Someone once asked me what is my favorite childhood memory. I couldn’t answer because I have so many good memories it would be difficult to choose just one.
I’ve noticed that a lot of my favorite bloggers have written that they will be going home for the holidays. Like the song says, there really is no place like home for the holidays. I still feel a tiny twinge of excitement whenever I hear that phrase.
I loved Christmas when I was a kid, mostly because it meant that my oldest sister, Betty Jo, would be coming home from New York for a visit. I remember the anticipation of her homecoming like it was yesterday. We would begin preparing for her arrival a week before she and her husband were due to come home. Then with nothing left to do we would sit and wait for the taxi to bring them from the bus station or the airport, depending on their mode of travel. Often they would arrive after midnight and Mama would allow my other sister, Angelia, and me to stay up and wait for them. Sometimes we fell asleep before they arrived, but they always awakened us to say hello and give us hugs.
Betty Jo was 18 years older than me and 13 years older than Angelia. After I was born, Mama was ill for several months and Betty Jo looked after me. However, when Mama was well enough to care for me, Betty Jo continued to treat me like her own. I started to call her “Mama” and when they tried to correct me and make me understand that she was my sister, I settled on calling her “Mama-Sister”. I can still remember when she got married and moved away to New York. I cried and cried for weeks and I thought my little heart was going to break. I was only three years old but I remember the feeling like it was yesterday.
She always came home for Christmas. Always. And Christmas in our house was like…the best thing ever. However, the year I was five, she came home with a baby girl. Deborah. Oh. My. Gosh. I hated that baby. Of course Mama and Angelia thought the baby was the most wonderful thing on planet earth. I just wanted Betty Jo to give it away to someone so I could sit on her lap, get all her hugs and attention, and be her baby. Everybody thought it was cute and funny that I was so resentful. I didn’t think it was funny at all. I wouldn’t look at the baby and I would stand beside Betty Jo’s chair until she fed it, all the time telling her to “hurry and put it down!”.
They moved back home to Tennessee a few years later. Of course as I grew older, Deb and I became as close as sisters. But it has always been a running joke in our family about how much I despised her at first and how jealous I was of her.
Betty Jo came to live with me after she became ill with cancer. She lived with Wayne and me for the last two years of her life. I remember her last Christmas. I prepared all her favorite foods for Christmas dinner and all the family came but she was too sick from the chemo to eat. I hid away in the bathroom and cried. It was so difficult to put on a brave face and we had all been doing that since the doctors had given his prognosis. They told us she had approximately six months left and I knew that it was our last Christmas together. She died on the second day of February, just 21 days before her 67th birthday.
This is Betty Jo a few years before she got cancer.
Two years later our precious little mama died. Now the holidays make me sad. I still put on a brave face for the rest of the family, but a big chunk of joy has disappeared from the holiday celebrations.
This is my sweet Mama. I think she was in her eighties in this picture. She died at the age of 94.
I’m sorry. I didn’t realize that I was going to go so dark and depressing with this post. Although I do believe that it’s kind of therapeutic to just open up and write what you feel sometimes. And after all the title of this blog is My Mind Wandered. I don’t always have control over where it wanders. Unfortunately, it decided to wander to a not-so-funny place today.