Tuesday, 3 July 2012


Have you ever noticed how precious it is to share memories with family members who experienced what you did? Diane was one such sibling. When we were young, my sister and I went everywhere together. Whether it was mischief or play, we enjoyed many happy hours exploring the small city of Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta.

Then the province's education officials decided that I couldn't be educated in public school, even though I passed the first grade. I was exiled to Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and Blind in Vancouver,British Columbia, five-hundred miles from all I knew and loved. As the years passed, Diane found local friends to take my place.

As we matured, we grew apart. She had her husband and later her children to occupy her attention. I had my various adult concerns that took up my time as well. Diane moved two-hundred-and-forty miles away to a city called North Battleford, Saskatchewan while I stayed in Edmonton. We visited each other on a few occasions but she was often too busy to reminisce about our carefree childhood days.

In the spring of 2004, Diane suffered from a disease called Budd-Chiari syndrome. This rare disease caused her blood to become sticky so that it clogged her liver's exit vein. My siblings and I expected her to recover after the two operations she had performed on her but, on July the third, her internal organs shut down.

Diane's funeral and interment were held at Rabbit Lake, Saskatchewan on the fourteenth. Leaving my three house bunnies alone was a concern for me but I decided that they could survive if I gave them enough food and water. Floppy managed well enough when I did that in September of 1993. When I visited friends in Portland, Oregon for three days, he was fine when I came home.

My half sister, Jentien, generously drove me to the funeral. That was such a big help since I was several thousand dollars in debt.

While Diane's relatives and I socialized afterward, I suddenly realized the extent of my loss. The only family member who had the same set of recollections as I had was gone. Roy was too young and Linda hadn't been born until I was sent to Jericho.

I wrote about Diane in my When a Man Loves a Rabbit: Learning and Living with Bunnies and Deliverance from Jericho: Six Years in a Blind School memoirs. My upcoming How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity paperback also contains recollections of the times I visited her in North Battleford.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your sister. If I remember correctly from reading Deliverance from Jericho, she was a year or so older than you, wasn't she? My younger brother Andy and I are seven years apart, but we've always been close, although we often fought tooth and nail when we were kids. Since we lived in Tucson, Arizona, where the school for the blind was located, Andy and I weren't separated during the five and a half years of my education there.

    When we moved to Sheridan, Wyoming, Andy and I went to the same elementary school for one year. However, we each had our own friends with whom we walked to school. When we were together at the park or in other locations where there were kids who didn't know me, and they cast curious glances my way, Andy always said, "Quit staring at my sister." We still keep in touch today by phone and e-mail, although he's miles away in Jupiter, Florida.

    Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of
    We Shall Overcome
    How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver


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