I assume that since Rita and I were only 22 months apart was one of the reasons Mom treated us the same…like twins. From early age through elementary school, we were dressed alike. Mom made most of our dresses so it must have been easier to use one pattern and one size.
The different personalities that were blooming under those identical dresses were evident early on. Rita should have been the oldest and I the younger sister. She had an independent, let’s do this, I don’t care what others think attitude towards life. I, on the other hand, stood back, was hesitant and tried to please others.
When we became adults, nothing changed. She continued life on a path requiring strong will, independence, determination and stoicism. She faced tough situations with true grit. She rarely expressed her deep feelings and emotions in words or tears.
We cried together as children when baby birds fell from their nests and we tried caring for them in shoeboxes. They all died and we cried. We cried over our dogs and cats when they died.
After we were both married and had families was the first time Rita shared with me on the phone that she was going to find a quiet place alone and cry. The date was July 12, 1975. We had been informed that our Dad’s only sister had died at the age of 47. We were close to her.
It was then that I realized that this tough skinned sister of mine had a heart of compassion and deep feelings. She cried in private. She was devoted to her daughter, family, friends, God, church, underdogs, and education. She “showed” it by her actions. She was my “show up” sister.
In 1987, our 16 year old daughter, Sara, was in a serious four-wheeler accident. She was in ICU for 8 days, three of those days unconscious. Without notice, Rita “showed up” at our house after a seven hour drive. Charlie and I were at the hospital. Our 12 year old daughter was home. Abby guided Rita on the 30 minute drive to the hospital. I will never forget the look on Rita’s face when she saw Sara. It was deep compassion, but no tears. She then took Abby home, fed her macaroni and cheese and sent her to bed for rest. The next day she went home.
After Mom died, Dad needed care. We placed him in an assisted living facility for 2 years in Findlay, Ohio. Rita oversaw his care from Flint. When he needed constant skilled care, Charlie and I brought him to Indianapolis so I could see him in a facility here on a daily basis. I kept Rita updated as she did me when she was on duty. After 8 months, I found another place for Dad that was closer to me. I told Rita all about it and that I felt comfortable with the move.
Early one Sunday while I was at church meeting with ladies for prayer, I looked up and what to my wondering eyes should appear, but my “show up” sister looking at me through the door window. I asked her what she was doing and she told me she drove down the day before and spent the night in Dad’s room observing the care he was getting as well as spending time with him. With a quick hug she was off, driving back to the children in Flint.
The best “show up” Rita event ever was on Lin’s birthday one year ago this past April. Rita surprised Lin at her party. She took a wrong turn getting off the subway and trekked the streets of Manhattan until she found her daughter.
I would give anything to see that rickety, worn out van pull up to Sara’s or my house spewing children out before it came to a complete stop.
I would give anything to see one more Rita “show up” at our family reunion in Findlay this July. Rita loved this time with relatives they enjoyed her humor and delighted in the children.
I guess the next “show up” sister event will be me when God says it is time for me to enter His presence. I know Rita will be there waiting to greet me with her witty, dry welcome, “Well, what took you so long?” No more tears.