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Remembering Sisa

with 6 comments

Today is the 35th anniversary of my sister’s death. Hard to believe it’s been that long.

I still call her “Sisa” because that’s who she is to me. Her real name was Cynthia, but apparently, as a young child (five-and-a-half years younger than her), I was either trying to say “sister” or “Cynthia” and it came out “Sisa.” And it stuck.

Anyway, I really don’t have a lot of clear memories about her, just snippets of moments. I was nine, and she was 15 when she died. And for about a year before she died, she was away from me, in hospitals.

I do remember the day the whole odyssey started. We’d been at my grandmother’s on a hot Sunday afternoon. We got in the car to go home, and then stopped at a country store for Mama to run in and get milk (I think). While we were waiting for Mama to come back, Sisa and I were sitting in the back seat, trying to hit Daddy’s hand before he could jerk it away. When it was Sisa’s turn to play, she just sat there, starting ahead, not responding. Apparently, she was having a seizure. Daddy told me to run in and get Mama. I did, and Daddy drove like a bat out of hell to the hospital.

The next thing I remember was standing in the hallway of the hospital and someone saying they thought she’d had a sun stroke. I don’t have a lot of my own memories about the next few days, but I do know that she was eventually found to have a brain tumor. And in the course of doing the blood work for preparing for brain surgery, they discovered that she also had Hodgkins lymphoma. In those days, (’70–’71), it was not well known, nor was it so easily sent into remission like it often is now.

Anyway, it was the Hodgkins that eventually killed her as it spread rapidly throughout her lymphatic system. She had been in the hospital at UAB for the last couple of weeks of her life, and I recall only seeing her once—my aunts having taken me up there during one of their visits. The rest of the time I stayed with the Ramsey family.

I won’t go into “my” stuff during that time, but today will write down a few of the things I remember about her.

Sisa loved animals. She was very smart. I don’t remember her as being particularly quiet, but in school, apparently she was, as she was voted “Quietest” in her class in 9th or 10th grade. She loved to play board games, especially Monopoly.

She was very prone to let her imagination get away with her, and at night, when the lights were turned off for bedtime, she’d start imagining monsters in the closets, under the beds, outside the windows, etc. Of course, me being much younger and getting scared if my big sister was scared, would fall prey to her paranoia! We’d end up taking turns looking under beds, in closets and out windows in a nightly ritual that went on as long as I can remember.

She enjoyed high school band. She played alto sax, and was apparently pretty good at it.

Other than that, I really only have slices of inconsequential memories. I have “memories” of things that I’ve heard over and over, and they feel somewhat like my own memories, but they’re not.

She would be 50 years old right now. I wonder what her life (and by consequence, mine) would have been like had she lived.

And although I don’t remember much about her, I still miss her. I miss having a sister. I hope she rests in peace.

Written by blogicalinks

January 14, 2007 at 1:08 pm

Posted in Sharing

6 Responses

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  1. Cheryl, what a wonderful tribute. Don’t you see? You carry much of your sister within you. I know of few people who love animals more than you. You are creative and imaginative (I remember many of the things you’ve written including those Christmas party songs). You are learning to play the guitar and as you said, your sister was good at what she played, I have little doubt you’ll conquer the guitar as well—much as you’ve conquered any other challenge in your life..

    Memories are the best part of what we keep in our hearts about those we love, both the living and those who have passed. As long as we keep those memories and share them with others, a part of that person lives on. You have made your sister more than a memory by sharing this testimony with others. I’ve often told my daughters that being sisters is more than just a term, it is something they will have the rest of their lives whether they are together or apart.


    January 15, 2007 at 2:23 pm

  2. “The rest of the time I stayed with the Ramsey family.”
    I can only imagine what you were going through during that time. I have some idea.

    For a weekend, only a weekend, I was shuffled off to the side, wondering if my brother was alive or dead after a bad car accident. I was 12 – and no one thought to clue me in on what was going on.

    I can only imagine what an extended time – living elsewhere – while your parents were focused on your sister might have felt like.

    I hope the Ramseys handed out lots of hugs. Somehow, I don’t think so – but I hope they did.

    Ru's Mom

    August 5, 2007 at 9:21 pm

  3. Thank God for “good folk” like the Ramseys.
    I’m glad you got good hugs from Miss Hazel. I’m glad she knew when you needed hugs and when you just needed to be held.
    I’m sorry about Sisa.

    Ru's Mom

    August 5, 2007 at 10:09 pm

  4. That is so sweet. Are the Ramseys still around? I hope they somehow know what they meant to you.


    August 6, 2007 at 4:05 pm

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