Tuesday, August 13, 2013

My Sister Tish

Some called her Trish, my Aunt Sue called her "an original", my brother called her Grace, mom called her Tishy, dad called her Tish.  Many have given her other nicknames over the years but when I called her I would just say "Hello my sister".  She was my only sister.  Older by 3 years, I know she loved me even though a little sister can be a real pain.

I can remember being in my crib as a small child and Tish and her friend Cindy frightened me in the dark with flashlights under their faces.  Of course she had the best teacher in town.  Our brother Barry was a classic scare master.  We always knew he was standing at the bottom of the staircase hidden and he still managed to scare us which thrilled him to no end!

Tish was the North White Viking mascot in high school.  It required her to be in front of hundreds of people and her purpose was to get everyone fired up.  She was a perfect Viking.  She made her own sword and shield in shop class.  I think she was the first girl to be in shop class. Also in high school, one day she got on the intercom system and gave her opinion of the school's male atheletes.  She called them "Jocks."  That term wasn't intended to be complimentary and it caused quite a stir.  Tish was always stirring things up.  

She once told Uncle Jack that she almost becamse Prom Queen.  The only reason she wasn't was because she was never nominated.  A phrase she used often was "Not a problem" even though you knew quite well that it was a problem.  She would call and ask for advice on something and sure enough she never followed any of it.  She marched to the beat of her own drum.  She was a free spirit.  She was someone who loved to color her hair: frosted, red or violet.

Tish had a flair for the dramatic.  Her arms would sweep the air when she talked.  And when she sang she held nothing back.  She would swing and move and clap and dance.  You could always tell that she loved life when she was singing.

Tish also wore her personality well.  When she was little she would wear her PJs under her church clothes.  Once she went downtown to the King the Clotheir store in Monon and purchased a pair of boy's boots.  Mom made her take them back.  Later in honor of Tish I bought a pair of boy's boots at K-Mart and wore them everyday.  She had patience for sewing and made many dresses.  The clothing combinations she would throw together was something I idolized.

She was also accident prone.  One of many was when we went on vacation in 1972. She twisted her ankle while wearing those "damn clogs" and we had to take her to the hospital in Munich.  After that we all got sick of smelling the dressing the hospital put on her ankle.  It stunk!  But while we moved from place to place on the train she taught us the words to the song "One Tin Solder" from the movie "Billy Jack" and we sang it for days.  

One year she entered the state speech contest and read a poem she found in a book on one of Grandma Hughes' bookshelves.  At that contest she read "Rex the Piddling Pup."  When I looked it up on the internet recently I could see why Tish was drawn to it.  It was in a book titled "Bawdy Ballads and Lusty Lyrics:  A Curious Collection of Somewhat Salty Classics Seldom Sung in Sunday Schools."  No, Tish didn't go for the dry or uneventful she was an actress at heart.

My sister loved mom and dad.  Her face would light up when they walked in her hospital room.  She loved her husband Scotty; her boys, Charlie and Andy; her step-children, Korina, Donnie, Andrea and Sheila; and her grandchildren, Little Charlie, Karen Lee and Chloe.  She also loved her friends, Cindy, Paula, Jill, Suzy, Mary, Lori, Linda and Starla.  She collected friends and friendships everywhere she went like a shore collects sand.

Tish cared for the underdog.  She took care of stray cats.  She loved to plant flowers.  She hated to clean house (I almost broke her vacume cleaner once and was scolded - I don't know why because she never used it.)  And she regularly paid the price for following her heart rather than following the rules.

For quite some time now, when I see sunflowers I always think of Tish.  They were prominently displayed on her kitchen walls.  Also in that kitchen was her radio which was always turned on to the oldies.  Because she introduced me to the song Moondance by Van Morrison, at her apartment in Bloomington, that song frequently plays in my mind.  

Tish sang in high school, in church, in musicals, in Trinity with her girlfriends Jill and Susie, and she sang in the hospital.  The first week she was singing "Little Boxes" by Malvena Reynolds, (which was later a Pete Seeger hit.)  My husband thought that was a great way to marginalize the effect cancer had on her body.  At the nursing home she was singing at 2:30 a.m. before she passed away around 5:30 a.m. on Monday, July 29th.  I asked for the song she was singing.

You know with Tish it could have been anything.  It could have been something scary like "Frankenstein" by Edgar Winter.  Or it could have been something more descriptive of Tish like "Walk on the Wild Side" by Lou Reed.  Or something sad like "It's Too Late" by Carole King.  No it wasn't any of those.

It was a happy song.  A song from the musical Annie with words "tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you tomorrow, you're only a day away."  Isn't that something?  Her middle name is Anne and she loved red hair!

My sister, faith in God tells me I will see you on some future tomorrow.  It gives me peace to know that your last song was a happy one.  You will always be with me through sunflowers, moon dances and your many loved ones.  And it has been an honor to be your sister!