have me spent for today. I will revisit this at some later time.

“Where words fail, music speaks.” 
Hans Christian Andersen