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birthday cake with colorful candles

Today would have been my sister’s birthday.

She lived all her life with a tumor in her brain and severe epilepsy. It was a head injury she sustained during a seizure that ended her life eight years ago.

Although she was mentally disabled, my sister still found enjoyment in life.

She could sit and stitch little animals and cartoon characters for hours. Her exact likenesses of Snoopy always amazed me, especially when I hated embroidery work and was terrible at it.

She loved dogs of all shapes and sizes and most often had one. In her younger years, she belonged to a 4-H group that taught her how to train her dogs and she used that knowledge on all the dogs she owned during her lifetime.

I’d say she took pleasure in tormenting me, the baby sister who arrived fourteen years after she’d claimed that title. Until the day I finally realized my sister would never have a normal life by society’s standards and the reasons behind it, we often fought like, well, sisters.

She learned to play the guitar, admittedly not great, but she did better than I could in forcing her fingers into the positions required to make the chords on the strings. She’d sit in her room and strum away, practicing the songs her guitar instructor taught her to play.

My sister was a dreamer, always thinking about what ifs. She’d thumb through catalogs and magazines, rattling off ideas of what if we went there, or what if we got this or that item.

One of her biggest dreams was to travel to Graceland and see the home where Elvis Presley lived. My parents made that dream happen for her when I was eleven. They pulled me out of school for two weeks and we went on a cross country road trip. To be honest, being stuck in the backseat of the car with my sister for days on end was no picnic, but it was pretty cool to see the excitement on her face as we rolled into Memphis.

As you may have guessed, she was a huge fan of Elvis Presley. Her room was covered in Elvis posters, she had every record he ever recorded, she owned several Elvis dolls and could sing the lyrics from every single one of his songs. Every single one.

So in tribute to my sister, to celebrate her birthday, here is a little YouTube video of Elvis.

She Who Wishes She Could Say Happy Birthday One Last Time

 

 

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kim in magazine

This is my brother.

(The mechanically inclined one, not the cowboy one.)

I was born his senior year of high school, so talk about crashing the party…

He has always had a love of cars and began restoring vintage cars way back  before I was old enough to beg him to let me drive his Mustang (which he still has not).

Anyway, he got into dressing the part to go along with the cars he was showing.

Last fall, he competed in a contest for best Era Image and took third place. I thought his costume looked pretty snazzy and we were all excited to see this picture in print.

Although he never let me drive any of his cars, he did let me go with him a time or two.

Kim and I with old carOf course, costumes were required.

The reason I look so particularly happy in this photo is because:

1. It was mid-July and boiling hot.

2. We skipped lunch.

3. I had a hot date that night with Captain Cavedweller and we were running late.

My brother completely restored the gorgeous Model A car behind us. I think the etched glass (and the color) are my two favorite things about it.

Big, hearty congratulations, Kim, for placing in the contest and thanks for all the times over the years you let me tag along.

She Who Still Wants to Drive the Mustang

 

 

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merry christmas sage and burgundyWishing you a very Merry Christmas! May it be filled with love, laughter, and many special, magical moments!

And Happy Birthday to my Dad!

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Today is my Mom’s birthday.

She and Dad said they are keeping it low-key.  That’s okay. You can do that when you’re 80-something.

I thought I’d do a little “this is your life” post for her today…

dollie and chicken

This is Mom with her pet chicken, circa early 1930s.

dollie and farm friends

The first decade of her life was spent on a farm in the Ozarks of Missouri. Then my grandparents packed up and moved with six kids (and I think there was a dog, too) to Oregon.

dollie middle school

Mom made new friends and settled into life in their new home, although she says she always missed Missouri in the fall, when all the leaves would change colors. My parents took us to Missouri in the fall when I was eleven and even then I could appreciate what she meant because the trees were amazing.

dollie and lawrence

Mom was particularly fond her older brother Lawrence. From stories she’s told, it sounds like they got into a lot of trouble (and fun) together.

dollie with attitude

Mom, who was all of a size two, heard the buzz about a new boy moving to town when she started her senior year of high school.

It didn’t take long for her to spy the handsome lad…

teen russell

And the two of them to fall in love.

dollie bathingsuit

Mom would kill me graveyard dead if I didn’t live several hours away for posting this photo, but the summer after she graduated from high school, they opened a pool in town and had girls from the varying rural areas participate in a beauty contest. Mom represented their little community and had her photo in the paper. Dad thought she’d destroyed the newspaper clipping years ago, but I found it one day when I was digging through a box of photos and made a copy before she knew about it.

Mom

I call this Mom’s glamour photo. I think of all the photos I’ve seen of her, this is my favorite. Just love her sassy attitude and smile in this one.

dollie and russ

Mom and Dad married the year after they graduated and began a life together.

dollie with three kids

Six years later, they’d welcomed my two brothers and sister to the family.

dollie with karla

Twenty years after they said “I do” I came along and not long after that, my oldest brother and his wife had their first baby. Please ignore the fine 1970s fashions and hairstyles displayed in this photo. I’m sure they were right in style at the time the photo was taken. I’m the goofy looking child sitting next to Mom.

dollie anniversary

More grandkids and many years later, we threw a big party to celebrate Mom and Dad’s fiftieth anniversary. Mom didn’t want us to go to “all the fuss and bother” but I think she had as much fun as Dad.

dollie 80th

And this is Mom on her 80th birthday a few years ago. Dad and I spent months plotting a surprise party and much to our surprise, she didn’t find out about it before hand.

Mom has taught me a lot over the years.

By watching her host huge holiday gatherings, I learned about being a gracious host, how to prepare before hand, and how to make enough mashed potatoes to feed fifty people.

She taught me how to sew, although that one was a painfully learned skill that caused us both much frustration (due to a lack of skill on the student’s part!)

She taught me how to make a house look clean in less than five minutes when unexpected company pulls up at your door. And how to deep-clean your house from top to bottom at least twice a year. (I may be a little behind schedule on that one…)

She attempted to teach me how to iron. I remember watching her iron things like pillow slips and cloth napkins along with piles of clothes. I still hate ironing, even if I do know how to do it properly.

She taught me how to plant, grow and harvest a garden. She also tried to teach me how to can produce but being a very unwilling student, I just went through the motions without retaining the info. The big pressure cooker still scares me. A lot.

She gave me a love of reading. First by reading to me every night as I was little, then by listening as I read to her. We still share a love of books.

She gave me an appreciation for pretty things. She had lovely china dishes we used on special occasions and I always liked the way the pieces shined in the cupboard, just waiting to be taken down and set on a beautiful table to mark some event. Sometimes the event was just having someone join us for dinner.

She taught me how to manage money, to be mindful of what I buy, and to be thankful for what I have.

And today I’m thankful for my Mom.

Happy, Happy Birthday, Mama!

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