Sister of Mine

July 1, 2011

in Uncategorized

“Mom had a massive stroke,” my nephew, Tony, called to tell me in a breathless voice.  “She’s being moved to ICU.”

The words stabbed my heart.  My pulse began to race.  I started to itch.  My only sibling, Jackie, could die.   I asked my nephew to let me know as soon as there was any news on her condition.  I hung up and burst into uncontrollable tears.  I wasn’t prepared.  I should have been but I wasn’t ready to let her go.

I knew my sister had been sick for a couple of years.  This year Tony, her oldest son, told me that she was falling all the time and one day lay on the floor for 11 hours unable to move.  She is scheduled for hip surgery next month.  Although she has three children and five grand children, the light went out of her life when her husband died nine years ago of lung cancer.

She was lonely and depressed living in her small one bedroom apartment with her beloved cats.  She gave up her volunteer work, going out, and stopped eating.

I saw her two months ago when I had to make a business trip to Los Angeles.  We were always the same height, and wore the same dress and shoe sizes.  But who was this crooked, hunched over, gray-haired woman approaching me in a walker?  I almost didn’t recognize her.  I was startled by her appearance. I gave her a hug and my arms encircled a shockingly bony frame.  In the hospital she weighed a 98 pounds.

Could this be my once beautiful sister who thrilled audiences with her classically trained mezzo-soprano voice?  Was this the woman who dressed in stunning costumes and wore dramatic makeup for performances with the Los Angeles Opera Company?  I was so proud of her.  But she gave up her singing career to teach school to make money for her family.

My sister is nine years older than I.  She went away to college while I was still playing with dolls.  Then she married and moved to California.  We were never close.  The age difference and the distance left us with little in common, except our birth parents, both long gone.  Over the years there were infrequent visits but we remembered each other at Christmas and on our birthdays.

Late last night I heard from my nephew that tests were performed on my sister and that she was now lying in a bed in ICU, hooked up to a ventilator with tubes all over her body.  He said the doctors would know something in the morning, but he said the “prognosis doesn’t look good.”  That did it.

I am writing this on a plane headed for Los Angeles.  Three thousand miles I will travel to be by her side.  I have to be there.  It’s just the two of us.  Despite the distance and the different paths our lives took I hope she will realize that I dropped everything to go to her.  I will tell her I love her.  She’s my sister.


Nicole July 2, 2011 at 6:23 pm

My heart and prayers go out to you and your sister’s family. I am sure your sister will feel your presence, Carole.

Janet July 2, 2011 at 6:53 pm

Nothing like family when facing these difficult days. Wishing your sister healing and peace. Your post spoke for all of us who have a loved one in need.

Billie July 2, 2011 at 7:11 pm

Carol, My prayers are with you and Jackie!

Carolyn Moon July 2, 2011 at 7:35 pm

This is heartfelt and received and an event that so many of us can relate to at one point or another in our lives.

Positive thoughts and blessings as you rush to be at your sister’s side.

Tony Dillard July 3, 2011 at 1:00 am

This is your nephew Tony –

Carole this is such a wonderful synopsis of your genuine love for your sister. I am so thankful to you being here in California, to be by your sisters side and to comfort our family at this critical time in our lives… We’re never prepared for life’s challenges, but with God’s help and our trust in him makes this difficult time a bit easier to cope with.

Your presence has been a blessing to everyone in our small family here in Los Angeles. Though we may live thousands of miles apart from one another, that doesn’t seperate the devoted love that is shared by our families. You are a living example of what a loving family is supposed to do in a time of crisis, and I will always be forever grateful to you, my Auntie Carole… Remember, our love is reflected in love… always my love, Tony

Sharon Britt August 8, 2011 at 11:39 am

Ms. Simpson, I just had to write and let you know, I too have traveled this road. I was one of 5 sisters, no brothers. There are no siblings on earth closer than my sisters and I. However one of us has gone on as a result of a lung decease. WOW! I miss my sister so much. The two of us would fight all the time. Momma would tell us we would need each other one day and would be sorry because all the fighting would cause bitterness. Sandra and I grew up to be the closer of the 5 girls. I helped her with her children, and she loved and adored mine. I thank God for time, without it, fresh wounds would never heal. Be encouraged. I miss your face on ABC News.

Robin Skeie October 18, 2011 at 10:40 am

I know one thing for sure–if she is your sister, she is an outstanding person and I pray for her health to return.

Kathy Perkins Scott October 20, 2011 at 6:38 am

Hi Carole,
I have thought of you often since you retired from ABC and left the area. I miss you on Sunday nights doing “World News Tonight”. I hope all is well with you and your family. I hope your sister is doing much better now, didn’t know she had been ill, I will pray for her healing.
Hopefully someone is taking good care of your nails now as I did when you used to come to “At Your Fingertips” in DC. 🙂 Take care of yourself, you look great !

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