As usual when I deviate from the usual format for this blog, I’m making a disclaimer to my Dear Readers. This post is intended as my remembrance of my younger sister, Beth, who passed away unexpectedly last Thursday. I promise to resume my usual irreverent snark a little later. Thank you for bearing with me.
For two whole years I had it made. I was the greatest thing that had ever happened to my family. On my Dad’s side, I was the youngest (and possibly the best looking) of 32 grandchildren. On my Mom’s side of the family, I was the first grandchild. As a result of this, I was showered with love and adoration, as is only proper.
And then… Beth was born and all that changed immediately. Even though I was very young and even then it was obvious that I was going to struggle with picking up on social cues, it would have been hard to miss the fact that I had been firmly bumped down on the “special grandchild” scale. For the first several weeks of her life, Beth was literally carried around on a velvet pillow with golden tassels and had an entourage everywhere she went. Sure, I was told that it was because she was born with OI, but I think that the tassels gave the game away, don’t you?
Normally, this turn of events would have been enough to turn any young man bitter and angry and perhaps send him into a long-winded diatribe about tassels, but in this particular case that was impossible.
You see I think that while all souls shine with divinity, some are more clearly seen than others. Beth was one of those cases and this was fairly obvious almost right from the beginning. She was one of the most empathetic people in the world and had an almost miraculous ability to help people deal with their mess simply by being willing to actually hear what you were trying to say. I never met someone who didn’t love her and thought themselves better off for having known her. I have trouble connecting with people, so I found this to be amazing.
This is not to suggest in any way that she was a saint or anything. After all, she was my sister and some of my bad influence was bound to rub off on her. She was as much a fan of raunchy jokes and gossip as the next person, but you could always tell that she never really took it to heart, she just liked to have a good laugh.
Anyone who’s ever seen Beth laugh knows exactly what I’m talking about. When she would start up, her entirely body got into the act and would set her bouncing in her chair. Tears streaming down her face, gasping for breath, and just about ready to fall out of her wheelchair, we’d have no choice but to laugh with her, which of course got her going even more. Eventually we’d all calm down and ask her what was so funny and I’d guess about half the time she’d have forgotten… but she was sure it had been hysterical.
Beth was my hero. She was equal parts grace and determination and I wonder if we’ll ever see her like again. If you would remember her, then I have a few suggestions.
- Have a few too many choco-tinis and play the slot machines until the silliness becomes too much and you have to go lie down.
- The next time someone needs to talk about what’s going on with them, let them finish without interruption and simply refuse to talk about your own mess, even if it is way more tragic and you’re pretty sure you’d win.
- Take a minute to appreciate the amazing gift of today. That we are all here to enjoy it is nothing short of miraculous. No matter how sick or banged up she was, Beth was always able to appreciate something about the day.
You know, now that I think about, that’s a pretty good plan for most everything. That’s a hell of a legacy right there.
I know that no poor words of mine can even hope to come close to adequately expressing how we feel about Beth. Perhaps we should turn to the Bard himself.
… We defy augury. There is special providence in
the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, ’tis not to come; if it be not to
come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come—the
readiness is all. Since no man, of aught he leaves, knows what is’t
to leave betimes, let be.
Hamlet Act 5, scene 2, 217–224