Dark Chocolate, White Wine and A Little Sister’s Birthday

Dear Little Sister Brenda,

Today, August 28, you would be 59 years old. Since you came and went so fast, all in the same day, I know nothing about you. All I can do is try and imagine. Daddy was the only one who saw you. He said you were “perfectly formed.”  Often I have wished I could have seen you. I’m sure you were beautiful.

I’ve brought along a couple items so we can celebrate  your birthday together – some goodies I imagine you might like.

First, though let me tell you about our brothers, Gordon and Ronnie.

Sometimes on days when I am remembering our brother, Gordon, I slowly eat a sweet, crunchy-gooey Rice Krispy Bar. Carol, his wife, made them for him. Yes, Gordon married a Carol (Yeah, two Carols is confusing.) Carol added extra butter and extra marshmallows.  Naturally, Gordon liked hers best.  Maybe you and I would both be making sweet, crunchy-gooey-Gordon-approved Rice Krispy bars! By the way, two of your nephews, Scott and Gerald married women named Jill. And people would have confused you with Brenda who was my business assistant for eighteen years. Brenda claimed she was you, coming back as a princess to make my life easier. Which she did!

Gordon also loved Candy Corn – dried out and rock hard. He was funny like that. He also liked Carol’s Blueberry Muffins, but he picked out the blueberries first. Yeah, I don’t get it either! The year after he died, Mom and Dad and I were visiting Carol in Montana on Mother’s Day. We stopped over to visit Carol’s mother who gave us a brown lunch bag with dried Candy Corn she had bought around Halloween the year before, and put aside to give Gordon the next spring – rock hard and just right for him. It was a little tradition she and Gordon shared. Every fall I buy Candy Corn and save some for the next spring. I enjoy it fall and spring. (He loved Skittles, which I don’t like – not sweet enough for me. Sadly, it was the only food he had in his pocket when he was lost. The searchers found Skittles along his trail. )

Ronnie – I don’t remember a lot about him, because he died at age 2 ½.  It was  nine months after you were born/died in the same day. We have a family story of how Ronnie loved cheese – never wanted to stop. One day at dinner, he had had enough, according to mom, who told him “no more cheese.” My cousin, Janet was sitting next to him and he conspiratorially whispered in her ear, “Ja, Ja, Chee, Chee.” We stifled our laughter. No, he didn’t get any more cheese. Cheese and Crackers were a frequent snack at our house, which, of course, Ronnie loved. So when I celebrate Ronnie, it’s with cheese and crackers.

You’ll notice this is all around food! Mom was a good cook.  How she did it with so little, I’ll never know. Daddy loved to eat it. He always knew the best brand of ice cream and he loved it best with pretzels. So it should come as no surprise, what I brought to celebrate your birthday has to do with food! I had no idea what you’d like, so I’ll just imagine.

Today, I’m sitting by a small lake where I often come. I have 70% delicious dark chocolate to share. Only 1/2 a bar because I’d eat your share (since you aren’t here to have the other half). I opened an individual bottle of Pinot Grigio – a white wine. In case you haven’t had Dark Chocolate and White Wine where you are, trust me, this is a good combination. Actually, I just checked.  A Red Wine is recommended with Dark Chocolate, but what do I know? I do know I like this combination on those rare special days like today.

And so I savored the taste of a white wine paired with the 1/2 bar of dark chocolate and thought of you sitting here with me. Yes, together celebrating your birthday. I can only imagine – just imagine, what fun we would have.

Then I poured out the second half of the bottle. It didn’t seem right to drink your share. I sadly watched it drain out of the bottle and onto the stones by the lake. I’m glad to know I do have you, Brenda, my only sister and sad not to have you here with me. I think of you often and once a year I celebrate your birthday. Sometimes I release a balloon. Today I raise a glass and taste the bittersweet richness of dark chocolate.

I think you would have enjoyed the chocolate and the wine.  Most of all, I think you would have enjoyed being with me.

I love you and miss you more than you can know.