Neither Carolyn nor I had to work that Saturday. In true sister fashion, when I needed a summer job between my junior and senior year of high school, she helped me land one at the same place she had been working for the past year, Sharpe Photography in Provo UT. Our hours were blessedly normal especially for a high school girl like myself, eight to five Monday through Friday with an hour off for lunch.
The Friday before the accident, we had gone to Arby’s for lunch, the two of us in her car with no air conditioning. We pulled up to the drive-thru to order while Bob Marley’s “Buffalo Soldiers” blared on the radio and the heat of late August radiated through the floorboards. I don’t remember what exactly we ordered, but I remember we both got turnovers. She got apple and I got cherry.
Ever since that day, I can’t eat one of those without thinking of her, belting out Bob at the top of her lungs as we cruised along University Avenue, “If you know your history, then you would know where you are coming from, Then you wouldn’t have to ask me, Who the ‘eck do I think I am.”
We went inside the studio to eat lunch and talk. It started out as just sister talk and banter about boys and college starting the next Monday, nothing out of the ordinary. For some reason towards the end of the turnover, she grew serious and rather still. This was terribly unlike her – she was always moving, like a flashing sliver of light. I think this is why her next question made such an impression on me.
“Munna, do you think it is weird that Mom has twelve kids and not one of us has ever had a major injury or illness? I mean, no one has even broken a bone yet!”
I told her I thought it was actually kind of cool and then she asked, “So who do you think will be the first of us to die? I am pretty sure it will be me and when I die, I want Stairway to Heaven (by Led Zeppelin) played at my funeral.”
We laughed and went back to work.
She came up front at about 4:30 to tell me she was headed out a bit early to go camping with some friends and that she would see me on Monday. She left, trailing more Bob behind her as she exited the front door, letting it slam behind her, “Fighting on arrival, fighting for survival.”
That pretty much sums her up, now that I think about it.
Looking up from the paperwork in front of me, I watched her walk in front of the long plate glass windows at the front of the reception area, her blond hair swinging and flashing in the summer sun as she sang to the passing cars.
She turned the corner and then she was gone.