Friday, September 29, 2006

My sister is the most courageous woman I know. 

The little girl was used to having her sister leave on alternate weekends. She knew her sister went to see her Daddy. However this time things seemed different. Everyone seemed mad and upset and the little girl didn't like that and tended to stay out of the way when that occurred. At 4 years old, she had already learned the meaning and advantages of "out of sight - out of mind."

Her Sister's Daddy showed up in a truck this time. That's weird. He usually came in a car. Why are they taking her furniture? She had furniture at her Daddy's house, didn't she?

The little girl ran and peered through the screen door at her sister and her sister's Daddy loading the last of her things into the truck. Something's not right here. This doesn't seem like the other weekends. As her sister and her sister's Daddy drove away, the little girl thought to herself, "Sissy! Turn around and wave good bye again! Sissy!"


Seemingly out of the blue, Mom got a phone call from my sister. When Mom said we were meeting her on a Saturday at the newspaper where Mom worked, I felt like a person who had been sworn to secrecy for years and the secret was finally revealed.

Over the previous 10 years, I had been instructed to just call myself an only child. It was easier that way because people didn't need to know our business. Sometimes, I just couldn't stand it any more and I would show a friend a picture of me and my sister together but had to swear them to secrecy.

When we moved from a big house to a single wide mobile home, we put a lot of our stuff in storage. Dad didn't pay the bill for several months in a row and our stuff was confiscated, including our family photos. Suddenly, I didn't have any proof of my sister anymore.

However today I was going to see my sister in person and have living proof that she existed! Had she missed me? Would she like me? What would she look like? As I sat pondering these things, a stunningly beautiful redhead came to the door of the newspaper and knocked on the locked door. I sat and stared for a moment and knew it was her. The little 4 year old in me wanted to run and cling to her, but the scared 14 year old held back.

I walked to the door and opened it. The beautiful woman asked for my Mom and I let her in. She looked at me a beat longer and then said, "Joan?"


Although my sister and I have different Dads, we have never referred to each other as 1/2 sisters. It just doesn't feel right. She is first and foremost my sister and I'm very fortunate to also have her as a friend. The last promise that we made to our Mom is that we would take care of each other, and we have kept our promise - not just because of the promise we made Mom, but because we love each other dearly.

I cannot begin to express how much I love, cherish and appreciate my sister. She has a piece of my heart and soul that only one other person in this world has, and that is her son and my nephew, Eric.

Sissy, I'm so glad you had the courage to make that call to Mom 25 years ago. I love you more than I can say.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Overheard Yesterday... 

Woman #1: Do you go to church on Sundays?

Woman #2: I worship at St. Mattress on the Springs!


Saturday, September 16, 2006

Barbie Picks Up Adorable Little Puppy Poop! 

I kid you not.

Barbie has a dog that when you feed him a biscuit and push on his tail, he makes a biscuit for her that she can pick up with her very own pooper scooper!


Barbie also has a kitty that when she gives it drink from a water bottle it will wet it's litter box for her and then she can scoop the box.

All I can do is shake my head.

(heavy sigh!)

A week beyond September 11 

I knew September 11 was going to be kind of overwhelming with it being the 5th anniversary. I avoided all TV shows having to do with any of it. I peeked at CNN.com occasionally, but only to scan headlines. I did not understand why a person would want to relive that day in "real time," however if you were that person, CNN replayed the whole day on the internet. A friend and I looked at it for a few minutes but soon turned it off. I remember what happened all too well.

I was driving to work listening to the radio. The DJ was known to be a prankster, so when he paused and said that a plane just hit a World Trade Center Tower, I thought he was joking. However that only lasted a moment as you heard the combination of horror and amazement in his voice as he was obviously watching the news on TV and then remembered he was on live radio.

I got to work and amazingly enough, not that many people had heard yet. I rushed to boot up my computer and go to CNN.com and there it was - the awful truth. I heard other people turning up their radios and gasps of horror as they heard what was happening - then the 2nd tower was hit. I burst into tears.

I called my Dad and Step Mom. I called my sister. I called my roommate. I had an overwhelming urge to connect with my nearest and dearest.

There were TV's in the gym downstairs in our building, so a group of us went down there to convince ourselves that what we were hearing was actually true. Many of us with tears streaming down our faces and mouths ajar as we stared at the plumes of smoke coming from the WTC towers.

The Pentagon was hit. There were other planes hi-jacked and in the air. I remember thinking - This is it - the world is ending today.

We finally got sent home from work - we were all too freaked out to work anyway. When I got home, my roommate and I sat in silence watching the coverage.

The days and weeks afterward were horrifying in their own way with the revelation of just how horrible it had all been and how many lives were lost. However, someone bought some small American flags and handed them out and our "Cube Farm" became a sea of red, white and blue. We took up money to send to the Red Cross. We all treated each other like someone who had lost a loved one. Although most people in our office didn't know anyone that perished, having lived through that day and the impact of what happened was very similar to a death in the family.

The next year as September 11th approached, I wanted to help facilitate a meaningful remembrance of the day with the help of my co-workers. On September 4, my Dad passed away unexpectedly. After my allotted bereavement time, I returned to work and focused on the September 11th activities and they all went off without a hitch. There are pictures of me during that time and I look like a deer caught in the headlights, however I remember being appreciative to have something meaningful to distract me from the death of my Dad.

I've looked back over what I have written so far and notice that I used the word "horror" a lot. My "Inner Editor" tells me that I need to break out the Thesaurus, however I think that the word "horror" is the only way to put what we all went through that day.

I know people older than me say they will never forget certain things that happened in history, like JFK's assassination. September 11th is my equivalent. Although they are very different, I'm struck by the similarity of how helpless and horrified a nation felt as it watched what they thought was unthinkable actually become a reality.

Joan steps on her Soap Box... 

My friend was lamenting the other day that things have gotten so out of hand as far as kid's birthdays go. These days if you aren't practically sending your kid and 100 of his closest friends for a trip to Disney World, you are a loser. Even if you do send him to Disney World, then there's the pressure on how to top that next year.

My family was very economically challenged when I was growing up. However I always had a birthday party if I wanted one and everyone had a great time. This however was back when kids played outside. One year we all slept out on the screened in porch. Another year, Dad set up the tent in the back yard and we roasted hotdogs and marshmallows. As we got older, we would ask to go to the skating rink and then have everyone back to the house for a sleep over. One year a girlfriend's Mom bought cans and cans of shaving cream and Silly String and told us to go at it in the garage. The only caveat was that we had to hose out the garage the next morning.

You'll notice that no one or nothing was entertaining us. (aside from the shaving cream and silly string) WE were entertaining ourselves. Yes, there was the occasional trip to Ft. Worth to go to the movie or go to Crystal's, but those were few and far between.

Why have things gotten so out of hand on birthdays? Why have people encouraged their kids to become even more materialistic by having such outlandish birthday parties thus making other kids and other parents feel inferior? It makes no sense to me whatsoever.

MTV has a show on called "My Super Sweet 16" that sometimes I stare at in utter horror. These unappreciative kids have birthday parties that cost more than most people's weddings! Granted - 16th birthday is a milestone birthday and should maybe be a nicer birthday party, but OH. MY. GOD. Not only does Mom and Dad shell out $50,000 to $100,000 for a party but buy them a top of the line luxury car that cost another $30,000 to $50,000!!! THEY'RE 16, FOR GOODNESS SAKES! GEEZ!

Aren't kids being done a HUGE disservice by being given SO MUCH SO EARLY in their lives? What do they have to look forward to if they've basically had it all by the time they are 16?

Sunday, September 03, 2006

An Early Christmas Story 

NOTE: Despite the subject matter, this story is meant to be humorous. One thing my family has always been able to do is laugh in the face of adversity. Ha HA!

When my Mom found out she was dying, she started planning. OH the planning that was involved! Everything was in place when she finally passed away - everything except what she wanted done with her ashes.

So my sister and I asked her, "Do you want to be buried?" "NO!" "Do you want to be sprinkled somewhere?" "NO!!" "What DO you want, Mother? "I know I don't want to be on one of your mantles somewhere!"

Unfortunately Mom passed away before she decided what she wanted done with her ashes. For several years, Marti kept her on the bar of one of her homes. She swears that that the contents of the bottle of Vodka that sat next to Mom's urn started dissipating.

My sister, nephew and I decided to have a fun Christmas after my sister left "The Asshole," which is the term of endearment we referred to her second husband by. Marti and Eric wanted to rent a Lincoln Continental and away we went to Epcot at Disney and down to Key West. As we were packing the car, we decided to take an extra passenger with us: My Mom. Mom always liked the ocean and maybe we could lob her off down there at the Southern Most Point of the United States?

I sat in the backseat of the Lincoln with my Mom's urn sitting beside me. I didn't want it to slide around, so I put the seatbelt on around it. We stopped at McDonald's for a snack. I put my cheeseburger, fries and coke beside the urn and took a picture. Mother always was an avid reader, so after lunch, I put the travel guide in front of her. Mom always preferred to travel with sunglasses on, so I put mine on top of the urn. I took another picture. My sister, nephew and I laughed loud and long about this - we all have a sick sense of humor - but then, we are the offspring of my Mom.

Christmas Eve we were invited to the house of one of Marti's co-workers to share her family's traditional seafood Christmas Eve feast. We had been there for about 30-45 minutes and were making ourselves acquainted with the parents of our host, when the question was asked, "Why aren't you spending Christmas with your Mom?" Marti and I looked at each other and then said, "Oh we are! Mom is in the car!"

"What?!? You've been in here for almost an hour and left your Mom in the car?!?!"

"Yes. Shall I go get her?"

"For goodness sakes, YES!"

I went out to the car and got Mom's urn. I brought her in and set her on the counter. "Here she is!"

Marti and I were stifling giggles while we watched their look of horror melt into disbelief and then finally they started laughing, too.

Before the end of the night, Mom's picture had been taken with a Santa Hat, a glass of wine and a lit cigarette, which is exactly how Mom would have enjoyed spending a Christmas Eve! She was the hit of the party!


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