WELCOME TO GUEST WRITER BOBBIE BARBER of KANSAS Among her many accomplishments, Bobbie’s tenacity and sense of adventure led her on an extensive genealogy quest to Ireland and Great Britain, exploring the roots of our Founding Fathers. A small- town girl with a lifelong passion for learning, Bobbie continues to pursue her love of reading and dedication to research.
Today, I can’t help but REMINISCE—to indulge in recalling pleasant events of the past. As I do, each memory seems to build upon another, bringing a sweet blend of tears and laughter.
It’s hard to believe my sister Sherry has been gone for one full year. I still miss her constantly and wish we could spend just one more day together. I continue to have moments when I can’t remember the details about something that happened back in the day or can’t recall exactly where we were when something hilarious happened. It’s at those moments that I start to pick up the phone to call Sherry and realize all too quickly I can’t call her.
One of the toughest parts of being the last surviving sibling is that not one person in the whole world shares those childhood memories with me. There is not another person in the world that will break into song and dance in the middle of a store with me because something reminded us of a favorite tune. There is not another person in the world that remembers sledding off the rooftop of our house after the blizzard of 1958. There is no one left who remembers Sherry and me pulling her dog, Boots, out of the outhouse hole (yuck!!) after that same blizzard.
I lean back and close my eyes. I recall little five-year-old Sherry gathering her horse-riding gear—a blanket for the saddle, a jump rope for the reins, and boots on her feet. Her horse is the rail around the front porch of our childhood home in Healy, Kansas. She gallops on her steed while issuing orders to Boots to “get that cow back with the herd.”
Next I see the two of us devising mischief as we eye the old silo in the field behind our house on the edge of town. There is a lot of neat old stuff in that silo. To be fair, it’s my idea. Sherry wants no part of it. Could it be that she relents because I call her a coward?
We climb up the metal ladder on the outside of the silo, pull the lid off a hole in the roof, and very carefully climb down the wooden strips nailed to the inside wall. I hear myself telling Sherry to quit being such a big scaredy-cat baby and keep climbing. The first thing I see is a rusted metal pantry that is missing one leg, which has been replaced with a tree stump for support.
Beside the pantry a ratty old tablecloth covers a slab of wood that tops a large tree stump. The chair at the table lists severely to the right, so we don’t dare sit on it. On the table, we spy a long knife with an ivory looking handle, an empty gun holster, and a tin cup and plate. The armless sofa on the opposite side of the room obviously served as a bed, but we don’t spend much time investigating it.
I move one corner of the blanket and a whole slew of bugs come scurrying out—sending me scurrying in the other direction. Now it’s Sherry’s turn to call me a scaredy-cat! Three raccoon skins hang above the bed. Our childlike imaginations run wild as we envision famous frontiersman Daniel Boone to have lived here at one point!
The metal pantry spells the end of our exploration. Behind the first door are multiple Mason jars that contain grossly moldy stuff and kitchen tools that are obviously homemade. I’m pretty impressed that somebody could have made their own spatulas and spoons. Sherry, on the other hand, is not impressed. She gets braver and opens the second door on her own. EEK! We let out shrill screams as three mice jump out of the pantry. The brave explorers can’t get out of here fast enough. The only sound now is our pounding footsteps as we scurry up the wall and down the ladder outside.
When our parents find out, they are not nearly as impressed with our little stunt as we are, and Sherry takes the blame because she doesn’t want me to get into trouble.
My next memory takes Sherry and me on a walk downtown—all of about four blocks—to get a pop at Dad’s pool hall, where spinning on the stools is always a bigger draw for us than the ice-cold bottles of Coke in our hands.
Sherry is more interested in examining every rock, insect, and weed along the way than she is in reaching our destination. Being the bossy older sister, I start running. Sherry picks up one of the rocks and with perfect aim nails me in the back of my head.
I bleed badly, and Sherry starts crying—she knows she’s in for trouble BIG time. But I tell Dad a little whopper. “I fell down on the rocks,” I say. Yes, that was the theme of our childhood friendship—sisters stand up for each other NO MATTER WHAT!
Next I’m laughing hysterically. We’re in our teens. Dad is one of the instructors at a square dance camp, and we’re going along. On the last night of the camp they hold a talent show that the Anderson girls (my older sister Myrna, my younger sister Sherry, and me) enter. Dad has encouraged us to perform a pretty song he has chosen that has lots of great harmony. He is all set to be a very proud father.
What do we do instead? Well, American singer and musician Tiny Tim is all the rage, and we decide to perform a rendition of his currently popular “Tip Toe Through the Tulips”!
I can still see the look of indignation on Dad’s face as his daughters went STOMPING through the tulips. He cheered up a bit when we took first place, but every time I think of that night I laugh to the point of tears. My sisters and I had a wonderful relationship, and I am richly blessed. The treasured memories we made together are priceless.
So, a note to my sons and grandchildren: try to be tolerant when I reminisce. Laugh in all the right places. Cry when it’s appropriate. When my heart tugs me backward to a cherished story of my parents and sisters, go with me. Sometimes I have the need to indulge in sharing pleasant events from the past. Don’t worry. I promise not to live in the past, but I do need to reminisce now and then.