Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A'right A'ready

I think many people experience this: The fear that after the death of someone we love, we might somehow forget them. That we might not honor them by remembering them every minute of every day. That we might no longer vividly see their faces in our memories. Or hear their voices clearly in our minds. And that, somehow, if we don't remember every little detail every moment of our lives, we have betrayed them and the memory of them, and that we never loved them enough in the first place.


I've talked plenty about my sister, Dale. She was 2 years and 9 months my senior. She died when she was 29, almost half-way through the year to her 30th birthday. She never met Jerry. She wasn't around when I came out of the closet (although I know she knew, probably long before I did). She wasn't around to see me move west and then east again and north and then west again. And on and on. She wasn't around, thankfully, when our father had cancer (three times in five years) and then died. Nor, again thankfully, when our mother was hit by a car. She wasn't around to see our brother gain his independence and grow into the person he's become. She wasn't around to see The Dowager Duchess's hair turn white (or mine fall out while turning gray). She wasn't around to even know that I call our mother The Dowager Duchess and not "Mum" like she called her with her late-developing English accent.


She's missed a lot in the last 31-1/2 years. Or maybe she hasn't. Maybe she's seen it all. I know she's somewhere within me every step of the way. She died on a Saturday in March. I have tried over the years to not dwell on that date. It was only one day, and it wasn't a very good one. Well, let's be honest and say it sucked big time. She was born on a Wednesday in September. I have never forgotten that day and, over the years, I've tried to celebrate it instead of mourning it.


So, it was a shock this week when I looked at the date and realized I had missed it. I had missed writing a blog post about her. I had missed mentioning the day to Jerry. I was so angry with myself. 'How could I have forgotten her?' I demanded. She's still in my thoughts ever single day, not every minute, but definitely every day. I used to obsess about her birthday. I was depressed building up to it, depressed on the day — no matter how much I said I was celebrating it — and depressed for weeks after. So how could it have slipped by? Didn't I care anymore? Then I realized, I had returned from my trip to New York five days earlier. My jet lag was the pits and I then was sick in bed — miserably sick in bed, unable to sleep, with no interest in food, and overwhelmingly depressed. And that miserable, sick-in-bed, don't-want-to-live day was Dale's birthday.


But now, time to move on. Dale would definitely have said long before this point, "A'right a'ready. Stop being such a killjoy! 

YO-YO SIS. SHE NEVER COULD PLAY THE CELLO.

So, a'right a'ready!  Dale taught me how to ice skate. She taught me how to dance. She was really good at both, but I never let myself go the way she could. So, when we were kids (Dale was already in her teens), before any event (wedding, bar mitzvah, school event) she would drag me into her room, turn on her "record player," and make me dance with her. Thanks to Dale, I could do a bunch of the steps performed on stage by The Temptations — never very useful at a bar mitzvah unless I was going to be a back-up singer for "Walter Lebow and His Orchestra." I don't know how much more useful it was to line-dance, stomping my feet and clapping my hands to the beat of "Glad All Over" by The Dave Clark Five. But it was definitely fun.

Thinking of you, Dale, and feeling glad all over!

45 comments:

  1. Bittersweet.
    Lovely tribute.

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  2. Hugs, Mitchell. I know what you mean. I remember my maternal grandmother mostly from an image from Christmas back in the 90s...of her receiving something she really wanted for Christmas and how excited she got. I still remember her fairly clearly, but I feel bad for not being able to get home once I went away for school. :(

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    1. Writer:
      Always regrets, unfortunately. I wish I could put those completely behind me, too. But, as San Geraldo might say if he were being really creative: Let's burn that bridge when there's water under it...

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  3. A wonderful remembrance of your sister. I never had a sister to lose, but I lost my dad four years ago, unexpectedly. I have the message he left on his telephone, made a recording of it so I could preserve his voice. Sometimes it bothers me that I can't remember the sound of his voice and it's only been five years. But then Dad wasn't much of a talker.

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    1. Stephen:
      Sometimes I wish I had old tape recordings I once had of Dale. But then I'm grateful to have the memories.

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  4. I'm sending you a big cyber hug too...I never had a sister, but I understand what you were saying here, I think. And I know Dale is part of you forever. This was a beautiful tribute to her.

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    1. Kristi:
      Siblings are definitely a mixed bag. I'm grateful to have been given the ones I have, however things have turned out!

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  5. Hi Sweet cuz.... If anyone can relate... it's me! So glad I had the chance to visit her in Doncaster before she was gone..
    What's with the September birthdays and the BLOCK-KOLB Peeps?

    Love you and will see you in Espana one day!

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    1. Hi Sheree:
      I sure know you can! Your mother once complained to me about Uncle D and Dale dying in March and really putting a damper on her birthday month!

      Happy belated birthday, by the way! You still look 16! Would love to see you in Spain one of these days!

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  6. My screen went blurry all of the sudden (I'm crying like a ninny). I feel like I miss her, even though I never knew her. Lucky you. Lucky her.

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    1. Michelle:
      When San Geraldo reads this comment, he will try to figure out what went wrong with your screen!

      Sorry about that. The Dowager Duchess said the same thing. Definitely lucky me. And she was surrounded by love at the end... and she knew it. It was too brief, but it was a blessed life.

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  7. I have vague memories of Dale, but your stories bring her to life.

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  8. I'm very moved by the genuine affection you've express here. "No matter how much I said I was celebrating" her life and birthday, but really, still, the mourning and missing... Such a profound glimpse right there into the way your head works but your heart wins.

    I echo the fear you expressed, of letting go too much. Of healing too much. Of time passing and our minds forgetting. Of how it gets a little easier until one year you actually feel the loss of loss. But that is the natural course of things.

    Maybe the true homage is not in the depression. Maybe it's in the intention.

    Maybe it's said best in something as profound as what you've expressed here: I didn't choose to heal. I don't want to be human. I would choose instead to carry this, and hold on to it, and go through the pain of it every year.

    What an honor for her, to be missed with such earnest.
    And what an honor for you to have known such a woman.

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    1. Victor:
      We were unbelievably different and unbelievably close. We drove each other crazy and we idolized each other. I was definitely lucky to have had her as a big sister!

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  9. I would take it as a 'good sign' and that you are letting yourself move on and live your life....as I am sure Dale would want from her little brother.

    I too have an older sister (by 6 years) who would also drag me into her room on Friday and Saturday evenings before she went out to a dance and practice jiving! I could jive very well by the time I headed off to dances!! Another thing we have in common, bro!

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    1. Jim:
      The Duchess has a framed photo of me jiving (or maybe it was twisting) with my cousin at my aunt's wedding when I was 5 or 6. I was a master at that age. Then I grew up and found out how bad I really was. (Well I'm sure I can still twist... and in college I was actually good at the bump and even the double-bump -- KC & The Sunshine Band singing "Get Down Tonight.")

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    2. Hilarious!! Now that double bump took a lot of coordination!! KC forever!!!

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    3. Jim:
      It also went really well with Barry White's "Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe." But that one required a mix of double- AND single-bump.

      Much more complex than "Do a little dance" bump-bump "Make a little love" bump-bump "Get down tonight" bump-bump "Get down tonight" bump-bump... etc.

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  10. Oh this just touched my heart. She's alive and well and living in you and within you and without you.

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  11. Lovely tribute to your sister, and I'm sorry you lost her so young.

    I think about my parents and all they've missed in the 15 and 20 years they've been gone. But then who knows, maybe they haven't missed it. Maybe they know somehow. I hope your sister knows too. :)

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    1. Knatolee:
      I have no religion and I don't believe in an after-life (or at least I don't think I do... I have no proof either way). Even so, I do believe she and your parents have been watching us all along the way.

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    2. I'm religion-free too. ;) I figure I can't know what's going to happen next, but I like to think something goes on. I definitely don't think humans are the top of the universe's food chain. ;)

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  12. What a great post today. Sending you hugest, huggiest, hugs from across the pond. xox

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    1. Nubian:
      Hugs received gratefully. And they were really good hugs!

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  13. It's as plain to me as it will be to your sister that you most certainly have not forgotten, and that you never will.

    I reckon that in our lives most of us are a bit like Bambi, stumbling out into the unknown alone and then just getting on with it.

    I'm English, so I don't do hugs, but I am almost at the point of asking the Foreign Office if they have anyone in your area who could nip around and shake you warmly by the hand and then comment emotionally on the weather.

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    1. Owl Wood:
      You're so right that I haven't forgotten her. I even tell stories about her most days in my fractured Spanish.

      And I hope I don't come off as overly emotional but it's approximately 28C and sunny here today.

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  14. Mitch, what a lovely tribute to your sister.

    In a way you remembered her, by not feeling well on the day itself, just like all those years before, only this time you remembered after it happened.

    I have vague memories of my grandparents [both sides] but we still remember/joke about their peculiarities. Some of those things I see in my parents and siblings too. It's the little things that stick out, andwill last a lifetime.

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    1. Peter:
      A'ready was an expression Dale used all the time. A'right a'ready, enough a'ready, When are you gonna finish a'ready?... She married a Brit, and he had no idea what she was talking about. It became a running joke. He'd started finishing his sentences with "a'ready" and she would say he wasn't making any sense.

      And despite how different we were, there are times when I'll say or do something and think, "That was Dale."

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  15. Oh Mitch, what a beautiful tribute to a wonderful sister. I am glad you said maybe she hasn't missed it. Of course she hasn't, she hasn't missed a thing. I am a strong believer that the departed walk along with us, not in body but in heart and soul. That love is out there, that doesn't die, all that emotion is out there, in the ether, to live forever. There is no doubt your love for each other was strong, strong! She hasn't missed a darned thing :-)
    Much love my friend.
    Di
    xxxxx

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    1. YONKS:
      I love your way of looking at things! Thank you!

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  16. a lovely and personal post.... thank you

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    1. Thanks, John. It made me feel good to write it.

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  17. How nice that she lives so vividly in your memory. Try not to spoil it by letting her loss get you down. She sounds like a real "upper"!
    How nice you had such a sister.

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  18. She lives. I have a perfect picture in my head of her and I've never met her. So....wow.

    And I COVET the pink coat she is wearing and her wrinkle nosed smile.

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    1. Maria:
      Keeping her alive for others is my goal. I feel like San Geraldo really knows her too. That's important to me. As for the pink jacket, The Dowager Duchess has always had great (and cool) taste; Dale, too!

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  19. yes, we fear loss, but Love is always a Present, it does not have a Past.

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  20. This blog made me think about those close to me and if, or when rather, I experience those losses how I'll be devastated and how my life will be immediately altered and the sadness I'll exude. I suspect I'll be downright witchy.

    But at the same time I think about that, I think of my own demise and those that feel the same way of me, primarily my children who will feel a surmountable loss.

    Even though it comes across as a double standard, I tell them I don't want them to dwell on the death but remember the life, my life, and those moments meshed with theirs and smile.

    I only hope that when I experience loss, because it will be inevitable, I'll be able to take my own advice.

    Great blog and thanks for the share.

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    1. darkeyedbrunette:
      Thank you so much for your thoughtful message. It's especially meaningful since my sister was also a dark-eyed brunette and, like you, beautiful. I hope you don't dwell on the what-ifs and whens. I don't think my sister ever gave those much thought. Loss is hard enough to deal with when it happens and there's no preparing for it anyway. So enjoy every minute with your wonderful family and friends. I look forward to catching up on your blog. Thanks for stopping by!

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    3. You're quite welcome. I don't dwell on the inevitable but when reading content such as your blog it does trigger those thoughts momentarily.

      Sure, come on over and although my place is not as interesting as yours, the door is open and I look forward to seeing you there!

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