|Carol and her beloved dog, Kiki|
|We got goofy at a museum|
|More fun and antics at the museum|
|The only picture I took of the two of us!|
|Carol Hail Wiles: 2016|
I did not find out that I had an older sister until I was 18 years old. I remember that day so well. My parents gathered my four brothers, my younger sister and I on the steps between our dining room and living room to tell us about my mother's daughter, Carol. You see, we were preparing for a trip to Illinois to meet the Frese side of the family for my cousin, Elaine's wedding. Carol was going to be there, so I suppose that was the reason why my parents decided that it was time to tell us. The family gathering in Illinois for Elaine's wedding was a blast-crazy busy and lots of family we had never met. It was a thrill to meet my older sister for the first time. She is 12 years older than I am.
Growing up with 4 brothers, I always bugged my mom about getting me a sister (I would ask her to bring one home when she went shopping in Honolulu). I wonder now, how that must've felt when she already had a daughter that couldn't be living with us (I'll get to that in just a bit). When I was 10 years old, my sister came along (definitely an unplanned pregnancy, but a blessing for sure). But, she was my baby sister. Because of our age difference, we would not have the chance to stay up late at night talking about boys and giggling until dawn. That is what I imagined that sisters would do-a lot of sharing and companionship and maybe even a best friends kind of thing.
My mom had Carol at a young age-she was still a teenager. When Carol's father and my mom got divorced (I think Carol might've been about 5-6 years old at that time), his parents (which would be Carol's grandparents) sought custody. Mom-being young, thought it best to not put up a fight (and she did not have the finances to fight it legally anyway), so she let her go. I know it was very hard and painful to do that. When she married dad, dad knew about Carol and throughout the years, would write the most loving letters to her. Carol told me about those letters and how much it meant to her. Dad and mom would've loved to have raised her, but that was not in the cards for them. I guess it would've been too disruptive for Carol at that point in her life.
I did not get to grow up with my older sister in the same household. But you know, blood does run thicker than water and over the years since the wedding, we would keep in touch from time to time. My mom finally got to spend time with Carol and her husband, David when she and her husband moved to Florida around 1993? They all lived together in the same house. I am glad that mom and Carol were reunited even if it was years later.
After mom passed in 1997, we got got closer in the sense of getting to know each other long distance. Usually by way of a phone calls to check in with each other. Birthday and Christmas cards. Things of that sort. We felt connected as sisters.
I got my chance to spend time with Carol when I went out to visit her in Florida in 2010. It was just the 2 of us as her husband, David had recently passed. Even though we did not grow up together, we both felt a sisterly bond immediately. It's hard to explain unless you've experienced it yourself. It was such an amazing visit that we had with each other. She was already battling leukemia but she was doing well at the time I stayed with her. I am so grateful that I grabbed that chance to see her and spend time with her. She had so much of mom's traits-even her voice sounded a lot like mom's. I finally got that chance to stay up late every night with my sister talking about anything and everything and giggling along the way.
Perhaps you might think that just because we did not grow up together and only saw each other twice in our lives that losing her would not be as painful or that the love would not be as deep. But, it is-just as much as though we did grow up together.
Aloha Oe, Carol and a hui ho-until we 'meet' again. I love you.
Carol Hail Wiles: Feb. 2, 1942 - Sept. 4, 2017