I hope you will bear with me for my blog this time as I recently lost my sister and I would like to dedicate my piece this month to her. Please have a cup of coffee with me and get to know my sister, Louse.
Louise was a character with a fiery temper and a strong will. She was older than me by seven years and I was always a pain in her lower back part! As children, we were not close at all and sometimes I’m sure she wished I was nonexistent but as years passed love grew and I can remember vividly at her wedding sobbing hysterically as if she was moving to a foreign country rather than a few blocks from our house.
One memory that stands out more than any was when my darling sister decided I should have a home permanent for a special occasion. My mother wasn’t at home at the time and thus the torture began. The outcome was a frizzy mess which my sister attempted to fix by means of clipping away the pieces of hair that were sticking out and putting bobby pins and barrettes in place to hold the rest of the unruly pieces down. It was my one and only home permanent!
When I grew up and married the dynamics changed drastically. We became very close although the miles separated us. We talked on the phone often and took pleasure in the times that both families could be together. Easter was the one holiday we always made a point of sharing; one year in her home and the next in mine. The kids coloured Easter eggs and after they were in bed at night the bunny along with the help of Louise and me saw that seven little baskets were filled with treats. I have to admit that a few of the candies never actually got into the baskets but I think the bunny made allowances for hungry mothers.
A few years ago my sister was diagnosed with dementia and thus began a heartbreaking journey into a world that none of us could be a part of. She had to be moved to a facility to be cared for. I would visit as often as I could and in the beginning, she still knew me. She would fill up with tears when I left her and I thought that was the hard part, but I was wrong. Then came the time when I went to visit her and she didn’t know who I was. I found myself pleading with her to remember me but to no avail. I didn’t see her as often but kept in touch with family as she slowly disappeared into herself.
When I knew her time was short and I couldn’t get to kiss her one last time, I asked the phone be put beside her and I told her I loved her and said my final goodbye. I even sang her “You are my sunshine” and I am a terrible singer but maybe somewhere deep within she heard her sister’s squeaky voice and it made her smile.
I wrote this poem in her memory and I would like to close by sharing it with you. I call it “Her Palace of Memories”.
Her palace of memories
Dedicated to my sister, Louise who passed away March/3/2018
She’d build a palace of memories and start with a single room
With ornaments from Christmas and Halloween a witch’s broom
Her first room became so full she’d need to add another
Starting with a table lamp that had belonged to our dear mother
There were pictures of her wedding day and even some of mine
Easter mornings in our housecoats, now didn’t we look fine?
Then along came her baby boys one two and three
Another room added to save more memories
Later a baby girl, now her family numbered four
Her palace looked like a giant five and ten cent store
Pictures, and knick knacks and silly little gifts
Piled in her palace to give her a lift
What once had been a single little room
Was now a palace where memories were strewn
Time passed and her family was now fully grown
She and her husband were finally on their own
But every so often she added something new
To her palace of memories which steadily grew
Up to now her memories were happy as can be
But nothing lasts forever and soon a tragedy
Her husband passed away leaving her on her own
She often went to her palace so she didn’t feel alone
One day she stepped into the room with pictures by the score
She looked at each one carefully not knowing them any more
Who were these people in her palace hanging on her wall
She tried so hard to remember but just could not recall
She kept returning to the pictures trying to remember each place
Perhaps if she knew where it was she might recognize the face
Looking at each picture over and over again
Struggling so hard to remember who, where and when
The friendly face would blur she’d turn away in pain
Perhaps another day she’d try but sadly it was in vain
The walls began to crumble and slowly fade away
Her memories lay shattered in the rubble dark and gray
She searched through the broken pieces picking up each picture frame
There were many friendly faces but she couldn’t recall a name
I went to visit her one day with a picture in my hand
I showed it to her lovingly; I knew she’d understand
That the image she was seeing was us as little girls
Two little sisters one in pigtails; one in curls
She looked at the picture and much to my surprise
Turned her face to me with a question in her eyes
I don’t know who these people are and you’re a stranger too
I begged her to remember, saying “It’s me sis, I love you
She nodded politely and pointed to the cookies with a smile
I handed her a couple and sat there for a while
And then I kissed her on the cheek and sadly said goodbye
She ate another cookie; I turned away to cry
I left her room that day and as I stepped outside her door
I left with a heavy heart; her palace was no more
I thank you for taking a coffee break with me today.