The Human Experience: A Mother's Love....My Sister Darlys
There is a strength inside all of us that is more than sufficient to get us through the toughest of times. Some people, for whatever reason, never find that strength, never harness the inner fortitude that can carry them through the trials of life and as such stumble through the years shell-shocked, forever the victim of those events that bring them to their knees and keep them from rising to their full stature.
Then there are those who take hits head-on, are knocked to the ground and continually get back up, determined not to be beaten, determined not to be defeated, and in fact scream through their actions that life is for living and nothing is going to stop them from squeezing every last ounce of enjoyment from their life.
That was my sister Darlys! She passed on a few years ago, a victim of cancer, and I would like you to know about her and by extension perhaps come to appreciate her and others like her who refuse to surrender and in fact seem to flourish despite the hardships.
HER EARLY LIFE
Darlys was eleven when I was adopted into the family. There is very little I can tell you about her in those early years; I remember very little about her from those first few years and she was married and moved out by the time I was six. I know for a fact that she had a tough childhood but it would serve no purpose to relate the things she had to live through at such a young age.
I have always suspected that I was adopted as a solution of sorts for our family, fresh blood if you will, the glue that would hold the family together. As such I was raised in a much different manner than my sister; I was the Golden Boy who walked a much smoother trail than she. It would not be an exaggeration to say everything that was lacking in my sister’s young life was in abundance in mine. Logically and understandably my sister should have resented me from an early age and yet I can say without hesitation that I couldn’t have asked for a more loving sibling.
THE MIDDLE YEARS
By the time I was a teen Darlys was married and had her first of five children; the other four came at regular intervals so that by the time I was in college her family was fully-formed. I spent a great deal of my youth visiting with my sister and playing with her kids, a proud uncle who enjoyed playing catch with her oldest son and taking the growing brood to the park to play. I remember taking a road trip to Los Angeles with her family, playing with the kids and hanging out with the adults. I remember holidays when the whole family gathered, all trying to “get along” so that the holidays would be something special. I remember watching my sister grow in her duties as a mother, struggling at first but eventually settling into the role of loving mother, a role she would embrace for the rest of her life.
At some point in time and again I apologize for the vagueness, she, her husband and the five kids moved to North Dakota to be closer to her husband’s family. They would live there for awhile and then suddenly be back in the Pacific Northwest where they would live for another spell before moving once again back in the Dakotas. This was a pattern that would repeat itself often over the years.
She and I would talk occasionally on the phone and I would drive back to visit every few years. Through the middle years of our relationship I recall nothing but love for each other, a distant love but love nonetheless. They had tough times as a family, struggling financially and always seeming to be one step ahead of the collectors, but I never heard my sister complain. I never heard her play the “what if” game and I never heard her bemoan her life. What I do remember clearly is the pride in her voice when she would talk about her children and eventually her grandchildren. As her family continued to grow my sister dedicated more and more of her time constructing a safe and loving home for everyone, in effect giving them the stability in their lives that she did not have in her early life. Phone calls would be dominated with stories about one of her sons or one of her daughters and that in turn would lead to stories about the grandkids and on and on it would go until our conversation would end with “I love you, Sis,” and “I love you, Bill.”
THE LATER YEARS.
So the years passed! I struggled with alcoholism and my sister was always there to support me through the tough times, never judging me, always showing love to me. She and her family made one more trip out west and Darlys eventually worked for a time in a store I owned and then they all moved a final time to North Dakota and our relationship became the occasional phone call and nothing more. The love was always there but circumstances separated us until the day our mother became ill and I had to call my sister to come out and help me with all the details associated with an ailing parent who needs full-time care.
We took care of those details, she returned to her family and mom eventually died. Shortly after that my sister and I had an argument and we quit speaking to each other and that is how it remained until the day she died.
We always think there will be time to mend fences and say what we really feel, and then the day comes when a loved one dies and time has run out and the words that would have meant so much are left unsaid. So it was for me and my sister.
What began as a family of four in 1948 is now only me and I am left with reflections on the family members who shaped my life. By no stretch of the imagination could it be said that my sister had an easy life and yet she lived her life with dignity and love for her family. I’m not sure there is a finer thing that can be said about a person.
Darlys did not have any outstanding talents; she was never celebrated by adoring masses nor was she written about for her achievements. She was like so many out there who simply take the hand they were dealt and make the best of it. She did not complain about her fate nor did she envy others for their good fortune. In fact I have never heard someone say a negative word about her, a fact I find amazing for someone who lived into her Seventies. She helped others when they needed it and she loved her family unconditionally….and she was my sister and I loved her.
When I think about her now I do not dwell on the circumstances that led her and I to quit speaking to one another. What would be the point in that? We were brother and sister for over fifty years and that transcends any stupid misunderstanding we had in the last few years.
I am told by her daughters that she spoke often of me during her final years and loved me very much. I have no doubt about that because she always supported me and showed me her love. She left behind five wonderful kids, countless grandchildren and a legacy of devotion and love which she passed on to her children who now live in accordance with that legacy.
I have spoken often in my writings about the wonderful childhood I had; my sister did not have a similar childhood and although she had every reason to be envious and jealous of my upbringing she did not choose to do so. She chose, instead, to love me!
2012 Bill Holland (aka billybuc)