Letters to My Sister
On the occasion of my sister Barbara's milestone birthday, I have chosen to publish a tribute to her.
Sometimes it's easy to find fault with our own flesh and blood, to take them for granted, or perhaps to even ignore them because we have more important things to do with our own lives.
But, when they leave unexpectedly without bidding you farewell, your world is irrevocably shaken to its core, and you are never quite the same. We are then reminded that we have no say in when we come into this world nor when we depart from it. And, it is up to us find meaning in the moments that we live, knowing that each person who comes into our presence does so for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.
Image Credit: My sister - from the family photo album by contrariaN creativE
People, like the magic in fairy tales, are always full of mischief, merriment and mystery. They don't always come in parcels with colorful wrapping paper and neatly tied bows. Often, we don't even recognize let alone acknowledge the gift when it arrives on our doorstep. But hopefully, if we have love in our hearts, we are willing to explore what lies hidden beneath the packaging.
On the Occasion of Her 65th Birthday
Since June 16th is your birthday, I couldn’t let this year go by without acknowledging this special occasion.
While you are not here in person to celebrate this milestone and receive your “gold card” that entitles you to a few precious perks like government pension benefits, no fee bank accounts, and free ferry rides during the week as a walk-on passenger, I know that you’re jumping up and down asking when you can blow out all 65 candles and devour your Black Forest Birthday Cake with vanilla ice cream.
I am also reminded of another momentous occasion you missed, your 40th birthday, which left me as well as other nears and dears feeling a deep sense of loss. But knowing you, I’m sure that you had a moment or two of suspended animation before you got your bearings and found all manner of fanciful friends in the Great Beyond to share your cake, blow up balloons, and play those godawful games like "Pin the Tail on the Donkey" (which thankfully I have skillfully avoided for most of my Earth-bound life).
I am not one who feels comfortable with birthdays and all the hoopla, while you on the other hand could always be counted on to toss a great party, including impromptu ones like “unbirthdays” as I recall. All of which brings me as to why I wanted to drop you a line today.
As I flipped through the pages of Mum’s family photo album, I came across one of you, a “Bonnie wee babe” as Dad used to call you, lying in a wicker basket on the beach and me who was keeping an eye on my unknown, unpredictable, and sometimes uppity young sister.
You were always a conundrum to me, which is probably why I was curiously peering down at you wondering what was going on in your wee world. I think by then I had figured out that I was an alien from Mars, but I wasn’t too sure just which paradise you had plopped down from, probably Never Never Land or Winkin Blinkin and Nod (your favorite spots in the universe).
Although you didn’t come with a manual full of standard operating instructions, you didn’t need to as you had a photographic memory which you could tap into whenever necessary. The rest of us were left in the dark as to how you functioned and that was just the way you liked it.
While some knew your entertaining and ethereal side, I loved your rich imagination and your spirit of spunk and serendipity. You taught me to lighten up, to find joy in the moment, and to never forget the smiles on the faces of white daisies in summer.
It is those wild flowers that your sons brought Mum before she left planet Earth. And, it is those white daisies around me now that reflect your timeless spirit and eternal soul, just as Mother Nature does when she gives birth to new mysteries of life and makes our journey worth living.
Image Credit: Daisies, may they smile at you forever by contrariaN creativE
Beguiling & Bewitching
This magnetic munchkin and sometimes naughty nixie always knew how to twitch her nose to bring a little magic and merriment into everyone's life.
On the Occasion of Her Birthday - In Absentia
You left this earth years ago … just before your 40th birthday, although something tells me that you’re not alone now.
You’re definitely out there in the universe chatting on the phone to someone.
I just wanted to stop by and say hello plus give you a special Happy Birthday greeting.
You were always a little daring and precocious when we were growing up.
But, your creative and nurturing qualities found their true place as a mother and a wonderful Coordinator of Special Events!
Underneath it all, you were the quintessential eternal ‘flower child’.
And your boisterous brand of make-believe was a gift to all those who knew you.
Being an elusive and ethereal creature of dual personality, a Gemini by birth, you were always a constant enigma to me – a somnambulent spirit as I recall.
You yearned to breathe free, race the wind, and search for miracles.
But when we connected, (as Yahootee and Biddy Cook), you took me by the hand and introduced me to another world – a place without limits or expectations, something I had never seen before.
How I admired your spontaneous wit and appreciation of the absurd (which complemented my fondness for black humor). I was especially impressed by the crazy captions that you wrote beneath the childhood photographs of students that appeared in our high school annual that we worked on together.
And, I saw the affection in your eyes as you chided me when I forgot the words to music we sang together.
I remember how we couldn't wait to try out Eeyore and the Fairy Princess felt hand-puppets,all part of a carefully crafted Christmas theatre stage that Mum and Dad had created. I remember building those blanket forts on a chilly winter's night in front of a roaring fire in the living room. And I remember those wonderful home-made deviled-egg sandwiches, cheese scones, and warm cornmeal muffins with syrup on top that became part of our Sunday ‘high tea’ tradition not so long ago.
And when we had our ups and downs, we always made up … ‘cause that’s what sisters do.
Although life’s events have separated us both in space and time, you showed me that imagination is a gift of unconditional love and joy. It is a precious way to touch the heart and soul of another being in this endless universe and to know that we are never alone if we share this magic with others.
Entrenched so much in my own thoughts, I never really told you how much I loved you and your make-believe world when you were here. So, I hope you’re listening now Biddy Cook, because I’m so very proud to be your sister.
Image Credit: To my sister, photo by contrariaN creativE
A Lyrical Lady in a Locket
Who says you're not that giddy gal with the curl in the middle of her forehead? I've got the picture to prove it!
I know you are still very much with us … some more than others.
And while I can’t speak for all of those who knew you, I realize now that you never really left me.
You’re forever part of my heart and soul as I pursue my own journey through life.
It’s good to know you’re with me because you’ll never let me forget the lyrics to the ever-changing song of life, nor the eternal oneness anthem of the universe.
Image Credit: Sisters in a Locket - contrariaN creativE
"Celebrating a birthday recalls one more time a person's unique and unrepeatable life, and the mystery of having made it into the world at all."
-- R. Brian Stanfield, The Courage to Lead Transform Self, Transform Society, New Society Publishers, Gabriola Island, 2000, p. 93.
Every day passes by, and we're on the move with lots to do, and plenty of places to go. How many times do we stop, take a breath, smell the roses, and appreciate what we have and who is in our life that really matters?
My Bonnie lies over the ocean, My Bonnie lies over the sea, My Bonnie lies over the ocean, Oh bring back my Bonnie to me.
As I gaze upon your face and the figure of young woman sitting upon a rock wall in the garden, I am reminded of a German fairy tale, not unlike the Greek heroines and goddesses who bewitched, bothered, and bewildered more than few males whose destinies were inextricably interwined with these perplexing personalities.
Your haunting pensive look and your subtle fleeting smile are a compelling invitation to know the soul that lies deep within your being.
Just as Heinrich Heine's poem "Die Lorelei" revealed the alluring quality of an enchanting voice belonging to a seductive siren and majestic maiden who sat upon a river rock inviting brash young men in boats to her side, you too knew how to tempt the fates and lure unsuspecting wayfarers beyond safe shores. Legends abound about the dangers of becoming entangled with a wondrous water witch while other stories reveal the sorrow of the siren, a symbol of tragic love in a tempestuous world. And you, a loquacious lass whose passion for lore and lyrical refrains, like the Lorelei, could enthrall, enchant, and enrapture all those who came under your spell.
But you are also an integral part of a long lineage of eloquent nonconformists, captivating libertines, and those who shared with you, a fondness for spirits that often consumed them more often than not. Like John Wilkes, an 18th century English radical, rake, and ribald humorist, with whom you share your middle name, you had a sharp tongue, a quick wit, and a charm that never failed to impress friends and keep foes at a distance. You inherited his reputation as an instigator of pranks, his keen ability with a pen to poke fun in poetic form, and his patently impatient attitude towards boring people.
So you see my dear, it is not surprising that you, like your namesake, "sought eagerly every form of amusement that [you] could find outside the family". And even though you have departed for another paradise, playground, and pondering pool, you still have ties to those who have preceded you and those who will follow you. Your gift is your eternal spirit which lives on in the hearts and souls of all those who have been touched by your life.
Image Credit: An indelible image from the family photo album retrieved by the contrariaN creativE
Subtitle Quote Source: Scottish folk song whose origin is unknown.
Quote Source: That Devil Wilkes, R.W. Postgate. New York: The Vanguard Press, 1929, p. 6.
To celebrate the arrival of the newest member of your clan
Image Credit: Christmas Bells - photo by contrariaN creativE
No doubt you're ringing those chimes in the otherworld together with some help from a band of other wily women you hang out with including our Mum, grandmother, and of course your mother-in-law.
Your first grandson, Luke (6 lbs. 15 1/2 oz.) arrived a couple of days early, on the auspicious occasion of the Winter Solstice. I have a feeling that all of you had a hand in choosing the date of his departure from the womb and were holding your breath as he made his way into the world.
There's something very magical about these numbers that were aligned for such a remarkable event -- born at 11:09 pm on 21/12/12). And, to make things even more memorable, Luke arrived the day after the 5,125 year-old Mayan calendar had forecast the end of the world as we know it. Another interpretation might suggest that perhaps the world would be entering a new uncharted era of human life as we know it -- hopefully a more thoughtful, compassionate, and caring one.
So, get ready to dig into a fine feast and give these proud parents a fine toast to honor this blessed event. If they're not serving any bubby up there, maybe you can say a special something when they serve the flaming plum pudding and brandy sauce.
With much love from your big sister...
Through the art of letter writing, we women pass on our wisdom and our unique way of being in the world.
One reviewer call this little gem, a "literary lap-dance". Well, we'll leave you to be the judge of that. All I can say is that the stories sisters share are invaluable, the glue that gives them the giggles and helps them heal or get over the humps in trying times when nothing else seems to work.
You'll never be at a loss for words by the time you've finished reading this worthwhile book on how to pen a heart-felt letter or note.
A timeless tome that invites you to look beneath the surface of things to find what makes life worth living.