Thursday, October 10, 2019
Yesterday, I dropped into the nursing home to visit my sister, Elaine. She was in a quiet mood but very alert and we had a long talk. Of course, much of the time while she talks, the key subjects are movies, actors, dancing, and music. That’s where she prefers to keep her head most of the time, as an appreciator or critic. We also spoke some about our mom and dad, well mostly she did and shared some memories.
She’s repeatedly told me how much our dad loved plunging into the polar plunge at Sulpher Springs, OK, not far from the small town where my family lived. The family’s frequent getaway trips to the plunge occurred before I was born. Elaine tells me about accompanying his dives into freezing water when she was six or seven years old. When I wonder how that felt to her, she quietly says, “The water was cold.”
Yesterday, she continued, saying that afterwards, the family (our mom and eldest sister were in the group) piled into the car and traveled to Weewoka, OK, also not far from home, to eat fried chicken. The Weewoka restaurant always closed on Sundays, but it’s owner, a close family friend, always opened for a couple of hours to provide the swimmers with wonderful chicken dinners.
Elaine describes that fried chicken like a child ready to lick her lips. For many of her adult years she strictly was a vegan, but remembering those childhood special events seems to move her words closer to the action. She’s spoken of the polar plunge a few times, and only yesterday added those chicken-trip endings.
The family lived in Seminole, OK, where I was born, and whatever I’ve known about those years were the bits and pieces that my two big sisters described. Just weeks after my birth, our father died in an auto accident, and growing up for me was very different from my sisters’ early life experiences.
These days, I can hear differently Elaine’s words and cherish her reflections. It’s lifting to picture more our family’s early days. At this point in my sister’s life and mine, we can share instead of battle. I relish her best memories and will hold onto our good moments.
Dear Friends: It’s about adjusting to the inevitable, and saddening beyond words. Diana