The first time I was separated from my sister, it was because of a wedding. She married and moved away. I was six years old and, until then, was happily sharing a teeny bedroom with her in our family’s 2 bed/1 bath suburban home in Houston, Texas. We had a partner’s agreement as we crawled into the small full sized bed at night. She read me fairytales and I scratched her back. After she moved I had to adjust to reading to myself and missing my sister. I didn’t fully understand why she had to leave.
Over the decades, off and on, we alternately lived far away from each other and in the same neighborhood. Busy raising our families and managing our lives, during those times when we were not in close proximity, we often lost touch for long periods. With the advent of email we were able to keep up with each other more often than using snail mail. Long distance cost too much back in the day so we rarely talked on the phone.
After she was widowed we were eventually able to live under the same roof. For the last seven and a half years we have been blessed to share daily life with each other as close as two sisters or best friends could ever be.
Our best times were our weekly out-and-about days. We ran errands, poked around in second hand shops, got pedicures and chatted and laughed over lunch at one of our favorite local restaurants. In the beginning of our final partnership, we walked around the property for exercise nearly every morning and then stopped to gather up grand dogs to come hang with us during the day when their owners were off working. Gradually, over time, this routine flatlined as we aged. In the last year and a half, after the dreaded diagnosis, our out and about days slowly went from four stops to no more than two. Daily walking became a distant memory.
And then as the cancer took over our routine became more of a count down, taking each day as it came.
Second only to my brother, George, my sister, Jo, was the funniest person I’ve ever known. Sometimes, as we were driving somewhere, she would say something that would make me laugh so hard, in the interest of safety, I would have to pull over and stop until I could compose myself.
She was a paradox of fretting over anything and yet still able to always see the beauty in everything. She was completely grateful for whatever she had in her glass no matter how little. She never complained or asked for anyone to do anything for her. Ever. She never boasted or wanted attention. Her focus was always outward, not inward. Once, as she was telling me a worrisome story, she stopped and gazed out the window and remarked - “Oh, look! My hibiscus has a double bloom! Isn’t that beautiful!”
She was my hero for 73 years.
As we are now separated one more time, I console myself that, not only will we see each other again, we were gifted with these amazing last years to be together, partnered in the last seven years as we were in the first six. Sharing and caring.
JoAnn Sorrell Booker - 6.9.1935 - 4.5.2020
Rest in peace, sweet Jo. You earned it.
I’m counting on you to keep the porch light on.