My sister Ruth is quite a bit older than I am, 21 years. She had two children before I was even a twinkle in my father's eyes. So when I came into the world I was already an aunt. It lead for interesting comments growing up. But this page is not about me, it is about my sister Ruth. She has had a hard life. When she was born they were living in a low-income area of Toledo, and my parents didn't have a lot of money. During the WWII years my dad went off to war with the Navy Reserves. I am sure that was scary for my eldest siblings, Ruth included, to have our dad off in some faraway place. Ruth married when she was 17 and had her firstborn when she was 18. She lived in Toledo and I remember going to visit her at their house. She was more like another mom to me than a sister though, and I guess I didn't mind too much. Now we are fairly close. I like to think so anyway, even though we live 1300 miles apart.
Her eldest daughter Karen is about 3 yrs older than I am and I can remember when we were kids and she would tell her friends that I was her aunt but they thought she was lying since I was younger than her. I always thought that was funny. Karen's oldest child was born when I was only 16, making me a great aunt before I even had kids of my own. Now he has 2 kids and one on the way. Being a grand great aunt really makes me feel old. Here is a picture of Karen taken in the summer of 2006.
I have fond memories of all of Ruth's children. I think we were closest because they came over almost every weekend. Ruth's son, Bill, is only 14 months older than I am and just the right age for me to go all googoo over all of his friends. When we were 10-11 yrs old we were dressed in sailor clothes (yes, both of us) and when we were walking into Sears with my mom, someone commented on us being twins. That was kind of funny. I will post a photo of Bill when I get one scanned.
Ruth's daughter Sue, who was only 4 1/2 months younger than me, ended up being my best friend during childhood. We were meant to be friends, I always said. I have so many childhood memories of Sue and I. Some of them hilarious, others sad. Sue and I are pretty close to this day, even though we had a few years where we went our own ways. She has always been a constant for me though, and I will always cherish our memories. Last summer I drove all the way from Oregon to see her. We got to spend a day at Cedar Point, my favorite amusement park. She and I also went to the Barrett Cemetery in Kunkle Ohio to photograph the headstones of our ancestors. Here is a photo of Sue taken last summer.
Ruth had one more daughter, Becky. She was 4 yrs younger than Sue and I and we always had to let her tag along. We hated that, of course. One year, though, when we were little girls we pretended our names were Candy, Sandy and Bandy. Those were good times. When Becky was 16 and I was 20 we were pretty close. We even double dated a couple of times. Things weren't always rosey with us though. There was a time when we were not very close, and I actually thought she hated me. Of course, my sister Pam said that she didn't and I tried to believe her. In 2001, though, after a time when Becky and I were beginning to get close again, she was hit head on and died at the scene. She left 2 kids, one a natural child and the other adopted. I do miss her and I regret all of those years when I could have gotten to know her better but I didn't.
More about Ruth: When she was married there was a lot of turmoil in her family. I don't want to point fingers so I will just leave it with that. I know that she had it rough and I am proud of her for getting out of a loveless marriage and making a go of it on her own. Sure, she made a few mistakes along the way, (don't we all?) but she is doing okay now and is happy. She deserves that, if nothing else.
If there is one thing I want to say about this is is this: Don't let the years go by without forgiving your family for wrongs they may have done to you, and love them with all your heart, give them the benefit of the doubt. Just forgive them.
To the left you will see a photo of me and Ruth, taken at my son Andy's wedding.