Driving and Biking in the Big City

A mystical passenger

with 7 comments

I drove back to the Big City Sunday from my hometown on the bayou with my beloved dead sister in the seat beside me. She rides with me often, but today I am literal. Her wonderful kids, who are more like my siblings because my sister was 16 years older than me, have allowed me a share of her earthly remains. I got a cup and a quarter of Ann in a beautiful sparkling urn. It was selected by my sweet niece Pam after five years of angst. Ann is buckled in tightly in the seatbelt beside me with an ice chest of Dr Peppers in the floorboard and a half bag of Cheetos in the seat.

How many movie plots begin or end like this? Funny, sad or poignant. I’ve always said that truth is better than most fiction.

In the weeks, even days, before her death, she was as full of life as she had always been. She was always a vital person — energetic, forceful. She had an opinion on everything; all you had to do was ask her. I hear her throaty cigarette voice beside me as we drive first to Oak Bluff Cemetery where our parents are buried just down the sidewalk from Tex Ritter and then down the long, swampy road from Port Neches to home. The Nome-Neches highway is nothing now but a one-lane buffer between the cars and the bayous. Swamp gas and fireflies make my imagination fly into the supernatural past.

Ann was very much a woman of her times. Keeping up with what was new; always improving her mind; reading something on the Best Seller list.

In the 1950s she was a bobbysoxer with rolled up jeans and tennis shoes.

In the 60s and 70s, she was a bit of a hippie chick, certainly a barefoot peacenik — something she still loved today. Peace. Not war.

In the 80s and 90s she was a single mother and working woman — changing her life completely. Standing up for what she believed in — and what she believed in was Ann. That she was a person who could and should make it on her own.

In the last decade, she entered the computer age — wholeheartedly embracing email and the internet and, of course, cable. If she were still around today, she would be a blogger.

I am reminded of how much I learned about life during my vigil before her death. When she first had her lung cancer surgery, we set up baby monitors in her room and mine. She’d call for me at night and I’d crawl into bed with her. She would want me to tell her long elaborate stories to help her get back to sleep. We would laugh and giggle like girls again. Then, she’d fall asleep and I’d go back down the hall where I’d wait for the next call. I never slept. Even if the worry subsided, the smoke from her three-pack-a-day habit never did.

Within a year she had a stroke from which she would never recover and never speak again.  I again sat vigil with her for the three weeks that it took for her body to die. As I watched her body fade, I kept reminding myself of her eternal energy. She was a beautiful woman who loved being a beautiful woman. She would love this very feminine urn with its cut glass cross and mirror shard genie bottom. She would love the ride beside me for another adventure and another long talk.


Written by commuterchroniclesdbh

April 17, 2012 at 9:30 pm

7 Responses

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  1. I wish I’d had the chance to get to know Ann. She sounds like a lovely woman and a great big sister.


    April 18, 2012 at 12:50 am

    • She would have loved you, Janet. She loved strong, smart and beautiful women, like you. Ann grew up running the roads with your father-in-law, my brother. They are Big Sister/Big Brother legends in my mind; now romanticized because I lost them both too soon.


      April 19, 2012 at 1:44 pm

  2. Excellent, Denise! Loved it!

    Victoria Allen

    April 19, 2012 at 12:38 am

  3. I love you and the picture you paint.

    Jan Collins

    April 19, 2012 at 1:17 am

  4. Really touching blog post, Denise.


    April 19, 2012 at 3:36 am

    • Thanks for saying, Ladies. I debated posting or even writing about this because of the element some folks may consider disrespectful. Of course, if Ann was anything, she was also disrespectful. At least I refrained from posting the photo of the urn sitting in the seat beside me. It’s a beauty and couldn’t be more appropriate.


      April 19, 2012 at 1:41 pm

  5. Having three sisters that are just as wonderful and imperfect and perfect all at the same time, I can only partially relate because I have not lost any of them yet…but I am glad I can relate even to an extent. Thank you for sharing your story. God bless you.

    Christina R. Brown

    April 19, 2012 at 8:09 pm

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