Mourning a Sister — and Fellow RoadBroad

I still reel from the news: my eldest sister is dead.

Late Wednesday, a sheriff’s detective knocked on my front door, asked me to sit down, and told me that Mimi had been found deceased in her home.

I remain in shock. So does my other sister, Merrilynn.

We three sisters were/are textbook Baby Boomers. Born 3–1/2 years apart in the ’50s, we specialized in one thing: loving each other deeply while living independent lives with very different personalities.

We called ourselves, “Sisters United!”

We met on the road many times, including in Austin 40 years ago last May.

Our mother took this photo of us after my graduation from the University of Texas at Austin.

Mimi, Merrilynn, and Melanie = Sisters United!

Have you ever seen three sisters who looked so different from each other?

Our college experiences mirrored and contrasted in interesting ways.

Mimi also graduated from UT-Austin, three years before me. Merrilynn’s graduation came in 1977 at nearby Southwestern University, where I attended my freshman year of college.

My university graduation was a miracle (said the older sisters; in retrospect, I agree). Their degrees came in multiple, both of them earning diplomas at the post-graduate level. Me? I stopped at bachelor.

We shared degrees but not careers: pharmacy, education, and journalism. Link these, anyone?

By 2006, the three of us ended up together again, this time living separately in the Houston area. We moved our aging mother to the area, watching over her as only devoted daughters can.

We managed several road trips with Mother before she could no longer travel. New York (twice). California. New Mexico. Around Texas.

Sisters Birthday Dinner, 2012

2012 was a tumultous year in our family.

We had to move Mother into memory care. Merrilynn’s husband died of pancreatic cancer. My brain exploded from a ruptured aneurysm.

That fall, we sisters came together again. We joined Merrilynn’s tribe to celebrate her birthday that September.

Sometimes a family needs that kind of fundamental happy, if only for a single evening. I forever remember the tears that lined my eyes that night. They felt permanent.

Here we are now, seven years later — almost to the day.

Two sisters remain. 2019 is now another soul-breaking year.  

I wonder how these cycles of life repeat. Death and life, hearts shattered and minds overwhelmed. Again. 

But, always, Sisters United!

As a final note, let me editorialize:

Mimi did not leave a will. She also did not plan to die unexpectedly.

Reality always beats naivete, creating a different journey for surviving family.

I beg you: love your family enough to leave a will. No one’s grief should become overburdened by unnecessary complications required by the probate experience we now face.

To each of you, thank you for sharing this life and road trip with me.

I love you.

10 Replies to “Mourning a Sister — and Fellow RoadBroad”

    1. Thank you, Dorothy. You remember Mimi from our delightful brunch in Boulder. She loved spending time with you and Roger at the teahouse. I will miss most her thrill of good books…

  1. Melanie, our hearts go out to you. Only time can buffer the pain. 

    Thank you for your words about the need for a will. Advising people on their finances is sometimes difficult because so many don’t want to face the inevitability that none of us get out of life alive…and it doesn’t always give you warning signs. Without proper planning one can leave behind difficult times for loved ones. 

    Find a financial planner and a good attorney who can work together to set you up with not only retirement, but also with documentation to make grieving easier for those left behind. 

    Consider a will, living will, a trust to avoid probate, and so many other things important to the move to whatever you believe is next.

    1. Wise words at every level, Charlie! The planning should also include Power of Attorney and Living Will documentation. Another reason people avoid pre-death planning is it can be a complicated process, on top of the emotional reasons.

  2. So sorry for your loss. We appreciate those we love so much more deeply when suddenly they are no longer with us. And thanks for your comments on having a will. We all know theoretically “some day” we’ll die. One of the greatest gifts we can give our families is to take care of some day before it takes everyone by surprise.

  3. Melanie -
    Your loss is another wake-up call. Live every moment because the end of your movie may be closer than you think. After writing a post for my blog about not leaving any messes for your family to clean up when you’re gone, I practiced what I was preaching and got our wills and affairs in order. Your time as three “sisters United” sounds magical. I’m so sorry you’ve lost your Mimi but jealous of your wonderful memories.

    1. Thank you, Linda, for the heartfelt condolences. “Magical” is an apt word for 62 years with this wonderful sister who I will miss for the rest of my days. And wake-up call for all of us is exactly right, too. Being prepared for the end that comes to us all is really just another word for Love.

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