Suzy's Blog/September 2006        Click for Suzy's Blog Summary

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Things are changing. I can smell it in the air, see it in the slanted light, hear it as the wind whistles through my pine trees. Iím restless, unsettled. I want to go somewhere. Whatís wrong with me?

I forget this happens every year. Itís my fall mode, years of conditioning when fall was both an end and a beginning. Fall meant going back to school, saying good-bye to summer, starting anew, getting on the train, heading east. It was a mixed bag of anticipation and sadness.

My Sept. 18 New Yorker arrives, itís cover a young couple facing one another under a giant, deep blue tree with a background of oranges, yellows and greens. Itís got a mood and that mood is mine. I turn the pages of find the title. NOSTALGIA. Thatís it, thatís what Iíve got. No pill is going to cure this. Iíll just have to wait until the leaves have fallen.

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We got to talking about being little sisters of big sisters at a luncheon the other day and were surprised to discover we have carried similar attitudes throughout life as a result of this special place we occupied in our families growing up. Lunching together that day was a pretty powerful group of women all having made some kind of mark in the world on their way to grandmotherhood - an attorney, a doctor, an artist, a professional musician, teachers. All we "little" sisters - and there were quite a few - agreed, we went out into the wider world feeling younger, less experienced and not quite as capable as those around us. This attitude didn't change appreciably as we became the oldest among our peers and outwardly successful. There was a big disconnect between how we acted and how we felt. Oh it was good to know we weren't alone, we little sisters.

None of the older sisters present made comment. Would they admit they always felt in charge and experienced an ongoing sense of always knowing best? I don't think so. Would they admit their younger sisters have taught them a thing or two? If cornered, probably yes. All I really know is when my husband asks about my older sister after she and I have had our weekly hour long phone conversation, he comments that I relate what she has said as though they were pronouncements from God.

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We met Jim early on in our married life. He was Grace's other half and since she was such a shining light, Jim was, well, Grace's husband, a role I think he enjoyed and a role he played well. Grace would have flown away, a beautiful balloon heading heavenward without Jim to hold the string. Don't get me wrong, Jim was also his own man with wit and a quiet strength, the perfect foil for his Grace.

Our lives touched over the years, not with regularity, but with pleasure when they did. Grace and I were kindred souls, sharing a love of music and a certain "take"on life, one of those friendships where you pick up right where you left off, though it might have been a long time in between.

A few weeks ago Jim died. He had lost touch with our world, a victim of Alzheimer's disease. His death was the release of a good soul, but nonetheless, a loss.

I sat down to write Grace a letter of condolence not really knowing what I was going to say until the words came on their own to fill the page. I was surprised by what seemed important. Yes, there were reminiscences about happy moments we had shared, but what I remembered was how Jim's face would light up with recognizable pleasure when we met. Oh that made me feel wonderful. Serotonin flowed over the ensuing conversation! His light wasn't just for me, it extended to all his friends, an inner glow of warmth for those he cared about.

Someone wise said, what our friends will remember about us is not all those great things we accomplished or failed to accomplish, but how they made us feel about ourselves. As I reread what I had written, I realized, HOW TRUE.

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