My younger sister, Kelley, wrote this sweet and funny letter for an album I created for Debbie’s surprise 50th birthday party (1/8/2005)
There is a ten year age difference between me and my sister Debbie. Many of my memories of Debbie are from the perspective of a young girl who couldn’t wait to grow up to be just like her big sister. There are certain memories associated with various people in my life that identify what those people have meant to me. I recall these often—without reason—but always with great fondness. My memories of Debbie are:
When I was six or seven years old, Debbie was: skating and boyfriends, beautiful hair and go-go boots, short dresses and a page boy wig. One time she dyed her hair so black it looked green in certain lights—pretty funny to a little kid. She was also in high school—that elusive place that kids are in awe of until they get there. She was beautiful to me…she hung out at the skating rink and could even skate backwards. I remember her rounding those corners and flipping her hair out, doing that jive-talking move. She had her own skates with big pink fuzzy pompoms with jingle bells on them. And she had friends that were boys. That was a big deal to me. I remember going with Debbie to meet Duke in the mall parking lot. I don’t know what they talked about, but he had long brown hair and I thought he was so cool and I had a crush on him. I also remember Tony and Rick Chiavacci. One of those brothers would honk his horn in front of our house—that didn’t make my father very happy. I also remember my mom making her buy us Christmas presents one year—she bought us Goody barrettes and wrapped them in Bandaid boxes.
When I was eight years old and throughout my teen years, Debbie was simply my older sister. She lived at home with us when we first moved to Donna and she had her own bedroom with a furry purple bedspread and flowered curtains. Mom used to put laundry on Debbie’s bed to fold—the laundry was then pushed off the side of the bed, against the wall and out of sight. I know that happened at least one time. Debbie took guitar lessons and learned how to sing “Hang Down Your Head, Tom Dooley”— always a crowd-pleaser. She wore cool clothes…sizzler skirts, wide legged pants…“lounge lizard larry” disco blouses and she had an 8-track player. She wore Charlie and drove a Maverick—she was ultra cool. She saw “The Sound of Music” too many times to be possible. She also worked at Sears for a short time in the candy department. Did they even have a candy department? She moved into her own apartment at some point and got married when I was in the sixth grade. I thought she looked beautiful. Her bridesmaids wore flowered dresses with butterfly sleeves and we ate Swedish meatballs. Cindy and I were too young to be bridesmaids, but I imagined myself being up there with her other friends. She also went to Hawaii one time with Bill—this was used to impress all my friends. She and Bill took us to the drive-in with them to watch “A Star is Born,” but Cindy and I watched the steamier movie on the other screen through the tiny back windows in the Elite. I think we fooled them. Why didn’t they question us with our faces pressed against one side of the car? This has always been a mystery to me.
In my late teens and throughout my twenties, Debbie was married and a mother to Lauren and then Landen. She was still cool but she did end up driving a mini-van—a far cry from the Corvette she always said she would drive. She loaned me money to buy some clothes for my first job at the bank in Donna. Did I ever pay her back? She moved to San Antonio and I eventually lived there for a while and the age gap between us began to shrink. How does that happen? Every Thursday night, we watched “Knots Landing” together to make fun of anything and everything.
We would also watch any and all beauty pageants together for the slight chance of seeing someone trip or reveal just a touch of cellulite. We were all over that one. If we could have seen the contestants toes, we would have made fun of those also. Not sure why we did this but it was a lot of fun. Debbie and I took cake decorating lessons together. She excelled at this—I did not. I just had fun hanging out with her and her friends. Debbie let me and Thelma put Landen in a big mixing bowl and spin him around the kitchen floor when he was a little baby…just a couple of times, for grins. She also let us use the pizza pan. He had fun and we did, too. Is that a cool Mom or what?
In my thirties, Debbie has become much more than my big sister. That age gap has officially closed, or so it seems. That thing she does called “motherhood” is now part of my life and only until recently have I begun to realize how trying—yet richly rewarding—being a mother can be, and how both my mother and Debbie have set great examples for me to live by. Debbie can be described in many ways—wife, mother of two beautiful children, daughter, sister, aunt, friend, co-worker, baseball mom, flag mom, dancing machine, confidante…the list goes on. The person that Debbie has evolved into through the years is a person that I admire, cherish and love—both as a sister and as a dear and trusted friend.
Here’s to Fifty Years of Wonderful You…Happy Birthday, Deboo!
Editor’s Note: Debbie says that she sold shoes, not candy, at Sears. And yes, there was a candy department at Sears at one time.