Breakdown Lane Recovery Op…….

Did anyone notice my hiatus from writing has coincided with the Oprah show hiatus? What can I say? We needed the time off. Having my phone stolen, turning 60 festivities, viruses running rampant in my office all signaled yellow for caution. The red light flashed really strong when I wanted to write about my sister Deb.

Debra Jean was born on March 30, 1955. I was four years old. The memory of picking Mom and her up from the hospital is one of my strongest. Jim, Leslie and I were so excited; we were bouncing in the back seat. Today, we would probably not even have been hanging out in front of Stormont-Vail Hospital, Topeka, Kansas, anxiously waiting for the nurse to wheel our mother out holding her precious bundle. The car seats would have taken up all of the room!

Deb lived her life large. She could sing and played the violin in elementary school. One time she told the music teacher I would play the piano accompaniment for a violin trio. To say I was filled with dismay is an understatement. We brushed through well enough.

My second sister had a mercurial temperament. She experienced a fair amount of life’s peaks and valleys during her walk. Deb was Daddy’s little girl for six years until Sister Sally was born. Max and Rick were born in between and barely registered a blip on her radar. Sally and Penny were her very own baby dolls.

Deb was the first of us to complete her college degree. She started out in music and spent a semester in Vienna, Austria studying voice.  She came back and switched to nursing. While working as a ward clerk at St. Francis Hospital, Topeka, Kansas, she commuted to Kansas State University for classes. She also volunteered me to sing, with my guitar, for patients. She failed to tell me I was being recorded for the hospital TV channel. We brushed through well enough.

Deb graduated from Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas with a degree in Politcial Science. Her education was definitely eclectic! She was more politically conservative than Leslie and me and would occaasionally mention she was the one with the formal political education.

Deb married in 1985 and went off to Montana where her US Air Force Captain husband was stationed. She looked forward to lots of travel as a military officer’s wife. Their tour of Italy was bittersweet because of the stillborn birth of her first child. She came back to the United States the next year, terrified and pregnant with her second child. Her valiant effort to recover her resiliency was successfull. She and her husband had three boys in a row.

She embraced motherhood and being a wife with all of the energy she had shown as a child. She was plagued with health problems and had several surgeries to try to alleviate some of her genetic back issues.

On December 28, 2008, Deb died in her sleep. She was on medication for bronchitis and was not doing very well. It was Saturday night and not realizing pneumonia had crept into her lungs she went to bed thinking she would go to the doctor the next day.

On Christmas Day 2008, I received a phone call from her. We had a really good chat. I found out later she had talked to all of her siblings at one time or other over that Christmas holiday. She would have appreciated the irony.

Thanks for the memories little sister. Love you, miss you………..

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved

About Lily

Born in Topeka, Kansas in the middle of the 20th Century, daughter, granddaughter, niece, sister, cousin, mother, aunt, grandmother, great-grandmother, friend, reader, spiritual, writer, cook, crafter, junker...... twice-married, former non-profit executive in retread mode... currently living a bucket list life in a remodeled schoolhouse.....
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