It has taken a long time for me to get around to writing about my sister Sarah here. Perhaps I was afraid I couldn't do her justice. Maybe a fear I couldn't make her real enough to those who read it. But through this holiday season she has been on my mind more than little bit. So now I think it is time to try. Allow me to tell you about my sissy.
Mother had been married before Daddy. She had two beautiful little girls in the 40's. The oldest was Edna. The younger was Sarah. Most of their growing up years it was just them. Then in 1959 mother wed Daddy. And in 1960 they were blessed with me. Well, they at least thought I was a blessing.
Edna and Sarah were mortified that mother might breast feed me, so I was a bottle baby. And the two of them played a roll in picking my name; Barbara Lynn. It was quickly shortened to Barbie. My earliest memories of Sarah involve a head full of curls and many giggles. She loved to have fun. She danced on the edge of being bad, but never crossed over.
There are memories of rides in automobiles with her and her friends. The scent of cigarettes, hairspray and open beer bottles mingling. Sarah taught me to scream much to mother's chagrin. She'd lock me in the bathroom closet to hear me scream. But never let it go too long.
Somewhere before I reached Hannah's age, she had married her high school sweetheart, Eddie and begun a family of her own. I remember being so jealous over that new baby's attention. (Sorry Holly) But Sarah found ways to make it okay, showing me how to fold the clothe diapers and finding other ways to involve me with my young niece's care.
Sarah is the one I remember baking cookies with. Rolling out dough. Cutting shapes. Decorating. Eating plenty of raw dough. Giggling. She's the one that taught me to put peanuts in my coke.
Sarah taught me to fly a kite in the jenny's pasture beside our house on Cook's road. She drew a horse on my chalk board so lifelike and real, it's weeks before I erase it. She's the one who showed me to hunt for four leaf clovers and make a daisy chain at her and Eddie's little rent house by the train tracks. Heaven Scent perfume lingering in the air.
Everything was beautiful to Sarah. Joy abounded in creation and creatures. She thought if she could touch a cloud it would feel like cotton candy. She had a way with animals. Having them trust her. Mending them when they were hurt. I think Hannah has it, too.
I remember trips to sand bars with Sarah. Swimming. Picnicking. Swinging high, so very high on an old rope swing. Sarah also always knew where the best hamburgers and french fries could be found. And great songs on the juke box. "Me and you and a dog named Boo" "Big Blue Diamond"
As an adolescent that was sometimes feeling chunky and oh, not so cool Sarah found ways to make me feel special. Outfits she whipped out by hand. Perfume. I think perhaps she was the first person in the family who began to try to treat me as an adult. Let me stay with her and "see" my boyfriend who lived not far from them.
High school came for me. I seem to be more and more busy. Sarah's life is too. There is a handsome young son now, Clay. Sarah works and still finds time to do a thousand mama and wife things. Her van has a bumper sticker about a women's place is at home and she should go there right after work. I baby sit some for her in the summer's. I can't believe she allowed me to care for her children. All I ever knew of children before mine, was the time I spent with hers.
The women folk gathering over at Sarah's house to watch an Elvis movie while the men gathered elsewhere to watch Monday night football.
She was left handed, but was known at work for being able to run the calculator with her right hand and copy down the results with her left. She rode horses with Eddie. She sewed with or without a pattern. She was known for sleep walking on occasion and claimed to have sleep driven at least once.
I graduate high school and go on to college in Nacogdoches. Sarah and I exchange some letters. But Edna is the letter writer. Sarah prefers to catch me on the phone. Daddy is gone. Mother has met Polk, Jr. and plans are made for their wedding.
Sarah puts together an idea to take Mother to the Palace in Beaumont to see Conway Twitty for a "bachelorette" party. Sarah's van packed to capacity with women of all ages. All linked together one way or another. On the way down there, I had such an over whelming sense of foreboding. And it centered around Sarah. I closed my eyes and silently prayed (and I wasn't all that spiritual then folks) "no Lord. Not here, not now. Too many mother's. Too many lives changed."
We proceeded to have a wonderful time at the concert. Mama acted like a teenager when Conway walked by our table in the steak house headed to his private room. I swear I think she almost swooned. We all arrived home safely. The wedding is fast approaching. Not another thought did I give to my strange feelings that night.
Then one night I am awakened by Mama. It seems Sarah and Eddie had been out to eat. They had come home and Sarah thought she needed to tend to a load of clothes out in her laundry room near the house. She had stepped out the door and down the steps and been bitten by a copper head. Eddie killed the snake and had her at the hospital. Polk was taking Mama there. No need to worry.
And one moment Sarah was laughing and joking with those in the ER. And the next she was gone. Differing opinions of just what happened. The snake venom? Perhaps she didn't need the anti-venom? Perhaps she was allergic? Perhaps something from the scarlet fever she had as a child caused it?
Does it matter? Sarah was gone. Lives forever changed. She was in her thirties. I've already out lived her by more than 10 years!
I saw her once more, in a dream. We were at her house. She was trying to leave. I was trying to stop her. She was trying to reassure me that things here would be alright. I was left with the impression she was with the baby she miscarried in between Holly and Clay.
But you're in my thoughts Sarah. You're still sitting on one leg tucked beneath you, sunglasses perched atop your head. Hand around a mason jar full of ice water. You are ageless and timeless and will always be with me.
Precious gifs by Emma.