She hated it when I called her my “baby sister.” She was the youngest of seven. I, the oldest. She was in second grade when I got married and went off to Africa. This picture of her was taken when we were living in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. My surviving sisters say that she was about 15-16 when this picture was taken in the kitchen of our family home on Ellsworth Street in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
I missed much of her childhood and all her adolescence. For 20 years we lived in North Carolina and Texas, seeing her only occasionally on Christmas visits. She got married, had kids. She and her family lived in Suffield, Connecticut near my mother. We’d see them on Christmas when we came up from the South. Then she and her family moved to West Chester, PA. We moved to San Antonio, TX. Our Christmas visits were less frequent and they were to Connecticut.
We reconnected with Mary T when we moved to Philadelphia and could drive over to West Chester. Still not frequent enough. I remember that she and I drove up to Suffield together when my mother’s second husband died. That was probably the longest time we spent together during our adult lives, until her troubled last two years when I was on the phone with her almost every night.
I’ve been thinking about Mary T all day today and then her daughter Becky posted this picture and a beautiful reflection on her mother. As I’ve posted before, crying comforts.
Here’s Becky’s remembrance of her mother and my “baby sister.” Her words resonate with compassion for the suffering of others.
It’s been 11 years since one of the most painful moments of my life, the discovery that my mom had lost her long, hard fought battle with mental illness. Last year on the 10th anniversary I wrote a letter to her, sharing all that I had learned through this loss. This year as I sit in remembrance of her today, I want to share this thought with all of you. For all of my family, friends, or friends of friends…I ask that whatever your story is, whatever your current struggle may be, or point you are on your life’s path…that these words can bring you a ray of light in an otherwise dark place…what I can share is in these last 11 years, there has been no one that has replaced my mom, there is no other person who has become Mary T the sister and aunt, and no other Nana for my kids…please remember there is no other you…you are important and you are beautiful, and your life matters. No matter what is going on today, it can and it will get better…today is only a page in your story it isn’t the whole book…so please don’t give up on you because there can never be another you!!!