I grew up in a family of 5 kids – 4 girls and one boy. When you grow up in a family of that size you are bound to get a variety of personalities and interests. I was the quiet, reserved, and (perhaps) nerdy sister. My nose was often stuck in a book and, let’s just say, I wasn’t the trendiest of teenagers. One of my sisters, DeLaine, was in some ways my opposite. She was older, beautiful and definitely trendy. She was bold and definitely not reserved. She was just a fun and free spirited person. She wore her emotions on her sleeve and was not afraid to speak her mind. She loved to “rock out” to music. My childhood, thanks to DeLaine, was filled with Def Leppard and Joe Elliott.
Today is her 43rd birthday and her wedding anniversary. She died August 14, 2011, and it is still hard to believe that she is gone. DeLaine was the type of person that filled up a room with warmth and laughter and had a megawatt smile. She was a fantastic mother who deeply loved her two sons and her husband. Nothing was more important to her than her boys. She was a loving daughter and sister. She was creative and artistic. She could find the happiness in almost any situation. She had overcome a lot in her life – bad relationships and mental illness. But, none of that stopped her from being the fun loving person that everyone knew and cared about.
I miss her very much and looking back I can appreciate what it meant to have her as a sister. When I was a freshman in high school, DeLaine moved back home for a bit. Sometimes late at night she and I would go the Waffle House. We would hang out and talk. Drink coffee and eat grits and raisin toast. She would laugh at my dumb jokes and listen to my stories about being a freshman. It made me feel special and cool.
To this day – I am still more quiet and reserved than my siblings. And, that’s okay because that really is who I am. But, loving and knowing DeLaine taught me a lot about just living life – being happy and being free. It’s okay to be silly sometimes and it is okay to rock out. After DeLaine died one of my other sisters helped to organize a benefit with some of the local bands that DeLaine followed. I’m pretty sure that is the only time that my family ever saw me standing by a stage, jumping up down, and rocking out. It might be the only time that they see me that way! But, it seemed like a fitting tribute for DeLaine. I can’t help but to feel that she is gone too soon – that she had more life to live. But, I take comfort in knowing that she lived her life to the fullest extent possible with humor, kindness, and a lot of love.