There were four children in our family and one of my siblings was 10 years older than me.  Needless to say, being the eldest brought with it much responsibility as far as the younger children were concerned, especially the one that became her shadow.  Even when I was a baby, it has been said (many times) that my mother was forever telling my sister to “take the baby” if she was going anywhere.  It has become a family joke – “take the baby.”

And, I, of course, idolized her and followed her around even when she didn’t have to “take the baby.”

Who would have thought that these years would be setting the stage for the tough road ahead for me and my beloved older sister?

In December of 1947 our mother suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and died almost instantly at the very young age of 41.  This was an almost unbearable and traumatic tragedy for me. I was 12 and felt an overwhelming sense of loss and abandonment. There were three of us at home, and although my father tried to hold it all together, it was something he just couldn’t handle.

It wasn’t long before my sister was once again being asked to “take the baby.”  Being with her was my only salvation because, even before my mother had passed, I was bonded to my sister; probably in light of the fact that she had nurtured me in those early years.

It needs to be pointed out that when all this occurred, my sister was 22 years young, with a year-old child and a husband, just starting out in their own lives.  And here they are, saddled with a 12-year-old sad, grieving pre-teen. Now, we all know how difficult teenagers can be, but in this situation, it must have been very difficult for this young couple to cope. And, cope they did.  There were rough times, but we made it.  As a matter of fact, things were so good, that I really didn’t want to leave home and didn’t until I married at age 24.

Through all of this my sister has been my shining light, my mentor.  I have always looked up to her and loved her with all my heart.  Today, we are still close and love and respect one another.  It was she who got me through the tough times and gave me the chance to have a good and productive life.  I have a great son and three wonderful grandchildren and I owe it all to her.

On this and every Mother’s Day, I sit back and remember my mother with deep love and will forever miss her. And I always think of my sister/mom with much gratitude, respect and an abiding love that will last forever.  God was good when he sent you to look after me, and, Ruth, the “baby” wants to take this opportunity to publicly “thank you.”