Thursday, July 21, 2016

My Sister

My Sister Marlene Emelia Hodges Callis

Marlene and Renee'

I lost my sister a couple years back.  She went to be with our family in heaven.  God opened the doors and welcomed  her into His loving arms.  I am sure they gathered together Saturday night and enjoyed each other's company.  I hope Daddy can hear better now so he could take in all the wonderful conversation between the family.  It had to be a great time.

Over the years being a younger sibling I heard stories of Marlene growing up without me.  They lived for a time in Norfolk in what would be called a family compound on 21st Street in Norfolk, Va, consisting of our grand parents Hudgins, Uncle Willis, Aunt Hazel, Uncle Elmer, Aunt Louise, Jimmy, Dean, Marlene, Momma and Daddy and great grandpa.  They were a close knit group.  Jimmy and Marlene were older than Dean by a few years and they played together sometimes getting into mischief.  Jimmy remembers them getting away from their Mom's and riding their trikes to the rail yard and sitting between the trains and counting cars.  Then they would go to the local restaurant/bar and ride their trikes around the tables in a race.  The one who won would get an ice cream cone............well most times they'd get caught.  As they were escorted home by their Mom's Jimmy would get a wooping all the way home and Marlene would hear "wait until your Daddy gets home.".  Well just as soon as they got home and Momma got doing something else Marlene would sneak back and return with that ice cream cone..........taunting Jimmy.

When they bought the Old Hotel on Gwynn's Island we sometimes lived there full time or rented close to where Daddy worked visiting the Hotel on weekend and holidays.  Before I was born they lived there full time.  Moma always told the story of Marlene and Wayne Presgrave going on a joy ride.  Wayne was the grandson of Poppa Sam Brownley who lived across the road.  Wayne and his family visited from D. C. from time to time. One day Earlene, Wayne's Mom and Moma looked out the kitchen window to see a car go by with a little head poking over the top of the wheel.  It was you guess it, Wayne and Marlene.  They were too small to run the car alone so one was working the petals and one the wheel.  They proceeded across the yard with Earlene and Moma running behind until they reached the small ditch separating the yard from the field.

Daddy told the story of the kittens born in the barn.  Marlene would play with them for hours.  This day Daddy watched as she pick up each one and dunked them head first into the rain barrel then sat them on the ground.  He watched enough and creaped up behind her, picked her up by her feet and dunked her head first into the barrel and sat her on the ground walking back to what he was doing. The kittens never got dunked again.

I remember living in Portsmouth, Virginia as a small child first in Williams Court and then in Craddock.  Williams Court was a development of townhouse style apartments filled with middle class working families.  By no way did the term Townhouse apply to today's standards but it was a nice place to live.  There were always plenty of kids, all ages to play with.  Moma had great friends that stopped over daily for coffee.  Summer fun included picnics and time at the pool. There are pictures of Moma, Marlene and I enjoying these activities. Of course come summer we were right back on Gwynn's Island for as much time as we could spend.  When I was in first grade and Marlene entering High School we moved to Craddock, a planned community which had it's own town center complete with grocery, drug store and restaurants.  We rented and lived beside Miss Mary Sawyer.  Miss Mary's granddaughter Mary Lou lived with her and she an Marlene became instant friends.  I got to share in that friendship days when they would take me to get a treat at the fountain in the drug store.  It was fun.

My sister, must have aspired to be a scientist because she was always wanted to do strange experiments on our animals.  Topper, our yellow Parakeet, who she hated was on of those specimens. Seems one of her teachers told her you could freeze and animal, thaw it and it'd come back to life.  So Topper to her was the perfect candidate.  Thanks to Moma he was saved but my two gold fish were not.  Needless to say after the thaw they were as dead as any fish in the local seafood market sitting on ice waiting to be sold.  No more experiments.

In my second grade we moved back to Gwynn's Island full time again until Marlene graduated from Mathews High.  It was a hoot when her friends would visit.  The girls often had Pajama Parties, a la, Grease.  They'd take over the upstairs apartment in the Old Hotel.  Music from the Victrola would blast through the walls with the 45's spinning.  Food cooked, hair done, nails beautified they had fun.  I'd always try to sneak up there to share in the cuteness but soon I'd be brought back down stairs by Moma.  Sometimes they'd hid me so I could stay longer.

Marlene had many friends.  Her best was friend Betty Jo Mitchem. They hung around together for years.  What one didn't think of the other did.  Stories of smoking, skipping school and other teenage fun abounded.  They were a hoot.  Sometimes to keep me quiet they'd carry me along to insure Moma didn't hear about it.

Marlene met Roland Callis and I think it was love at first sight.  They dated and became engaged and married soon after she graduated from high school.  For one of his birthday gifts Marlene picked peaches at White's Orchard in Middlesex.  I remember going with Moma to pick her up from work with her scratching on the way home from the itchy peach fuzz.  He got the watch but I don't think she picked anymore peaches.

They day she got married, she dressed im the room at the top of the stairs.  I after getting my dress on went up to peak, well the tears started and didn't stop.  I think I cried all day.  Don't know why but I guess at 11 I thought I'd never see her again.

Roland was in the Coast Guard and they moved to Norfolk there he was stationed.  They had a sweet little apartment and I visited from time to time.  Her friend Betty Jo lived with them for a while working at local drive in.  A year after they were married their first child Lisa Michelle was born.  A perfect little baby with 10 finger and 10 toes, I counted. Most of their duty stations was in and around the Tidewater area so we got to see a lot of them and Lisa.  David came next.  The night he was born Roland had just come in off a lengthy cruise and they decided to spend the weekend on Gwynn's Island, David had other ideas.  In the middle of the night we get the call she was in labor and meet them at Norfolk General Hospital.  So Moma and I went there to meet them.  We were renting in Va. Beach then near Daddy's work.  We got to the hospital no Marlene, Roland or Lisa.  Waited and waited, they didn't show up.  Finally we get a frantic call they were at Lee Memorial, her doctor was delivering there and they had been diverted.  When we got there poor Roland was standing there holding a screaming child, Lisa who hadn't seen her Daddy for a long while and didn't really know him, especially with his beard.  With child in toe, we returned home to await the birth announcement of David Wade Callis.  Another cutie.

Not long after that they got stationed in Hawaii.  The day they packed up that Falcon to drive across country was one sad day for our family.  Once again I cried my eyes out.  They drove across country and took a ship to Hawaii.  Quite the experience with two small kids.  Their time there was full of getting to know the culture, watching the kids grow and getting the red clay out of their cloths!!!  Moma and Daddy along with Aunte Teenie visited them and enjoyed ever minute.

Marlene and the kids came home for a visit from Hawaii.  It was a long flight with two small kids.  Moma and Daddy had to meet her in North Carolina. When they arrived to pick them up they found a exhausted Marlene holding Lisa's hand, with a suitcase and a man following caring David.  She had negotiated the airports alone without a stroller.  Finally when they landed a kind man noticed how tired she was and offered to help.

We were still living in the Old Hotel then and it was so good having them home.  David and Lisa loved spending time playing on the porch and messing with the ponies.  Marlene really enjoyed being home with us also seeing friends and family.  While they were there we had a terrible tragedy happen.  Lightening struck our house.  I was reading to the kids, Marlene was finishing up supper dishes when I smelled smoke.  Low and behold it was billowing out of the 3rd floor eves.  Marlene, who by that time was finished the dishes and brushing her teeth, scooped the kids and the dog up and headed to Bunk Gay's to report the fire.  In her rush she dropped her toothbrush on the step leading to the drive.  By morning, the hours was gone.  The firefighters and neighbors did their best to say as much of our personal items as they could. Marlene lost a lot of stuff including her movie camera and kids toys.  It was devastating. Until she returned to Hawaii we were scattered across Gwynn's Island finding places to lay our head.  I felt so sorry for she and the kids.  What a thing to have to leave behind.

When they came back from Hawaii, Marlene had negotiated a good deal on a new car.  A beautiful Dark Blue Pontiac Grand Prix.  She could stretch a dollar a long way.  I think she learned that from Moma but the two of them couldn't resist a sale.  Anyway, they left the Ford Falcon at Moma's and I learned to drive by driving that around and around our house.  Might I say new house we built after the fire.  It soon had a track around it.  Moma didn't mind because she knew where I was.

Wasn't long before they had another move. Just like champs they'd pack their stuff and go.  Getting to know new towns and schools didn't seem to bother Marlene she took it in stride. As I got older it was fun visiting them at their different duty stations.  I remember my trip to Seattle where I ended up staying a month due to flight cancellations.  We visited the city and the mountains.  My first experience of driving a straight shift car on the hills was there taking the kids to school. We'd go to A&W Root Beer and get the best Root Beer and shrimp, go to the docks and get crab legs and cook for dinner.

After all their travels Roland and Marlene settled on Gwynn's Island, Mathews, Va.  They built a beautiful brick home over looking Milford haven with views of the bay.  Their children graduated from Mathews High as they did.  Marlene enjoyed opening her home up to gatherings for her friends and family as well as the kids friends.  Her home was beautifully decorated always with the aroma of some good cooking.

Lisa married Craig Lewis and they set up roots in Mathews.  After a while they decided to adopt.  Marlene was so excited.  She had enjoyed being with my kids Beth and Jay when they were born but now finally a grand child or her own.  Malia was adopted from Guatemala.  Lisa, Craig, Marlene and Roland went down to finalize the adoption and bring her home.  The night we met them at the plane to see their pride and happiness watching that sweet thing walk down the hall was overwhelming.  Passengers passing by saying how cute she was.  It was a bitter sweet time because just before they left Daddy had a massive stroke and died just before they came home. Everyone got to meet Malia at Daddy's funeral.  A couple years later when Luke arrived from Guatemala, their family was complete.Those children brought much joy to Marlene and Roland. When David married Carla, Marlene loved her daughter Cory as her own.  It was so neat watching her grow up in our family and seeing how much she was loved by Marlene and Roland. Cory's father was a cousin of ours and it's so funny out of all our children and grandchildren, she looks the most like our Grand Mother, Eunice Bell Hudgins. Marlene had a picture of her as a young woman and it looks just like Cory.

Moma and Daddy enjoyed having their grand kids close, too.  When we married and moved back to Mathews, the gang was "all here"!  Beth and Jay enjoyed times with Marlene and Roland.  They'd spend the night and eat Cheerios with Uncle "Loland".  Happy and sad memories of times together in good and bad.  We weathered my Dad's stroke, Moma's death and caring for Daddy after she was gone.  We pondered the nursing home situation for him and decided it was best for all after years of taking care of him at home.  We sold the house and divided furniture with the grace our Moma had taught us.  We did our best for Daddy and I was there when he died, telling Marlene to go get her grand daughter. We tried.  But try as you may things sometimes fall apart as our relationship did close to her end.  Sad but the hands of time had worn tired.  Old wounds opened and memories clouded by sickness made things difficult to handle.  Not a day went by after the last encounter that I didn't think about she and her family.  Wanting to reach out, fearing to.

At her passing our family had a healing.  I know it made her feel good to look down from Heaven and see so.  In her memory and the memory of our parents and loved ones we are a tight knit family today.  We will always hold the good memories of our past close to our heart.  We hope to have learned by our mistakes and make the path smooth for those who come behind us.

Love you Sis.  Didn't get to say Good-bye but you are here with me and I know I was loved.

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