Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Day My Sister Died

Thursday March 25 was moving day. It was already a chaotic week due to a last minute move when Dad announced we were moving. But it all came together thanks to mom’s organization and perseverance coupled with, just do it, because she had two days’ notice to pack up a house and three little girls.

Moving day
March 25, 1971
Getting ready to follow the moving truck to our new home, I was privileged to carry my 3-month-old baby sister Sandra Gay from the house to the car where I placed her in the plaid car-crib that took up half the back seat. Mom showed me to how to support her new neck in the crook of my arm. Once I managed the cement steps and walked towards the car in our driveway, I was relieved I didn’t drop her. After I carried her something shifted in me, a sense of responsibility, a sense of protection, a sense that at seven-years-old I was the oldest sister and the oldest of three siblings.
The moving truck unloaded boxes into our new home while I ran back and forth to the car to check on Sandy. Taking to my new role as the oldest I bugged Mom to let me hold her. She insisted I wait till the movers had her crib set up. I’d run and stand on tip toes as I peered through the back car door window and watched her sleep as her baby blanket moved with each breath.
Finally mom said, “You can go get your sister now.” Excited I ran, opened the car door, and reached in to lift her out of the crib. As I picked Sandy up with her baby blanket, she looked and felt funny. I didn’t need to support her neck like hours earlier. She wasn’t the same soft baby and she had turned funny colors.
I ran to get Mom who broke down and sobbed hysterically as she told me to get my other sister Cyndi Jo, who was six, then she drove us to the hospital. Dad met us there after someone found him over the CB radio in town. The candy striper who was assigned to watch me and Cyndi Jo walked us through the halls of Danbury hospital while staff comforted my parents grief.

The move put me and my sister in a new elementary school midyear. I hated my 2nd grade teacher because she was mean and whacked my knuckles with a ruler. I wasn’t sure how I landed in this place. I was in a fog, a different town and a new home.