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August 15, 2013 8:52 am

MY LOUSY WORLD: Sis is still laughing in heaven

Written by Doug Blough

Aug. 5 was a great day. On that day 61 years ago, my wonderful big sister Wanda was born.

Oct. 28 is a terrible day. On that day eight years ago, Wanda died. Nothing has been quite as much fun since.

I normally do something special on Aug. 5 that I know she’d have liked, but busy on a roofing job and her birthday falling on a Monday, I neglected to plan anything birthday-special. I overslept and remembered I first needed to empty my truck at the dump and that an elderly couple was hoping I could mow their lawn. Thus I decided to forego any actual shingling for the day.

Wanda would have laughed hearing I slept late and gave myself a Monday off. After running some errands I’d forgotten previous workdays, like the pharmacy for medications, I got to Charlie and Tula’s house at 1 p.m. for my weekly mowing since macular degeneration has further robbed Charlie’s eyesight. Upon finishing, I sat in the back yard with 82-year-old Charlie, listening to his interesting stories (almost as interesting the fifth time around) about his wild younger life. I was in a hurry to get to the dump, but I don’t like to cut Charlie short.

Finally at the dump, I realized Wanda would think that was really cool helping friends 25 years my senior. She’d laugh shamelessly as I mimicked Charlie and his repetitive greeting each time: “How are they treating ya, pal? Not often enough?”

She’d give one of her famous “Aaaah”s hearing how my little Trina dog enjoys their large, shady back yard where she romps and rolls like a pup. She’d also be glad I’m regulating my meds to continue fighting my periodic anxiety and depression. She’d want to know all the details of how I’m feeling, and with some Wanda therapy, try and find solutions maybe the doctors hadn’t thought of.

At Trina’s other favorite spot, the dump, I furiously hand-raked a ton of shingles from my ancient truck for an hour in which I covetously observed three real roofing trucks with their hydraulic dumps emptying in minutes. When they wave farewell, I usually yell something like, “Oh yeah? You think I couldn’t have a dump truck if I wanted one?”

When I finally finished, I ran over my wheelbarrow which got wedged under my frame. Wanda would really cackle upon hearing that — her all-consuming laugh often doubled her over. Then she might say something motherly like, “Well, Doug, maybe if you quit gambling and didn’t take so many Mondays off, you really could afford a dump truck.”

It does my heart good to watch my aging dog exploring mountains of garbage, stopping to sniff and occasionally snack on something I cringe to imagine. I do worry, but I’ve taken her and dearly departed Trinity to that dump 100 times with no ill-effects except for me hanging my head out the window half-way back to town because someone rolled in something obscene.

That would draw another “Aaaah” from Wanda, requesting I take photos to send her. All my relatives like my pets since they know how much I love them, but Wanda truly loved them right along with me. She’d send photos of her precious kitties, Stormy and Junior, and I’d send photos of Trinity, Trina and the kitties.

I seldom take pet photos anymore with no one to truly appreciate them. Next to little children — and oh how she’d love and cherish her only granddaughter Aurora, who she never got to meet — Wanda loved animals most.

Later in the evening as I sunk into my familiar couch womb watching TV and angrily swatting flies off my bare skin, I remembered I had one of those “Tat” fly strips.

Wanda would have laughed herself silly hearing of me mightily struggling with a task as simple as hanging a fly strip. When I’d unfurl it to the end, it kept rolling back upward and sticking to itself.

As I stood on my couch with the strip sticking to my hands and arms, flies were buzzing my head as if it were all for their amusement.  In between breathless giggles, Wanda would recount how she’d once had that same problem and probably write down step-by-step instructions of how she solved it.

Watching a Pirates baseball game I had recorded, my mind drifted to sad regret that I had done nothing special to commemorate how much I miss Wanda. Then I realized I had done plenty of special things for her birthday.

I was just me, with all my flaws, idiosyncrasies and bad habits that normal society might find borderline disgusting. She loved that kind of thing.

I picture Wanda in heaven smiling serenely in-between bursts of unbridled laughter, telling God, “I knew he was gonna run over that wheelbarrow!”


  • Comment Link August 19, 2013 7:14 pm posted by Phoebes

    This column was a very nice tribute to your sister. I am sure you will keep her laughing. Phoebes

  • Comment Link August 28, 2013 10:28 am posted by Carolyn

    A very special column - I'm sure your sister is not only laughing but is very proud!!

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