Sisters

My Sister

Really, I never had a sister in the biological sense, but I came close. My cousin Pat was born six weeks before me and I never let her forget that she was the older. Her Mom, Lucy, was my Mom’s sister and they were very close. Pat and I were sisters in every sense of the word. 

Pat, beat breast cancer and then succumbed to leukemia a few years later. I was unable to go to the hospital to visit her due to my immunodeficiency, but I talked to her on the phone most days. Recently while cleaning up files on my computer, I ran across letters that I wrote to Pat during her last weeks on this earth. I am always more able to express myself in writing. Some letters were snail mailed, but most my husband delivered to her daily. I even wrote her obituary, per her request, and sent it to the hospice facility via that route. 

Reading the letters again has made me smile and cry and I’ve selected one, shortened, but not edited (sorry about some of the language) to share with you today. 


March 5, 2013 (a.k.a. first night of chemo)

Hi Pat,

Thought of you as soon as I opened my eyes this morning, knowing that you would be waiting for the THE CALL to come to the hospital and begin your clinical trial.  I don’t know how you feel.  I can only imagine and w/o prior experience such as yours the imagination can’t come up with anything close, I’m sure.  

I thought about our long past together and not together.  There are unanswered questions, like who broke who’s pot and did someone really drop a puppy and make a crack in his nose?   We went from innocent little girls to not so innocent middle sized girls.  We laughed and giggled all night.  It was especially hazardous at your house, because we knew your Dad had to get up hours before daylight to deliver bread.  It was for Bond, right?  He’d yell at us.  Your Mom would shame us, but we just could not contain the fun we were having.  I can’t remember our doing this at my house, but surely we did?

Then there was the teen stage when we worried about boys, hair, our weight and pimples.  I married and got pregnant, in that order and you got a job and became a business person.  How in hell did we both end up being nurses?  I cannot believe that I had the nerve to do that LPN thing and then it all came so naturally.  I decided there was no “practical” reason to be a practical nurse, so kept working at the RN and then we were both hot stuff; starched white uniforms, caps and feeling pretty damn proud of ourselves. 

Well, then as I told you on the phone today, I broke my pretty china nurse which you gave me when I graduated (the first time or second?).  Her arm is broken – osteoporosis?  But, it will be glued and good as new.  

I hope that your treatment will result in the same, or at least, comparable healing.  I used to pray for things I wanted badly.  I don’t do that anymore, but I keep you in my thoughts and send warm positive thoughts which I hope will somehow bring you peace and comfort. 

Oh yeah, our current stage of life is getting a little like Minnie’s and Lucy’s relationship in their later years.  I’m really ticked off at you for getting cancer a second time.  You had the good boob job and have the good hair and then you go and mess up both.  OK, I know it’s not your fault, but really, after beating the big “C” once, here you go getting it again.  I’m counting on you getting older (and me, too, of course) so that we can explore all the things that old women love.  

No, not knitting or any of that sort of bullshit.  We’ll go on long drives and wonder how we got there.  We’ll be gorgeous like Betty White and we’ll gossip about all our relatives (but mostly our in-laws).  We’ll wear polyester pants w/ elastic waistbands and go to all-you-can-eat buffets.  Then we’ll burp and complain about the food and have some more.  We’ll talk about what smart RNs we were and how arrogant and pushy the docs were and how things would be different in healthcare today if we were still there.

So, please try your best to get well, OK?  I need you.  I only have one sister and you have that honor.  

Love, Sue


 

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“Is solace anywhere more comforting than that in the arms of a sister.” Alice Walker

Sleep Tight

Dianne Mattingly Bynum at five years of age.

As told to her Mom years later.

Bedtime was a mixture of feeling both happiness and dread. After our prayers, Mom or Dad and at times both, would tuck us in and give us a hug and kiss.

That felt so good. Then we heard those words I dreaded, “Sleep tight” and Dad would usually add “don’t let the bedbugs bite.”

Before they left the room I had already grabbed my little sister’s gown or pajamas and was holding as tightly as I could. I wasn’t worried about bedbugs. I had never seen a bedbug. I was worried about something much more significant, losing my sister! 

Ever since they put her in my bed and told me to take care of her, I’ve slept tight every night to be sure she doesn’t get lost. She’s such a little girl (I’m big) that she could get lost so easily.

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Sisters, Dianne & Allison, Today

 

“Childhood is a short season.” Helen Hayes

 

Theme photo in title by Pixabay