Sisters: Rainy Day Friends


Death was part of life on the farm, when I was a little girl.  Cats died from milk fever, dogs got hit by cars, the cows and pigs we knew by name got sent to the butcher’s and returned as beef and pork for dinner.  People only died when they got really old, like Dziadzia, he was my great-grandfather, or like that truck driver Mom and Dad knew who had a heart attack when he was 43.   People always lived a long time.  Except for Bobbie-Jo.

My sister Deanna’s good friend, Cleta, had a big sister, Bobbie-Jo. Cleta and Bobbie-Jo rode my bus to school.  Bobbie-Jo wore big skirts with three can-cans underneath, so she barely fit through the aisle of the bus. She swished past me, heading for the back of the bus where the slick teenagers sat, but not in the very back seat, where the hoods were.  I could smell just a whisper of lily-of-the-valley after Bobbie-Jo squeezed by; I tried to hold that smell in the back of my nose and not let go, she smelled so good.  I probably smelled like straw, from doing morning chores.

Bobbie-Jo’s hair was dark brown, even darker than Bonita’s, and pulled back in a tight, high ponytail that she brushed into a loose ringlet.  When she walked, the tip of that curl brushed against the back of her neck.   Bobbie-Jo was always laughing and smiling, that nice kind of smile that meant ‘I really like my life’ or maybe her ponytail just tickled her neck all the time.  Sometimes I just wanted to tug on her skirt and say, “Hey Bobbie-Jo, you can sit by me.”  Of course I  never did, ’cause my friend Betty got on the school bus first and always sat right down next to me, and besides, Bobbie-Jo was a teenager, she only liked other teenagers.  And Cleta.  Of course she liked Cleta.  Mom said you have to be good to your sister, you will never find a better friend, ’cause your sister’s gonna know you from the time you’re born:  forever.  A sister will always be there for you.

Bobbie-Jo learned to drive and got a part-time job after school over in the City.  Sometimes, she had to drive home kinda late at night, especially on the weekend.  One night when it was raining really hard, a man drove right into her lane and hit her straight, head-on.  Bobbie-Jo never knew what hit her.  She died right then and there.

Cleta’s phone was on the same party-line as my phone.  If you had a party-line and if you heard a voice on the line, you had to hang up really fast.  Listening-in was super rude and an invasion of privacy.  Besides that, Mom got hopping mad if she caught anyone listening-in.  Deanna could lift that phone up and cover the receiver; she listened-in without anyone knowing.  I tried sometimes, ’cause it was kind of interesting to hear boring stuff going on at somebody else’s house, but usually whoever was talking, mostly Lois, my friend Betty’s teenager sister, would say “Get off the phone!” in an angry voice.  I hated people getting angry at me, even when they didn’t know it was me.  Anyway, when Bobbie-Jo got in that car wreck, I stayed right away from that phone.  I only picked it up once, and I heard Cleta’s mom crying to the undertaker.  That was the worst kind of sadness I ever heard.

Teacher took the whole class to the funeral home to pay our respects to Cleta and her family; it was only three blocks away, so we all walked down there at Noon Hour.  I think the whole school went to the funeral home that day.  Lots of adults stood around saying how good Bobbie-Jo looked.  That body in there did not even look like Bobbie-Jo to me:  no smile, no can-cans fluffing her dress way out, and no ponytail at all, just a fancy curly hairstyle, kind of like her mom’s, that Bobbie-Jo never, ever wore in real life.

Now Cleta had no sister at all.  Who was going to be her friend for life? I was so lucky, I had five sisters.  Five friends for life.  Cleta only had Bobbie-Jo.

Rainy days like today are good days for thinking about sad memories.  Somehow we manage to keep going after deep losses; I guess it’s just what’s called human resiliency.  I hope people like Cleta find someone who can be as good a friend as a sister is.  I thank God everyday that I have five sisters far away, yet close in spirit.  Everybody needs friends like that.

(Just for the record, my brothers are pretty darn keen friends, too.)

4 thoughts on “Sisters: Rainy Day Friends

  1. 😦 Bobbie-Jo…I felt..I am still feeling a really sad feeling -the feeling you must have had as a kid and for Cleta. 😦 reading this though you have written down simple straight facts…it is touching.

    As for sisters: I somehow do not count them as my rainy day friends but well, they are always there. It is only; that me being the eldest, I refrain sharing my deepest sorrows with them. I tell them most of my experiences, events or confusions but it becomes sharing when things or that phase gets over. I count on my mum and mostly my friends when I need someone during the bad or low times but lately, I suffered all alone. 🙂 (My past 2 years) Bits by bits..here and there…every one was there to listen but there was none to care!

    • How many sisters do you have, Nikki? I am the second eldest, but we’re all so close together, in age and in spirit, that it is comfortable to share. Of course Mom is a good friend, too. It is good to see you back commenting; I missed you. I am also happy to hear Adelaide is treating you well.

  2. We are 3 sisters in all and have a young brother as well. The sister next to me is blessed with the newborn you know about and the youngest is living her life to the fullest at home now, taking a break from studies and work. I somehow have missed getting us all connected in mind and spirit and live our individual lives…we differ in attitudes but we still have a bonding; we are family and much connected in heart and emotions in a manner I can not describe. It’s just there. 🙂

  3. Pingback: Loss « Once A Little Girl

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