I am on the last day of my trip home, taking our time to stop frequently and rest. The trip to Georgia was fraught with calamity and I am sure that one day I will be able to laugh about it. Maybe. I am still raw right now. While HeWho drives, Siri must navigate, I am just not up to it.
I have tried to sleep, read, play games on my phone, but find myself unable to concentrate. Left on my own with only four legged friends to talk to, I find myself crying on and off. My eyes feel like a butt with diaper rash. I see her as I last saw her when I close my eyes. She looked not at all like herself, making it even harder to believe she is gone. Her face looked bruised. I have no other words to describe it. It makes my heart hurt.
My Daddy looked peaceful. He was peaceful, by all accounts. since I didn't make it in time to him either. I can't blame that on HeWho was driving this time, I was at the wheel when I was racing to Georgia last time.
I did something I never want to do again. I delivered a tribute at the service. I will write them all day long, but, this was hard to do. I kept thinking that I could hold myself together, if I could just stay mad at her for not getting vaccinated. All I had to do was read what I wrote. I told HeWho was sitting right there in the front row to do something stupid if I started to lose my composure and make me mad. Words seem to fly off my tongue when I am all riled up. He sat there, just watching me. That alone should have done the trick, but it didn't.
I managed to ad lib my way through it, as I did not wear my glasses. I was afraid they would fog up and make me look like Mr. Magoo. But, at least I didn't do the ugly cry where snot wants to run freely and you have sniff it up and in doing so, get the hiccups. I heard her voice in my ear all that morning, telling me how to put my makeup on and saying I could do this, it was just the words I had written, no biggie. She knew me better than anyone else. She knew me longer than anyone else, just like I knew her. All of her weaknesses and all of her strengths.
This is what I wrote:
Born August 15, 1951, Eva Paulette Schultze Courson. My sister, older by not quite two years. You all knew her as Paulette, to me she was Sisty. To my children, she was Aunt Sisty.
She will be mad that I am revealing her age. I can hear her saying, "You never ask a lady her age!" She did love being the very center of attention. Legend has it that she shoved my new born self into a trash bag, then instructed Daddy to take me out to the trashcan. Don't worry about me, I survived.
Some of my earliest memories revolve around strangers telling Mother how angelic and beautiful her little girl was. They were not referring to me. I cared not at all. I was content to be the background to her star. Not two peas in a pod, we neither looked nor thought alike. She cared very much about her image and how others viewed her. I never have.
Still sisters, though. She was allowed to tease and bully me, but you better watch out if you tried it! I was HER little sister and beware of my big sister if you messed with me.
We grew up and went our separate ways. I was always the homebody, while she loved to go ... anywhere. Ironic that I became the traveler while she stayed anchored here. I could always count on her to keep me sane, just a phone call away. I wanted to call her this morning to ask her what I should wear.
After Mother died and Daddy went to live in the veterans home in Mississippi, we would often coordinate our visits to him to see one another. Daddy's remarriage after five years of living lonely drove a wedge between us. I was forced to choose and I chose Daddy. I never wanted to choose, I wanted them both in my life.
We couldn't seem to bridge that gap even after Daddy was gone. We tried, but it was never the same. She was too hurt by my disloyalty to her, I now wish I had pushed harder, yelled louder and bullied my way back to her. You always think you have more time.
I almost chose not to wear makeup today. My sister would have been appalled if I did not have my best face on! She loved a big to-do with all the frills and dress up.
I told Joey to tell her that I loved her and that I was on my way. I like to think she did plan to wait for me. But, when she heard Prince Philip had died she just couldn't pass up the opportunity to hitch a ride with him to glory. I am okay with that. I am quite sure she is enjoying all the pomp and circumstance surrounding his passing and has decided it is for her, as well. She probably has convinced him that she needs a crown to wear!
I never told her this story and I wish now that I had. She visited the church we attended in Albany and I was directing my children's choir in a Christmas production. She was dressed to the nines, hat and all. She loved hats. She came backstage afterwards and one of the children asked me if she was a princess. I said the first thing that popped into my head. "No, honey, she is the Duchess of Pearson." At the time I thought I sounded mean, but she really was the Duchess of Pearson, wasn't she? I think she would have loved and taken on the new title! I am sure she would have started wearing a tiara!
Joey and Walter will never really know just how fiercely she loved them. Only another mother would truly understand. But the greatest joy in her life was Karagahn. Forget how upset she was at the prospect of becoming a grandmother. Saying she was far too young to bear that title. Already having the title of Gramma Kathy, I laughed at her. As enchanted as she was with my grandchildren, I knew better. She announced that she would not accept such names as Granny, Grand-maw, Mee-maw or even Grandmother. No, she decided that she was to be called GrandMa'ma. I laughed some more and told her she would be called whatever the child named her and that she would love it. She became GiGi, despite all efforts made to teach Karagahn her preferred name.
I was right, of course, but I am always right, just ask my grandchildren.
I wonder what she would have edited out besides her date of birth. I want to call her and ask her if this was okay, but I can't. Besides loving my nephews and her granddaughter, there is nothing I can ever do for her again and I am just so sad.