Generally speaking, I go from the general to the particular in these rants, but this time, I would like to begin with the particular. I think that it will become the general though, because that’s the nature of human experience.
For a long time, and for reasons unknown to myself, I have had pity for Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg. Sure, she’s had a privileged life, and doesn’t seem to need pity, but for many years she has been the sole survivor of her nuclear family. It seems a lonely place. The cheese stands alone.
That last phrase comes from the children’s game, “The Farmer in the Dell.” Something that I remember playing in my childhood, where at the end, all rejoin the circle except the cheese which is left to stand alone in the circle’s center.
This all crawls out from my memory banks because on Epiphany of this year, my dear sister, Patricia Jean Saddler Hughes, who had known me for my entire life, passed from this earth. Our parents have long been deceased. There having been just the four of us, I’m now the cheese.
My sister, my big sister, wanting to be sure that things were done according to her wishes, i.e. correctly, wrote her own obituary. Things that she didn’t mention—at least not in that telling—but that I think should be noted:
- Pat was at the bowling alley with her high school team when our Daddy called to let her know that I had been born. There is no family lore on how this affected her game that day.
- Pat did once mention that she was relieved when I was born because at 41, Mother had been a bit more cranky than usual while pregnant.
- Pat was my Godmother. There is a charming photo of her in this role. She looks so pretty; me, not so much.
- Pat gave me what, to Mother’s view, was “cheap Japanese junk” as gifts when I was a child. These things delighted my heart.
- Pat helped me to move into my first apartment. She had a car; my regular rides still were from the Louisville Transit Company.
- Pat, when helping me to move, provided me with a set of dishes which came courtesy of her employer and subsequently were passed along to her daughter.
- Pat was the second in what thus far have been five generations of girls/women in our family involved in the Girl Scouts of the USA.
- Pat and I, on Christmas Eve, would go to her attic and wrap gifts. Great Christmas joy and laughter came from these episodes.
- Pat and I formed a habit of taking car trips to state parks around Kentucky in the week between Christmas and New Year. We saw a lot and laughed ourselves silly.
- Pat and I, on those same trips often had an apparel-sized gift box of cookies that had been gifted to me. We would sample them, and in the profligacy of well-fed Americans, if we found them wanting, amid much merriment, would toss them out of the car for “critters” alongside the road: our very own cookie-crumb trail.
- Pat’s sons declared at her demise that they had never heard her drop the “F-bomb.” Should have been in the car the year that we tried to go to Cumberland Gap thinking that it was a KY State Park. Turns out it’s a national park and that that was the year when Newt Gingerich shut down the government. The interior of the car was blue from the expletives of two city girls down in the mountains in the dark of night.
- Pat discovered on our trip to the Holy Land that she had no real fondness for falafel.
- Pat gave Father Stan $10 in quarters for Christmas one year. They lived in the same retirement community and this was from her Bingo winnings: frugal in the mode of our Depression-era parents.
- Pat came home from Ireland telling me that she had met a really smooth man. Turns out that it was Mr. Jameson. My big sister taught me to drink straight whiskey. Now THAT’s a big sister and a friend who was a blessing!
Music: "The Keys of David" by Calming Harp