Sharon Randall: Queen for a day
Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 29, 2022
Every woman, at least once in her life, ought to be Queen for a Day. My sister Bobbie waited 80 years for her turn.
It came last week on her 80th birthday, when we honored Her Majesty with a royal wingding.
The celebration was shared by some thirty guests: Bobbie’s children and grandchildren, our brother Joe and more cousins than I’ve hugged since I ran off to live in California of All Places.
Every story, no matter how it’s told, has different meanings for different people. This story is about my family. But I hope it’s about your family, too.
My sister was always “the pretty one.” In her 20s, she worked on an assembly line in a mill and modeled the mill’s line of clothing for corporate buyers.
When her children grew up, she earned a nursing degree and spent years doing three 12-hour shifts a week as an ICU nurse.
After she retired, the strokes began and life became a series of bad falls and hospital food.
Her latest fall confined her to a wheelchair and a nursing home. She keeps in touch by phone with family, especially Joe, who is blind and disabled by cerebral palsy. She calls him daily or he calls her. If she doesn’t answer, he calls me in a panic.
I had planned to do a party for Bobbie, but was thrilled when Cousin Sara and her sweet husband, the Bear Man, offered to host it at their home. They did everything. My only job was to transport the guests of honor to and from the party.
So last week I flew to Charlotte, drove to Landrum, S.C. (my hometown) and checked into a place on a lake.
Joe and Bobbie were 30 miles away in Spartanburg. For three days, I drove back and forth to visit them. Then on Saturday, I hurried down to pick them up.
I knew it wouldn’t be simple. Suffice it to say, I’ll forever be in debt to all the folks who helped get them in and out of the car.
I wanted to do Bobbie’s makeup for the party. (Before the strokes, she never left home without it.) But she did it all herself. I just blended the blush (so she looked less on fire) and put her hair up in a bun.
Staring at a mirror, she shook her head, as if to say, “I’m not young any more.” But to me, she will always be the “pretty one.”
Joe is a big fan of the Clemson Tigers. He was listening to their game on the radio, but gave it up to go to the party. When I couldn’t find the game on the car radio, he said, “It’s OK, Sister. You tried your best.”
On the 40-minute drive to the party, Joe kept saying he could hardly wait to see everybody.
Then, for three fine hours, the remnants of our family talked and laughed and ate and doted on both Bobbie and Joe.
I kept watching them for signs of fatigue. Joe heard Clemson won in double overtime, so he was grinning like a mule eating briars and happy to stay for a second helping of cake.
Bobbie was hard to read. Strokes have dimmed her dazzling smile. But her eyes told me she felt safe and loved wrapped in the arms of her family.
I wish you could’ve seen her.
Finally, it was time to go. Bobbie’s grandson Cree held her close and eased her into the front seat of the car. Bear Man helped Joe into the back.
As we pulled out, all the family lined up along the driveway to wave us a royal farewell.
The drive back was quieter than the drive to the party. But at one point, Joe said, “It sure was great having our family together again.” And Bobbie whispered, “Yes, it sure was.”
I left Joe in a recliner at his apartment, and Bobbie in bed at the nursing home, kissed them both and said I’d be back the next day. Then I drove to the lake, singing a song of thanks to Cousin Sara and her Bear Man and to God and all His angels for an unforgettable day.
Our family was together. Joe’s Tigers won. And best of all, my sister got to be Queen for a Day.
Sharon Randall is the author of “The World and Then Some.” She can be reached at P.O. Box 922, Carmel Valley CA 93924 or www.sharonrandall.com.