My sister, Diane, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly two days ago at the young age of 62. I’m in shock and still trying to process the news. She had health issues, but she was still working full-time.
One of the ways I handle grief is to keep busy. I’ve been looking through old photo albums searching for photos for Diane’s slide show to be shown at her wake.
Of course, as a writer, the other way I deal with grief is to write.
Diane was the second child and first daughter of my parents. She was also a Christmas present. Born six weeks early on December 24, 1956, she weighed 3 lbs, 15 oz. My brother Mike was only 11 months old when my sister was born. When the doctor delivered my sister, he said, “I can’t believe it! Two tax exemptions in one year!”
Like most sisters/siblings, we had our good times and bad times. We fought and made up too many times to count, but in these last ten years, we’ve had a closer relationship than ever, talking on the phone for an hour at a time every few weeks and emailing and texting frequently.
Here are some of my favorite memories and little-known facts about my sister:
When we were small children and Mom put us to bed, we would stay awake and play games like “You Don’t Say” and other guessing games. Often Mom would have to tell us to “Be quiet and go to sleep.”
One time when we were about ten and twelve, Di and I sneaked down to the Christmas tree in the living room before everyone else was awake to see what “Santa” had left.
Diane would give me hints about what she bought me for Christmas. And every year, I’d be surprised because the hints she gave me were only to distract me from guessing what the real gift was. You’d think after several years I would have caught on, but I never did and I was always surprised.
1971: Diane and my brother Frank found and broke into my diary. They proceeded to mark each entry. If their name was in the entry, they gave it a good mark. Otherwise, there were a lot of F’s. If I had to be honest, the entries were quite boring, talking about what grades I got in this or that subject. We laughed about it for years. And… I still have the diary with all the notations.
1975: We had a bad argument when we were teenagers. I don’t even remember what it was about. She was so angry that she proceeded to dump a glass of vegetable juice over my head. I was shocked that she had done it, but then we both started laughing. I asked her, “Do you feel better now?” She responded, “Yeah, as a matter of fact, I do.” That was another memory we laughed about for years.
1976: Di asked me to buy her some perfume when I went to France on a school trip. I bought L’Interdit and she liked it so much, she continued using it for many years until it was discontinued. She gave me a old container of it years ago and whenever I smell that scent, I think of her.
An entry from my diary in 1977: “Shopping with Diane is like putting yourself in front of a firing squad. She must’ve tried on 30 different pieces of clothing in ten different stores and didn’t end up buying anything!” (I’m not a patient shopper!)
1978: I was babysitting my cousin Eleanor’s daughter and my sister kept calling, but was quiet except for breathing. I suspected it was her, but she never answered. I was trembling with fear and about to call the police. Finally, she called and laughed. I was so glad it was her (and not a psychotic stalker) that I also laughed about it.
In recent years, she had developed emphysema so she depended on kind people to help her. She kept a stash of small angel pins to give to those who helped her. She would tell them, “You’re my angel.”
Two years ago, she recommended the TV show Blue Bloods and happened to own the first two seasons and asked if I wanted to borrow them. I did, and I was hooked. I wound up purchasing the next few seasons and now watch that program regularly.
She also recommended a movie called “Lars and the Real Girl.” When she told me the premise (a delusional young man strikes up an unconventional relationship with a doll he finds on the Internet), I told her I didn’t think I’d like it. She said, “Trust me. You’ll like it.” And, well, I did. I would even say it’s up there among my top 100 movies. Excellent script, story and acting. I’ll miss her future recommendations.
We both loved the rice pudding from The Meadows Diner in Blackwood, New Jersey. Every time I visited, I would bring her some (and enjoy some for myself!)
During our last conversation a few weeks ago, she shared with me that she hoped to come up to Canada for our first grandchild’s christening in the summer. She told me that I would love being a grandmother because she loved being a Mom Mom to Lanna. We talked about grandmother names that I might want to use. The last words we said to each other were, “I love you.”
I already miss her. And I wish I could’ve said goodbye to her. I know I’ll see her again someday and the reunion will be a joyous one.
Requiescat in pace, Diane.
May the choirs of angels come to greet you.
May they speed you to paradise.
May the Lord enfold you in His mercy.
May you find eternal life. Amen.
December 24, 1956 – March 7, 2019
A memorial fund has been created in Diane’s name/memory to provide for her granddaughter, Lanna’s, education. If you would like to contribute, here is the link.
Her obituary is here: