Friday, June 8, 2012


My southern mother had three children, Valerie Faye, Robert Andrew, III (Bobby) and me, Susan Elizabeth.
Carrie Mae and Valerie, circa 1950

Valerie was and still is the mother hen, taking care of everyone and doing a great job of it.  A wonderful example of an emotionally healthy first-born.  But her life has changed drastically in the last few months.  Valerie and her husband were married for 46 years when he passed away this year.  She had been his caregiver for quite a while and now, with her house empty, she is learning to do things "for Valerie".  Sleeping a bit later than usual, shopping as long as she wants without having to rush home, watching scandalous TV shows such as "The Real Housewives"!!!  She's doing things that most women in their 60's take for granted.  God bless her little heart.  She's my best friend in the whole world.  

Family Reunion, circa 1956.
Valerie is holding me in the front row, center.
She and I are the type of southern women that when we call one another on the phone, you can count the seconds until one of us starts laughing hardily.  We aren't prim and proper, but women who love each other and really love talking to one another!  Yes, we gossip from time-to-time but a more likely scenario is one of us making fun of the other or ourselves.  It goes like this....Val:  "Hello, my little sister.  What're you up to?"  Me:  "Same as always, 5'4", unless of course I've started shrinking!".  We have said this to one another so many times, but we still laugh about the silliness of it.  We're southern women that know how silly we are and bask in it!  Now, not all men understand or, more importantly, appreciate this in a woman, but we really don't care.  You see, the way we love each other and laugh at and with each other is like being in a secret club.  You have to be confident in yourself to be able to laugh at yourself AND to be laughed at! (yes, I ended that sentence with a preposition)

Me and Val, circa 1964
Valerie is and always has been a real beauty.  I tell her how amazed I am that she's still blonde after all these years.  Why, I'm actually astonished!  She has the bluest eyes you've ever seen unless you've also seen our daddy.  She looks like his side of the family....tall, slim, blue-eyed, prominent noses (of course her's magically shrunk a few decades ago).  I, on the other hand, look like our southern mother....short, brunette, big smile, I mean, a REALLY big smile, and most of the time no one would call me slim.  Valerie and I look nothing alike at all.  No one would look at us side by side and even be able to guess that we are related until we opened our mouths and started talking and laughing.  We've been told many times that we sound the same on the phone.  It may be that our voices are very similar but I dare say that some of that similarity comes from the fact that we're both joyful, happy, gregarious women and you can hear all of that in our voices.  I know I hear it in hers.  

Valerie, age 16
If you're blessed as I have been to have a big sister like Val, then you understand how much I love her.  I tell her I'd take a bullet for her, but since she's so much taller than I am, well, I'd probably just duck!