A Tribute to My Sister

December 24, 2009

Kerrie's Tiles              (Edges not yet finished)

For my sister

 This little rug is finished except for the trim.  It will have a bright red corded border when it is done, and will be finished out to hang on the wall of her kitchen.  I made it to honor Kerrie Jo’s commitment to caring for our parents during two years of illness, injury and death all while raising her own family and putting her career on hold.  She’s done it all with grace and style.  Thank you, Kerrie.

Kerrie and I used to  fight like cats and dogs.  Physical fights.  We’d slap, punch, pull hair, and yell things I can’t imagine saying to anyone today.  

One time when we were little Mom was getting us some gerbils because a friend of hers had one that had babies.  My grandma (Dad’s mom) was with us as we drove over there to get them.  One of us asked, “Will they fight with each other?”  My mom said, “Oh, no, they won’t fight.  They’re sisters.”  That satisfied us, but Mom and Grandma were quiet for a second and then looked at each other and started cracking up laughing. 

One time Kerrie dumped all my dresser drawers out on the floor so I pulled her hair and threw a whole glass of iced tea in her face.  Not the glass, just the ice and tea.  But it was a big glass.  Then I ran outside to burn off some steam and she locked me out of the house.  I can’t for the life of me recall what I did that caused her to dump out my drawers, but it was surely something.

As adults Kerrie and I weren’t close for a long time.  That was mainly because we lived far apart.  She moved back to New Orleans when I moved to Houston.  Her family lived in Kansas for years after we were in Dallas (Irving to be precise).  But we also have very different political and religious views.  And we had a lot of fights to forgive each other over.  We loved each other dearly.  We just had no clue how to be around each other for very long without feeling like pulling some hair… either our own or each other’s.

When my 79 year old Dad fell through the ceiling of his house in May 2008, landing on his head on the kitchen island and then the floor,  Kerrie called frantically.  I was driving to work and made a quick U, threw some things in a bag at home and then headed for east Texas.  I can tell you about the sordid story of events that followed, but I’ve written about them elsewhere, so I’ll just say that for a year plus two months we dealt with brain surgery, transfusions, abdominal surgery.  We celebrated Pop’s 80th birthday in rehab, Mom had her stroke, we lost an uncle and both of my in-laws, and Kerrie’s husband had a heart attack.   Then came cancer and chemo. 

There was absolutely no time or energy left for fighting with each other.  We were at war with the inevitable.  Why make trouble where there doesn’t need to be any?

By the time it was finished, after Pop died in those short months that sometimes seem to have encompassed our whole lives, we were wrung out and strung out, but we had learned how to be close.  We had learned how to ‘accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative’ all while holding each other up.  When it mattered we were there for each other.  I changed my ring tone to “Lean on me” for my sister’s calls.   Hers for me is “Somebody Groovy”, which is high praise, let me tell you what.

My sister finished her college degree during all of this, with three kids still at home and her husband running a business.  She helps Mom with shopping and book keeping and cooking and a huge array of tasks Mom can’t do by herself since her stroke.  She goes to church and does the shopping and helps in her husband’s business. 

My sister is my hero, and I want her to know it.  This is just a little token, but the real thanks is in my heart.

2 Responses to “A Tribute to My Sister”

  1. Rosa Says:

    I have to tell you your post brought tears to my eyes and I just read it to my husband (choking up as I read out loud) who hates most of his brothers for their treatment of him growing up. I have a sister that I love dearly also but we are so extrememly different. I do know that we would do anything to help out one another though. I thank you for your post. I hope it makes DH think….I also hope life is better for you now. Life is so precious and tradegies like this really make us stop and think,

    God Bless,


    • Thank you so much for this. Siblings are so important… they are the only ones that understand “how it was”. We received several gifts during our difficult years. My mother’s stroke has resulted in her being far more gentle and kind. Two years of ailing parents and inlaws brought my family closer. And, of course, I began meditating and learning how to just accept things without feeling defensive about them, so political and religious differences seem so petty. (Or at least I learned to know it is possible! I’m far from perfect!) Anyway, thanks again. I really appreciate the sweet words. My best to your family.

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