It’s with a heavy heart I write this week’s blog. My lovely, strong- willed, strong-minded sister Tina has just passed on.
She was in the fight of her life, for her life against a very aggressive cancer for eight months. But I don’t want to define her life by making it about cancer, I want to talk a little bit about this person who lectured me, argued me into attending tea parties for her dolls (at which, no tea was ever present I assure you), cheered me up when I needed it, told me the truth even when I didn’t want to hear it and more than anyone in my life, she made me laugh.
Tina had been fighting her whole life, just to be alive. She was born prematurely at a time when there were no cell phones, no internet, no medical technology to save a baby with underdeveloped lungs. Our brother, her twin, Timmy didn’t make it. She was the surviving twin, but I think that she always carried Timmy with her, including him and making him feel welcome in everything she did. When she had an aneurysm in brain and was up and walking around four hours after surgery, the doctors were surprised, none of us in the family was…Tina was indomitable.
She was forever known in the family as “Tattletale Tina”. She would rat us out to Mom and Mom would take the information, use it judiciously and then give some punishment to Tina because Mom would say, “and I don’t like tattletales!” Which I always thought was ironic since Mom always used the information Tina provided!
I think about Tina’s place in the family and that we really teased the hell out of her, and each other, there was no safe quarter in our house, about being a middle child. Dad always was her champion, since he was another middle child. I think that since Dad is gone I looked in her eyes and Jeffery’s to see him, they have his eyes and his sweet way.
She would always pout that bottom lip out, but then smile when it wasn’t working. She had so many battles with Mom as a teenager because she was being ‘dramatic’! But Tina was a tender person, with great strength and god help those who stood in her way when she wanted to accomplish something.
There are so many things that I am thinking about, like when I helped her move out of Mom and Dad’s, dragging all her belongings in and out of the front room and on to the porch several times because I was afraid Dad would wake up or someone would rat us out and I’d be in trouble as her co-conspirator.
I remember being in junior high and feeling so awkward and she was the head cheerleader, and the prom queen and the most popular girl, but she always included me. She never made me feel like I was a burden to have around as a little sister. She had an easy acceptance of people and let them know when they had exhausted her good graces.
I am remembering her baby shower for Jessica on Gilboa Hill when it snowed so much and Grandma Johnson (ha,I called her Grandma, just like on the Waltons) had to take a snowmobile to get back home.
Her garden in Conesville and her interrupting our visit while she grabbed her gun and shot at a rabbit that had the bad luck to discover those gorgeous vegetables. She missed that time, but got plenty of other ones along the way. Speaking of the garden, my late husband Michael used to say if he ever left me it would be in service of Tina and her tomatoes.
I remember she sent me so many junk emails I threatened to block her for a year if she didn’t stop. She said I don’t want to be blocked, I told her to knock it off then….she laughed, ignored me and of course, she was blocked. I let her off for good behavior at 11 months.
She had a conspiratorial smile. I would say something or give a look, and she would start laughing, that wonderful laugh and the world was a better place.
I know this is rambling and I apologize.
You see, my trip home last month was predicated on the notion that this would be my good bye to my Tina. But how do you say goodbye to someone like this? I don’t think the world will ever be ready for another person like this.
So I wish her god speed on her next adventure, I know she is going where ever she wants and doing whatever she wants, with that little smile and chuckle.
Travel safely my TT!