This was a question I have been asked every June 21st for the last forty years. It is part of a ritual that grew out of a query I once presented to a nun/teacher at Sts. Cyril and Methodius Roman Catholic School. I was of indeterminate age and have no personal recollection of ever saying it. My Dear Sainted Mother started and maintained this potential urban legend that has become ritual and nurtured in the ensuing years. My Sweet Deifiúr maintained it.
I will no longer be hearing that question on the First Day of Summer. The latter perpetrator of this questionable legend passed away on April 16th after a protracted war with the disease of Leukemia. My darling Sweet Deifiúr, Paula, no longer walks this plain, and I am bereft and overwhelmed with the enormity of my loss.
The name which caused a level of uncertainty as to its ancestry was given me by this gentle woman. I enjoyed the comfort and love of knowing that the world will be bearable and good as long as I had the ability to speak with my sister. She always watched over her little brother and now is guarding over me from a place I hope and pray we both inhabit in the future.
She was the embodiment of every good feeling someone can have. She never looked at anyone with an undeserved harsh view. Even those she found lacking in this world had, in her mind, something that was special and fine within them. She was fiercely loyal, and overwhelmingly dedicated to those she loved. She loved more people than she did not. Even those she found disfavor with were never loathed. Hate was not in her…ever.
There were constants in this life that are no longer as tenacious as when she was with us. As mentioned, the dubious inquiry every June 21st, the greeting every March 17th with an offer of Irish Soda Bread and a joyous “Erin go Bragh,” and the passionate belief that her brother was the best writer in the world are but a few of these constants. Said constants that are now memories and, hopefully, fond commemorations after the grief dissipates.
I admit to sloth in the writing of this piece. I have wandered around my house in a daze. I have avoided the phone and allowed the Internet to dissuade me from this writing. It somehow does not seem to be of any importance right now. My love of, and ability to, string words together into a cognizant and attractive manner pale in the face of the loss, to the entire world, of this wonderful woman. I search for muse and find it absent. I wish to regale you with memories of her and find that there are too many to list. From the dedication to those she loved, the good she did, to the pecan pie she was never able to bake without it coming out as hard as asphalt, there are just too many to fathom at this moment.
While my distress is at the top of my feelings, I have responsibility in me to honor her. Everything I learned about responsibility as well as the difference between right and wrong I learned from her. The lessons every man should learn about being a gentleman and respecting women, I learned from her. The ability to have and live by values and principles that are greater than me, I learned from her. The fear I have ongoing is for those things in life I have yet to learn and who is going to teach them to me. A better teacher than my sister does not seem to exist.
What I do know, more than anything else, is that my sister did not lie to me. The last words she spoke to me were – “I love you.” The last message she asked Captain Domesticado to relay to me was - ”Tell Timmy that it is going to be all right.” Both declarations that I cannot doubt…after all…my sister did not lie to me…ever.
I love you Paula!