Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A tribute to my sister, Bootie

   I think you should know my sister, Bertha.  Bertha to some, but we call her "Bootie" from our brother Lance who as a baby, couldn't pronounce Bertha.  So Bootie it's been for as long as I can remember.
 I'm Bootie's youngest brother.  Well technically I'm her half brother, we had different daddies.  And Bootie was born near 30 years before me.  A sister, yes, but Bootie's been as much a mother to me.

  In October of 1953 all our worlds changed when mom gathered my full sister Sandy and me in her arms and told us that our daddy  died. Imagine. Mom was 50 at the time, had very little education, two little kids, and no income to speak of.   I was 7, Sandy was 8.  Bootie had her own family way off (42 miles away) in Colville.

  Hard times, yeah. But Sandy and I were lucky kids during those days because we ended up with an extra mom, Bootie.

   Aside from having a huge share in raising Sandy and me, you might ask “what else made Bootie so special?” I’ve been pondering that and lots of little things pop into my head. Maybe it’s because I have trouble thinking of big things, but it seems to me that it’s really the little experiences, the little preserved memories that add up.  And what comes to mind I think  is a good thing to pass on at this time of year.

It comes down to doing well with what you have.  Bootie invented the philosophy.

Maybe some examples will show you what I mean.   Take sammaches (some folks call them sandwiches but we prefer sammaches),   Bootie was an artist when it came to making sammaches. Just the right amount of bologna, cheese and mayo spread smooth and even across the Wonder bread.... all wrapped up like Christmas presents in wax paper, prepared to be opened later, say after a hard morning's work making firewood.   Her husband Vern would run the chainsaw all morning, making perfect cuts of perfect length (something I still can't master….. maybe its because I can't make my mouth move like Vern did while he was sawing).... Anyways, we’d stop eventually and eat those precisely wrapped sammaches while sitting on blocks of buckskin tamarack amid the smells of sawdust and bar oil and the sudden quiet in the woods. And Bootie was there. And if I didn't notice how wonderful the day was,  just a glance at her looking up into the trees and smiling was enough.

Paint by numbers.  Ever done one? Booties were perfection and I loved watching her paint. The pictures she made were even better than the ones on the box where she got them, (Fonks five and dime).  Bootie had a way of doing things just so.  Some folks look down their noses at paint by numbers.  But Bootie's paintings were worthy of framing. Amazing what she could do with so little.

  Quilts. Bootie made quilts. One or more for each of us. They’ve warmed us all over the years and now they'll be even more special because there’s a little bit of Bootie in each stitch. OH and those hand embroidered dish towels? I smile every time I find one in the drawer. You don’t get THAT at walmart.
Gardening.  Bootie always had a big patch of Peonies in bloom at Memorial day, and there was always a pickup bed load of tinfoil lined coffee cans full of those huge red blossoms for the cemetery. And roses! Holey cow you could smell them for blocks!  Bootie tended her garden the same as her house, everything spottless, everything in it's place; yet warm and welcoming.

All these things and so many more made Bootie so very special… what she did for us with what she had.  And what she did, she did with class.

Like Christmas trees.  She'd never hear suggestions about a "store bought" tree.  Each Christmas season started with the family bundling up and riding in the truck to the woods in search of the perfect tree.  And they'd always find one; a perfect tree.  Or at least Bootie made it that way with just a few well placed ornaments a few strands of tinsel,  and a string or two of the old style Christmas lights (the kind you see above, in the necklace I made for her).

 Bootie passed away a few days ago; an event we all knew was coming, but not made easier by the fact.  Thanksgiving time, a time be thankful for our bounty.  I am thankful for Bootie and the way she showed me to find such joy and beauty in humble things. 

   Bootie always encouraged my little hook making business, yet I've been pining away here for a spell. .  She'd want me to get back to it, and I will.  I promise. 



Claire said...

I am really sad to hear about your loss, Jim. Bootie was clearly one of a kind, a very special person, and you have so obviously benefited immensely from her kindness and cleverness.

Marie/Underground Crafter said...

Bootie sounds like an amazing woman. Thanks for sharing her story with us. I'm sorry for your loss but glad you have so many wonderful memories to keep her alive in your heart.

mireya said...

your sister sounds wonderful, I am so sorry for your loss but am comforted by the fact that she must have really lived and loved for the time that she was on this earth. Have a happy thanksgiving; I am glad that you have her and your family to be thankful for. Also know that so many indivduals including myself are greatful for you and your kindness.

Sandie said...

Bootie sounds like a very special sister and a really wonderful person. My sympathies on your loss.

Amy said...

Aw, Jimbo. Sorry to hear you lost your beloved sister. She sounds like a very special person.

Jimbo said...

I read about your sister Bootie yesterday and was both saddened by your loss and excited by your experiences with her. Everyone should have someone who can see the beauty in the simple things that we overlook so regularly. I lost my sister two years ago in January and the thing I remember about her most was her ability to look at simple things and see more. We grew up poor and toys were few and far between. She made doll furniture out of toothpicks and glue--really impressive doll furniture. She had been told by my parents that it would never work and would never last but it didn't stop her. We found cans and bottles and returned them for the $0.05 deposit then bought toothpicks and Elmer's glue. She made a table and chairs, two beds, a chest, a cradle--so many little pieces of furniture. We would play dolls together for hours and I still have one of those chairs almost forty years later. She taught me to look at things with a creative eye--to see the possibilities and not to listen when people told me it would never work. I hope your memories of Bootie keep her spirit alive in you and bring you comfort the way my sister's memories do.

Happy holidays,
via jimbo