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 with 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, two Carols is confusing.) Carol added extra butter and extra marshmallows. Naturally, Gordon said her’s were the 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 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 and the kids in Montana over Mother’s Day. We stopped over to visit Carol’s mother who gave us a brown lunch bag with dried Candy Corn.
“I bought it last Halloween and put it aside to give to Gordon this spring. He loved his Candy Cord rock hard. Want to try some? 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 soft and chewy in fall, and rock hard like Gordon in spring (He also 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 he dropped along the trail the night he was lost. )
Ronnie: I don’t remember a lot about him, because our time with him was so short. He died when he was 2 1/2, nine months after you were born/died on the same day. We have a family story of how Ronnie loved “chee” – never wanted to stop eating it. One day at dinner, he had had enough, according to mom, who told him “Mo more cheese.” My cousin, Janet was sitting next to him. He conspiratorially whispered in her ear, “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 will 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 would like, so I’ll just imagine and make sure it’s something I like.
Today, I am sitting by Lake Opeka. I come here often. I have half of a bar of 70% delicious dark chocolate to share – Only 1/2 a bar because I’d eat your share and I don’t need that much chocolate at once. (since you aren’t here to have the other half). I open an individual bottle of white wine – Pinot Grigio, described as a “light, delicate” wine. In case you have never had dark Chocolate and white wine where you are, trust me, this is a good combination. Actually, I just checked. Red Wine is recommended with Dark Chocolate, but what do I know? I do know I like this combination on rare special days like today.
I savor 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.
when I finish, I pour the rest onto the sontes lining the shore. It doesn’t seem quite right to drink your half of even this small, one-serving bottle I picked up at the drugstore. Sadly, I watch it drain out of the bottle and disappear through the stones into the ground, kind of like you – drifting away from us in only seven hours. I’m glad to know I do have you, Brenda, my only sister, and at the same time sad you are not 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.