My sister Wendy died in February. You won't find her in Hollywood or political pages. She didn't write a book, but a cookbook of her recipes (if she'd used them) would've made her the Julia Child of the plain, good, comforting Southern food Genre. Wendy's fried catfish seldom made it to the table. We'd all be standing around her as she breaded, fried & set the crispy golden nuggets on a clean, folded dish cloth. By the time she carefully placed more pieces of sweet white fish, encased in flour, corn meal & spices into bubbling oil, the cooked ones were gone-and we were standing there again, mouths watering.
She was much more patient & easy going than I, & a girly girl when we were young, unlike me. I liked books & pets, & lacked social skills; unlike most in my Eastern Iron Range town I knew who Martin Luther King was & had read of the poor little girls bombed & killed Down South. I knew how to spell "beetle", & watched President Kennedy's speeches. I would turn 12 November 4th & was in Mr. Pinckney's 7th grade class on November 22 when the announcement came over the loudspeaker of the President's assassination. Everyone broke into tears, & I turned to stone. Mr. Pinckney looked at me, understood, & let me go home. My sisters & brothers got out of school & ran off to play until dinner, & I started on a poem for my President. Wendy came inside, stopped, & said "A poem? Let me know when it's done. I want to learn it". And off she ran. When it was finished I showed her it, & we memorized it together, not knowing a copy had made its way to Mr. Pinckney & the PTA. I was painfully self-conscious, & initially refused when asked to recite it at a large gathering of educators. Wendy stepped up, saying, " I know the poem. We'll say it together". And we did just that, giggling in spots from nervousness. But we did it, my sister & me.
That's the person Wendy was, always a nurturer, a supporter, a friend to anyone lost, afraid or hurting; her death crushed family (blood or not), friends across the nation, of all colors, religions, ethnicities, "legal" or not; she worked, hard, at back breaking, thankless jobs without complaint & loved her husband & children with all the intensity of her beloved Dallas Cowboys for their game. She had a snickery, snarky sense of humor, & we'd laugh wickedly at her wry observations. When Wendy sent a card, her brilliant, beautiful cursive was always a joy to see. She had Dad's gift of an elegant hand.
Her gracefulness aside from that was gradually diminished by work at the chicken plant, but she loved that job for its steadiness &, however poor, health insurance. She made many friends there, including her best, dearest friend Vickie. They were inseparable, & I'm so glad she had a happy, fulfilling life. One day I'll tell you about our Caribbean cruise, an adventure we'd never hoped to share. She was a hoot! I won't discuss her illness & death. Today, I'm sharing my joy in the privilege of having known this remarkable woman, all my life long. Happy 2018. Don't forget to vote in November!