Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Time of Loss, A Time to Reflect

Xmas 1975 (l-r}: Cathy, Grandma Rose, Jon, Mother, Mike, Sally, Cordelia

Life changes on a dime, and it’s not easy when it happens. We just lost our sister, Sally Eileen Scott. She was seven years older than Cordelia and me. Our brother Michael, 13 months older than Sally, was a true big brother to us all, and remains so today, especially through our grief.

At a friend's Laguna Mountain cabin '82
It’s always a surprise the things that flash into our heads when family and friends pass away. With Sally, I remember when I was in junior high, and ruffled, polished-cotton blouses were the latest fad. Sally, who was in college and still living at home, worked a few evenings a week at a clothing shop in downtown La Mesa. One evening after work, she arrived home to surprise us with two blouses, one for Cordelia and one for me. Our mother sewed most of our clothes, and, by then, we had already started making our own too, so it was a true treat to have a stylish store-bought blouse.

Sally, a baby, with our Mother
As kids, our father packed all of us into the family four-door sedan and, each September, drove us to Julian to the mountains of San Diego County, to pick grapes in a vineyard, straight from the vine. It cost a dollar a lug--and they were big crates--if we picked them ourselves. We ate our way through the vineyard and would drive home, stuffed.

Every Christmas, it was Sally who tried to teach us not to literally throw the tinsel--and it was real tinsel--onto the Christmas tree as we decorated. She’d slow us down and show us how to gently drape the tinsel, piece by piece, over the needles and branches to give it a washed-in-silver look. Try as she might, it would still have a disheveled look about it.

While she was in college, I recall Sally and her girlfriends, Georgette and Ann, driving us to La Jolla Shores, and once to Windandsea, to swim in the ocean and sun bathe. Sally loved the beach.

When Michael was a lifeguard on the Mission Beach peninsula, every Tuesday night our Mother would take us there, to the bay side, to meet up with Mike at the end of his shift. She’d bring hot dogs, chips and drinks, and we’d have hot-dog roasts around the fire ring with Mike and his fellow lifeguards.

Not long after that, Sally married and moved to Pacific Beach. Our mom would take us there to visit her and our first niece. Cordelia and I fell in love with San Diego’s beaches and, eventually, we each moved to Pacific Beach, then to South Mission. Sally’s mother-in-law, May, lived on the bayside in South Mission and we regularly hung out there as teenagers. May was always good to us and had bikes ready for us to cruise the boardwalk.

Mike with Sally's oldest in our pool
Sally, Cordelia and I played in the annual O-T-L tournament on Fiesta Island, our first team sponsored by Tug’s Tavern, at that time a popular beach bar. Sally, Cordelia and I always hung out on the beach, and every summer holiday we had barbecues. Spending the day on the beach with my son, Raymond, Sally's kids, and friends was something we did every Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day holidays. The get-togethers became family traditions, and we looked forward to them each year. Mike and his family--his children Kevin and Heather and wife Sharon--who lived out of state, made it to one of those July 4th beach bashes.

I can’t count the number of long bike rides I took with Sally--up the coast to Cardiff-by-the-Sea, to Del Mar and back, and to the Old Point Loma Lighthouse in the Cabrillo National Monument. The longest ride was around 1990, when I won two trips for a Vermont inn-to-inn bike trek, and Sally went as my guest. Neither of us at that point had been back East. I treasure the memories I have bicycling beside her on beautiful winding, country roads, past plush farmlands. They were halcyon days.

One thing about Sally, everyone always said how pretty she was. She was a natural beauty and looked a lot like our Mother.

We were family. And quite a family it was with all of us--never a dull moment--chock full of memories we'll always have with us.

When Cordelia, at 10, had open-heart surgery, Sally stayed home with me at our house in La Mesa, while our parents waited at the hospital for the eight-hour surgery to be over. Our next-door neighbor, Mrs. Vetter, invited Sally and me to lunch at her house, to keep us occupied. I didn’t realize the seriousness of Cordelia’s surgery until Sally, so anxious about the risky operation, got sick to her stomach.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry for your loss. What a nice family history you have and so many good memories of having fun together. You are lucky to have had so many good times together.