Thursday, July 3, 2008

Baby Sister ...

Today is the two year anniversary of Wendy's death. These anniversaries are tough reminders of the details. Like our first reactions; the phone call I received from my brother, Randy, the message on my cell phone from her daughter, Catherine, my first conversation with my Mother, and the calls I had to make myself.

Wendy died suddenly, at about 3:00 in the morning. She and Catherine lived next door to each other. Cat didn't get a response from Wendy that morning as she was leaving for work, either on her phone or at her door. She had to let herself in the widow of the bedroom where she was lying across her bed. The Medical Examiner said it was all quite instant, and that there was no indication of her suffering. An aneurysm ...

Wendy rented and watched two movies that night, The Pink Panther and Syriana. She loved Steve Martin and she had a major love crush on George Clooney. So I like to think of her spending her last evening with those two. We talked last around 6:00. We usually talked 4 or 5 times every day and for some reason we didn't speak before bed. That day she went to see my Great Aunt Ruth and she also went to my Grandparent's graves, where we ended up burying her ashes.

I photographed Wendy all of her life. This photo is one of my favorites because her personality comes through so clearly. We were celebrating my 50th at the Palm in Houston and I had asked her to take the place right across from me as I knew she would want lobster and I had to get the photo.

That birthday coincided with Thanksgiving that year so we had a two week visit that included Mom. That was her last trip to Houston, our last Thanksgiving together, and my last birthday with her. That afternoon of my birthday we went to the Princess Diana exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts with a group of friends. She and I left together and drove through Jack in the Box for her favorite, Monster Tacos, on the way to MGP2 to have birthday cake.

That was not the last time Wendy and I saw each other. My Aunt Lauretta died the following April so I came to Watertown for a week. Wendy's fibromialgia was really kicking in terribly and she was not in a good place. She also had a very serious urinary tract infection so we spent a night at the emergency room and then I stayed with her. The last time I saw her was when Catherine, Mom and Wendy dropped me off at the airport in Sioux Falls. Saying good bye was always hard. I was so far away for so many years.

After I send this to press, I am going to go out to my garden to pick an arrangement for Wendy's grave. I have many of her favorite flowers planted. I am going to go pick Mom up to come along. I will go out there again later today with Catherine. The 4th of July is a huge celebration for our family. Mom and I will go get our groceries then and spend the day preparing our traditional foods ... Pistachio Bundt cake included : )

I really love Wendy's headstone. The verse is from a refrigerator magnet that Wendy gave to Cat a very long time ago. How appropriate and comforting these words are when we visit. Wendy was an expert on Irish mythology and our family's roots. Catherine designed the Celtic cross and we put her initials inside of it.

A safe, happy and blessed 4th of July weekend to all of us ... many things to mourn, but more to celebrate !


  1. What a beautiful tribute to your sister. You have wonderful memories, and I am sure she is keeping a watch on things. I am glad to hear you are with family now, and ready for a good celebration. Enjoy your family. Enjoy your memories of your sweet sister.
    Take care and thanks for sharing.

  2. Thank you for sharing your photos and memories about Wendy, your times together and the day she passed. Her headstone is beautiful.
    It's lovely that you planted her favorite flowers, so that you can have your home-grown ones to take to her grave. It sounds like a powerful gift to bring, as your family is rooted so lovingly to the land of your forebears.
    God bless you and your family this weekend, and always.

  3. I was very touched by your sharing your feelings and love for your sister. You don't know me...I live in Washington State...but have a cousin in Sioux Falls and one in Watertown! My parents are from Sisseton. I love South Dakota. I hope you all have a wonderful 4th of July and continue to share your memories. God bless.

  4. My heartfelt sympathies... Losing your sister? Unbearable.

  5. This was a beautiful piece on your sister and it's obvious you loved her very much.

    Have you read the book "The Shack"? You may want to pick up a copy.... it deals a lot with how life really doesn't end.... it goes on and we're just separated by a thin veil between our current world, and the eternal world, with God.

    You will be reunited with Wendy again - I'm sure you know that.

    Until then, may your beautiful memories of your sister fill your heart with peace, happiness and joy.

    Blessings and Love to you!

  6. I came across your blog through Sky Watch Friday, which my daughter has participated in twice. I am so very touched by this post about your sister. I so enjoyed reading this and just looking at your beautiful sister's face and into her eyes in the lobster picture. I cannot imagine the pain you all felt two years ago. I think what you wrote is a wonderful tribute to your sister. Of course, I did not know her, nor do I know you, but this post made such an impression on me. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  7. What a lovely tribute to your sister. How sad it must be for you without her. I hope time helps make things easier.

    Take care
    and thanks for the comment.

  8. I'm so sorry about your sister. The cross is beautiful as is the message on her headstone.

  9. I have a special place in my heart for anyone who has lost a family member, but especially a dear sister. So many parallels in my sister's death and yours. My sister stayed up late to watch movies, which was not uncommon. She was found the same way, instant, same thing happened. My mind knows she's gone, my my heart still searches. The Anniversaries don't bother me as much after 5 years, but the shock of her death will never fade. I understand your feelings totally. Luckily, we have a storehouse of memories to draw on. This was a great tribute to your sister. With hers and your Mom's history, I hope you have had a scan. It's a hard thing to get over, but remembering and honoring help balm the wounds. Thansk for sharing this with your readers.