“Sisters. Sisters. There were never such devoted sisters. . . “ ~ White Christmas
In her short time on earth, Debbie’s journey was like a rock thrown into a lake; sending ripples outward which were felt by everyone who knew her. If you knew Debbie, you could expect cards, notes, phone calls and texts. If you really knew Debbie, you knew her laugh. She loved to laugh and enjoyed a good joke and funny stories, both hearing and telling. If you knew Debbie extremely well, you may have seen her get so excited about something that her hands and feet would wave back and forth while she rocked as she laughed.
As her little sister, I knew Debbie EXTREMELY well and everyone knew I was Debbie’s little sister because “you look just like your sister.” As kids we got along for the most part, minus the time I bit her arm hard enough to leave a scar and the time she tried to nail me with a hairbrush. We could be found playing together, having bread-n-butter picnics, or trying to outread each other in the number of Bible chapters we could read in a week. Music was a big part of our lives as we both took piano lessons, and while we never sang in public together, we would sing at home while we did our chores. Let us not forget the Lawrence Welk show that mom would make us watch on Saturday evenings. Summer evenings would find us playing our version of tennis in the driveway with the old paddleball paddles — she was Billie Jean King, I was Chrissy Everett. When we went to our grandmother’s house in Iowa we looked forward to fishing, playing stickball with an old broomstick, camp meetings, and being old enough to walk to Wood’s Store downtown with it’s old wooden floors and wooden screen door that thwacked as it slammed shut.
As we got older and our lives grew apart, we remained close. She often would have my older girls spend the night and Ashley, Tori and Melody would have movie nights and snacks with Aunt Debbie with ‘pan-a-cakes’ the next morning. For Sam and Savannah, there was the sidewalk chalk that they could use on her patio, or going upstairs to the pool table and playing. There were always birthday cards, Christmas cards, Halloween cards, Easter cards, St. Patrick’s day cards, and no-good-reason-to-send-a-card cards. Visits always ended up in giggles and full-on belly laughs as we shared what was happening in our lives.
There were many life lessons I learned, either with Debbie or because of Debbie, seven of which I will share here:
1) If you’re going to get dressed in the dark, make sure your underwear is on straight. Having the leg of your panties around your waist leaves one with an uncomfortable binding sensation.
2) If you’re going to eat all the chocolate bars, don’t blame it on your little sister who has an allergy to chocolate and wouldn’t eat them in the first place.
3) Chocolate syrup and vanilla yogurt do not mix well and your mother WILL make you eat it so you don’t waste food.
4) When playing Monopoly late at night in the summer with the windows open, if someone comes on the porch and barks through the window screen in the dark, it is customary and acceptable to stand up, knocking your chair over and bark back.
5) You cannot fit four cousins on a porch swing for long before it will break loose of its hooks and crash to the porch floor.
6) If you cannot sit next to each other during serious occasions (like funerals) without snorting and laughing, make sure to sit up front so those behind you simply see your shoulders shaking and assume you are crying.
7) Don’t let your cat eat the tinsel off the Christmas tree. It will eventually come out SLOWLY and literally hang out for days in ever increasing increments until completely passed.
Even though her stubborn hard-headedness and independent pride ultimately led to her demise, I will cherish the times we had together and miss her dearly.