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When Gail was a baby, she took longer than usual to start talking.  She didn’t need to talk.  She had a big sister to speak for her and make sure she got what she wanted and needed.  Perhaps there is a symmetry to life as I find myself speaking here today.  Gail was my baby sister.

There was less than three years difference in our ages, so we grew up together.  We were constant playmates when we were young.  I remember the hours we spent in Barbie fantasy land.  We made clothes for the dolls.  We were years ahead of Mattel in developing Barbie couture.  We fought over the Ken doll that had two arms.  The other Ken lost one of his in a tragic backyard accident.  We even dyed my blonde Barbie’s hair with a black marker so it would have the same color hair as her doll.  After all, sisters are supposed to have the same color hair.  We also got in big trouble over it as the process resulted in black marker getting on much more than just the doll’s hair.

I remember the great fun we had teasing and, yes, torturing our little brother.  Being the youngest and outnumbered, he never had a chance.  Standing outside the screen door with him trapped inside, chanting “Bruce, the Goose” never failed to send us into fits of laughter and him howling to Mom in anguish.  We found infinite ways to entertain ourselves and, most definitely, endless reasons to bicker and brawl.  Just because she was the quiet one, no one should even be deceived that she did not instigate as often as I.  She had great curiosity, creativity and mischief in her soul.  I don’t believe I have any early childhood memories that don’t include Gail.

We shared a room with matching bedspreads.  We shared toys and books.  We even shared the same bad haircut for far too many years.  Sorry, Mom.  We shared clothes and shoes.  We shared our secrets and our dreams.  We shared our disappointments and our tragedies.  We shared our lives.  We shared everything . . . as only sisters can and we fought   . . . as only sisters can, but through it all we loved each other . . . as only sisters can.  A lifetime is a long time to spend sharing with someone.  Right now, I can’t imagine life without her, but I know she will always remain in all things I was lucky enough to share with her and never further away than my heart.

My sister lost her battle with ovarian cancer last Saturday, February 4, 2012.  She will be sorely missed.

For any wishing to make a contribution, we believe Gail would have wanted to help others fighting the battle she did and would suggest donations to The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (OCRF).  Your gifts would support OCRF’s mission to fund the best and most promising ovarian cancer research to find better ways to prevent, treat, and cure this disease.

Under the “Donate/Tribute Information” Section please indicate Gail Smith as the Honoree.  Please use James Tuba at email for the contact and select e-mail notification.

Telephone Pole

Image by Nicholas Smale via Flickr

Cryptic contact
No rhyme or reason
What’s it really all about?

The call, a query
Inane conversation
Harmless seeming banter

“Hey, what’s shakin’?”
“How have you been?”
Sly code seeking new status

Nothing implied
No point or promise
Merely checking now and then

“Husband is well”
“Yeah, wife’s good too”
Nothing more to speak of

She knows she’s changed
That life long gone
Why cling to that persona?

He’s different too
Intent not known
What’s he seek to find there?

Farewell for now
“We’ll talk again soon
Catch you on the flip side”

“Sure, later babe
Must keep in touch”
Shades of disappointment

Beg your pardon?
What was the purpose?
As much to blame as he is

This trip they make
From time to time
Down a path that leads them nowhere

Work . . .

Most insincere

Trying to guess what
They want to hear

Need a job so
The game I play

Trying to guess what
I’m suppose to say

Grin and bear it
Smile through it all

No job too much or
Compensation small

Really don’t want them
These jobs I pursue

My God how I hate
The interview

Love . . .

Not quite sincere

Try to be all that
Will keep you near

Need to be loved so
The words I say

Wait in fear seeing
If you will stay

Hiding my tears
Sweet through it all

No abuse too much or
Recognition small

Want you to love me
The one I pursue

But this feels like
A job interview

Life . . .

Heart felt, sincere

Trying to do right
Try to see clear

Pray for redemption
Every new day

Look to tomorrow
How it will play

Put weakness aside
Enduring it all

No trial too much or
Temptation small

More worthy a life
All I pursue

Just to be ready for
St. Pete’s interview

The room was filled with the souvenirs gathered throughout a life of adventure.  The bullroarer collected in the Outback lay on the shelf next to the Tumi knife picked up in Cuzco.  The Tibetan Thangka hung near the window opposite a Baule mask from the Ivory Coast.  The Xianpgi set bartered for in the Pangiayan Market and bone china tea set acquired in Edinburgh graced the top of the Kotatsu table radiating warmth from the corner.  Numerous bits and pieces amassed wandering the world vied with one another for attention in the small hospice room dominated by the hospital bed which had only recently dwarfed its fragile occupant.

A man well-traveled had just died here . . . alone.  For all his exploits, he had never had the time to make the human connection.  Never did he experience the greatest of all adventures.    Never did he wait with baited breath for the birth of a child.  Never did he work a job he hated to provide for a family he loved more than himself.  Never did he return to the loving arms of a woman graying and past her prime.   Never did he stand proud at the graduation of a son or the wedding of a daughter.  Never did he cry silent in the night not knowing how he would be everything needed by those in his charge.   Never did he hear the words “I love you” from one he had given up his dreams for.

The young orderly stood surveying the mess he was packing up for disposal.  He searched for a picture, or a letter, or indication of any kind there was someone that would want to know a lost and lonely soul had left this world . . . anyone that would want something here to remember the sad, miserable man that had spent the last days of his life in this forlorn place.  The youth closed and taped each box of the now worthless hoard of memories unshared, feeling a sorrow for the adventurer once envied. 

The cell phone in his pocket rang.  It was his wife.  The baby was colicky.  His son’s soccer team had lost.  The electric bill was past due. She was frustrated and exhausted.  She waited for him to respond, but he was only now understanding the treasures of his own adventures.   All he could say as he choked back tears was “I love you.”

I feel the calming
Meant to quiet me
But I cannot be tame

I know the intent
Is for my own good
I’m just not the same

I see their fingers
Pointed straight at me
Still I reject their blame

I hear those whispering
Hushed behind my back
And hand them back their shame

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March 2023