Sunday, March 21, 2010

Happy Birthday, Nancy

Today would have been my sister's 56th birthday.  I say "would have been" because she passed away in 1991 following surgery.  You should have known my little sister.  She was a real party in a person.  She was in intensive care when she passed away.  She had worked for several years at Magee Women's Hospital in Pittsburgh as a labor and delivery nurse.  Her surgery had been at Magee Women's and she was surrounded by doctors and nurses as they were preparing to move her to a regular room.  Surgery was a success and soon she would be going home.  She was sitting up in bed telling a dirty joke (as Nancy was known to do).  And suddenly she was gone.  A pulmonary embolism had struck, and although they tried for many minutes to revive her, Nancy was gone.  When the intensive care dr. called to inform me of Nancy's passing, he said that she had suffered a massive coronary, I (unwilling to believe that she wouldn't have survived) asked how she was.  Finally he had to just blurt out that my sister was gone.  I'll never forget the wailing of my mom when I informed her.  And how difficult it was to tell my father who had been in the hospital for what seemed like forever.  You can see her here posing in a goofy hat, and can see what a character she was.

This is a photo of me and my little sister in the late 50's in our front yard.  That's the Ohio River in the background.  My mom used bobby pins to make my hair that curly, but Nancy's was all natural.  See, I was skinny once!  She was such a cutie.  When I was in first grade, we lived close enough to Vanport Elementary that we walked home for lunch.  One day my teacher was looking out the window and called me over.  Was that my little sister on the corner, she wanted to know.  And yes, it was.  In her short shorts and flip flops, Nancy had walked to school to meet me.  One of the neighbors worked at the post office with my dad and was off that day.  He called my mom to tell her that Nancy was at school.  Mom was so angry, and after that, Nancy was tied to the glider.  We didn't think of it as child abuse then, but it sure would be now.

Nancy was my best friend, although we did have our confrontations.  She was also my maid of honor.  Nancy never married,  she had a hysterectomy at a very young age, and after that felt that she had nothing to offer a man.  One of the biggest sadnesses of my life is that Nancy never knew what it was to be unconditionally loved by a man.  She eventually started working as a travelling nurse, specializing in labor and delivery.  My dad used to tell people that Nancy delivers babies, and Linda raises babies.  Nancy loved travelling, and worked in California, Tennessee, Virginia, and Maryland after she started travelling.  But wherever she was, we talked on the phone every day -- sometimes for hours.  I missed her so much when she wasn't around. 
One of the things that Nancy was most proud of in her life is that she had been to both Disneyland in California, and to Walt Disney World in Florida.  And here she is with her "good buddy" Mickey Mouse.  Like so many others who visit Disney, Nancy was hooked -- she was a Disney Fanatic.  You can't believe how many Disney items we found in her belongings after she passed.

And so, my dear, sweet, loving, little sister, I salute you.  There's so much in my life that I wish I could have shared with you, and by the way, you would love my grandkids.  I don't think I will ever stop missing you.

4 comments:

Mary said...

What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful person. Sometimes I still can't believe she's been gone 18 years. It seems like forever and yet the hurt is still there.

Pat said...

What a nice post you wrote about your sister. It brought tears to my eyes. (Today our folk group sang at a memorial service that was conducted by a local hospice program.......and I heard many such tributes....so I have had a teary-eyed day, for sure.) I'm glad you and your sister were so close, because you have a lot of wonderful memories that will keep her alive always in your heart.

Linda B said...

What a touching tribute to your sister. I didn't have a sister myself, but the loss must be extreme. You are so fortunate to have such wonderful memories of her.

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