Tuesday, May 19, 2015

6 March 2008 Joyce

My sister passed away. She was the first of our siblings to leave. She had been ill for a while so it wasn't a surprise, but it doesn't lessen the sadness.

I'm not sure what happens in this day of digital images, but I suspect most families when film was king were fairly consistent in photo practices with the first one or two children photographed constantly while the later children are barely seen in photographic memories. From old family albums, my parents certainly followed that pattern with a steadily declining number of photos with each passing child. The picture below pre-dates me and is but one of a few of Joyce, but Joyce is looking like Easter in her checkered coat.

I was by many years the youngest of the family. My eldest sister and only brother were very near adults from my early memories. My two other sisters, including Joyce, were close enough to my age that I was able to spend some of my youth growing with them. For a few short years I remember fun summer days we spent with my mom. I also remember many, many Cleveland Indians games attended with my sisters. It was a time when Saturday home games were Ladies Days and my mom made up the difference so I could tag along. It was a ritual for us to sit by the bullpen during the game and wait by the players' exit after the game for a glimpse of the players and a chance for an autograph or a photo. Joyce's favorite ballplayer in those days was a shortstop named Larry Brown.

It's funny the random memories I have from those days. The three youngest of us were expected to clean on Saturdays. I remember cleaning days since we were allowed to use my parents stereo to play records while we worked. We had a really small above-ground pool into which the three of us would climb and spend silly, goofy afternoons splashing water out. I also remember walks we would take with mom to shop at a completely awful store called Zayre. It seemed like a blink and everyone was grown and gone.

Joyce and I stayed close into adulthood. We were the two children who most often visited my parents on Sundays. We would sit with my parents and play pinochle when the weather was bad or lawn darts when the weather was good. Joyce was known as the only family member so bad at Lawn Darts that she was able to toss the darts backwards and away from the target ring. She was also the person who gave me a love of photography. She had purchased a 35mm Ricoh and progressed beyond the capabilities of the unit. She was looking for a home for it and I bought it. Many, many years later I have great memories of taking photos with my first 35mm camera. The Ricoh stayed with me for a number of years until the body finally wore out. If you enjoy the images in this blog, you can thank her.

Until my most recent work, I used to set aside her birthday each year. I would take a day away from work to mow her lawn, do yard work, and plant flowers for her. She always wanted impatiens in her yard. Every year, we would get a Christmas tree for her and help her decorate it.

Joyce loved cats. She always had beautiful cats for companions. Tom and Sidney below were two of her later ones with images from the digital age.



There were a lot of memories to think of in the late, quiet time at the funeral home. I hate these places. It's ironic, home is supposed to be a place of happiness, but the last two "homes" for some many people are the gloomy confines of a nursing home and one last hurrah in here.

It was strange to walk down the stairs of the funeral home and be taken back to my first visit to one of these places. The cigarette smoke is gone, but I was surprised at my grandmother's wake to walk own the stairs and into a funeral room basement that looked not much different than this one so many years later and find relatives drinking coffee, smoking, and laughing. It seemed so incongruous. I don't think my brother understood why I passed on the post-cemetery opportunity to return to the funeral home and most likely this room for a social reception.

I don't believe in the afterlife. I have a hard time "celebrating" the departure of someone through a religious service. I will miss my sister. She was a wonderful person. Just this once, I will hope for her sake there is a Rainbow Bridge so she can have a chance to once again cuddle her cats.

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