Thank God for little sisters! They are to be loved and cherished. Mine always has been. But we lost her the other day and my heart is filled with grief. I will truly miss my only sibling but she will remain a part of my very soul forever.
We were born during the deepest throes of the Great Depression and throughout our growing-up years; my sister was really my best friend and confidant. We truly loved each other. She was only a year and a half younger than I, so, we were almost always in the same school at the same time. We even went to college together where we both met our spouses, giving us another bond since all of us were in school together.
My sister’s name is Mary Louise Washburn but when my mother brought her home from the hospital, I said, “She looks like a doll.” So, among family she has always been “Dolly.”
We have been unable to see each other frequently in recent years but with modern electronics we have kept in close contact. Her husband is a retired professor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and it is a long way over the mountain.
She was always a lovely gentlewoman of compassion and character and many times my protector. I remember Benny, a neighborhood bully, who was fond of harassing the other kids on the block.
One day, Benny took his turn with me. In a flash, Dolly, who could not have been more than four years old at the time, streaked by with a Pepsi bottle raised above her head. I will always retain the vision of Benny in full flight with my little sister at his heels.
Once in high school, they were holding the annual election of the Valentine’s “King and Queen” of hearts. The election went on for a week as students bought “votes” for their choice at a penny apiece. About mid-way through the week, one of my friends asked if I knew that I was leading the “King” voting.
I was amazed because I was not then nor have I ever been exactly “King of Hearts” material. It didn’t take me long to figure out what was going on. Sure enough, my sister had enlisted the aid of her friends and they were spending a good portion of their allowances voting for “big brother.”
However, they soon ran out of money and I lost but I won a memory that will be with me a lot longer than the “King of Hearts” title would have lasted.
Little sisters, unfortunately, are the brunt of a lot of teasing and probably well-intentioned mistreatment from big brothers and I am afraid mine had to endure her share.
I learned how trusting they are. I was intrigued when I received my first air rifle and first heard the story of William Tell. I didn’t have a bow and arrow but I had an air rifle, an apple and a little sister who trusted her big brother so intensely that she allowed me to shoot the apple off of her head.
I had the limited good sense to make her face backward and wear an old Army helmet. That was little justification to my parents when they found out about it and needless to say I didn’t see that air rifle for many, many months.
And then there was the shoe store episode. Do you remember when shoe stores had those X-ray machines that supposedly allowed the salesperson to fit shoes better? You could stick your foot in it and see the bones in your feet. On one trip to the shoe store when my parents were busily engaged in other shopping, I thought it would be interesting to see a hand in the machine.
My little sister obligingly stuck both hands under the machine and I enjoyed watching her wiggling finger bones. This was so neat that we decided that I should take a look at her brain.
My parents reappeared just as I was helping my sister stick her little head in the opening designed for feet. Our parents put a stop to that right away even though we had not yet learned that X-rays could cause permanent injury to brain cells.
My first cigarette was procured by my little sister at the insistence of a neighborhood chum and me. Do you remember those “scavenger hunts” in which you were given a list of objects and the one who could collect all of the items fastest won the game?
Well, we knew no one was going to give two little boys cigarettes, so, we talked my trusting little sister into knocking on a neighbor’s door with the believable tale that she was on a church scavenger hunt and had all the items but two cigarettes and an empty Pepsi bottle.
She threw in the Pepsi bottle just to make her story a little more plausible. Who could resist the little girl’s innocent plea? My young friend and I smoked the cigarettes, got sick and needless to say, we didn’t send my sister back on any more scavenger hunts.
As we grew older, our relationship took on a more mutual social alliance. She could always provide me with a date with one of her friends and I could reciprocate among my buddies. In fact, it was my sister who suggested that I ask my future wife, Barbara, for our first date as college students.
Having a sister in college with me was a very good thing. She could keep an eye on my behavior and straighten me out when I needed it. We each had 17 dollars a week to spend on food, entertainment, laundry and all other non-tuition expenses. Toward the end of almost every week, Dolly would always slip me a couple of dollars of her allowance.
During those days at Wake Forest University, chapel attendance was required four days a week at 10 o’clock each morning. We all had assigned seats and monitors would check each seat against their list.
Because we were seated alphabetically, my sister and I sat next to each other. We each had five excused “cuts” per semester. If I had not arrived by the designated hour (which was frequently) she would slide over into my seat and my absence was assigned to her. Each semester, I wound up the beneficiary of both her excused absences as well as mine. God love her!
I don’t recall any jealousy between us even though she was the good student in the family and I was always being admonished to “make the Honor Roll like Dolly.”
After college, I went into the Army, we both got married; started our families and she and I have never lived in the same town again. Modern life is cruel that way and I always hoped that we would be closer together someday instead of 500 miles apart.
But even in death, we will always remain close. She will always be close to my heart and I will always love her. I cherish the memory of my little sister and our special relationship through the years.
Rest in Peace, dear little sister, Rest in Peace.
I am more convinced than ever that God first made the angels and then he made little sisters. Thank you, God!
John Brock is retired and lives in Georgetown County. He can be reached at this newspaper by mail or by Email: email@example.com. His website is www.SouthernObserver.com.
Opinions that appear on this page in Letters to the Editor or in columns do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.
Leave a Response
Notice about comments:
The National Transportation Safety Board is recommending lowering the legal blood alcohol content limit for drivers from .08 percent to .05 percent. They say it will decrease the number of traffic fatalities. Do you agree with this idea?