And We All Shine On!

Little Terry with my Grandmother, mother, Grandfather I never met and my uncle
I never planned on writing individual pages about my siblings or family members, but at points it just needs to happen.  I was always hesitant to write about my big sis Terry because she is very private and doesn't like her images shared on social media, so I wasn't sure if this would be considered a slight invasion.  However, she was a huge part of my childhood and there is so much to say that I might not be capable of holding it in. In order to tell my story, I'd be negligent not to honor the kind folks that helped mold me, guide me, teach me and in ways so numerous that I continue to recall them each day, well into my late 50's.  Siblings are like no other relationship you'll ever have and each one is unique and individually tailored to you.  I was thrilled to be in a large family because what you learn from each other is invaluable.

My sister Terry, Theresa, is the middle child, and very much an individual.  I would say unapologetically outspoken, a trait I knew I didn't carry but always admired.   She's 8 years my senior but somehow we managed to be what I considered great friends and hung out as actual buddies in my late teens.  Earlier on, she babysat my sister Rachel and I on many weekend nights when my mom and dad were still in party mode and used to fly off to the Mexican dance halls in their fancy clothes.   Terry got roped into watching us instead of going and doing fun teenager things.  I'm sure she resented it and therefore ran a very tight ship.  We often got into trouble right away on those nights and were subject to slightly bizarre punishments like facing walls for what felt like hours or staying face down in the cushions of the sofa, until she felt we learned our lesson. This became a game because we were goofy kids and thrilled to be around our older sis.  She could be very intimidating but I felt like we understood her and maybe even felt bad that she was stuck with us, when clearly she should be off doing awesome things, as she was apt to do.   You see she did deserve better because she really was all that, beautiful, smart, funny, outgoing and this was her time to shine.  She was also very persuasive, so even when she upset us, she managed to have us eating out of her hand by the time the folks came back even though we swore we'd tell on her each time, but never did.  We were vulnerable and easily tricked but we loved her dearly.  We wanted her to be happy.

8 years apart in the same hand-me-down sweater for school pictures

Rach said her and I always looked emaciated and sickly in these early black and white photos.  Yet to me, Terry always looked great, like she willed herself into a better family mentally.

She was a top cheerleader that won tournaments and traveled, was given trophies.  She had tons of girl friends and I knew she was capable of anything because she was smart and confident.  She had a very sweet smile and when she liked you, there was nothing better in this world.

We once took a ride in her boyfriend's car, Terry in the front seat and Rachel and I in the back.  When he hit a bump, my scrawny butt bounced straight up from the back seat and my head hit the roof of the car so hard that I needed to cry but knew it was gonna be a big bummer when I did.  I was genuinely scared.  Terry looked back and gave me a very concerned look then told him to slow down in a stern tone.  She could have embarrassed me or told me to shut up but she didn't.  I wonder why you remember certain times like this, above others.  It wasn't that eventful yet I remember that day at least once a year.  I've never truly understood why but I think it showed me something so loyal about her, even way back then, that she had a protective type of love.    
me, Rach, Mary and Terry at Rach's baby shower

She did surprising, fun things like she once gathered us together and announced we would each receive a Beatle and somehow made it very official.  I believe she stressed it was a lifetime, non-negotiable honor.  She later went on to explain that of course she was to get Paul and John, as she was the oldest never mind that she wasn't.  There was our older sister Mary Ann to consider but she was most likely too old to be bothered with such nonsense and had since moved out of the house.  I got George and Rachel was given Ringo.  There was some pleading and arguing but before we could come to our senses she quickly laid out some rules about how we are not to ogle on John or Paul and from this point on our time would be better spent centering on our own Beatle and trying to find ways to get closer to them.  I took this to heart and I think there might have been some type of homework or project that we had to complete.  Terry was can-do, and quite conclusive.  There was reasoning behind her decision, George being shy like me, made sense, she said.  I loved him secretly anyway, so I grew to understand my duties.

Rachel and I formed a group, more of an exclusive club called the Uns (pronounced Oooohns).  I was little Un and Rach, Big Un and we made Terry the leader, Shine On, because she couldn't pronounce the name quite right.  We were pretty young and I'm not sure how the name was born, but it stuck for several years and we still use it to this day with affection. 
Homemade Spaghetti dinners at Terry's 
Terry was the first adult I knew who talked to a kid as if they were a normal person, not using baby talk.  She expected you to be her equal and it helped me in ways to do just that.  As we grew, I felt I could meet her where she lived.  We even took a road trip together when I was just 17.  She drove and it was the first time that I had seen the ocean, been on a road trip or traveled as an 'adult'.  Another memory I'll never forget.  Just as I might instruct visitors to get on subways here in New York, she carefully told me how to approach the beach and waves.  How if you look down you're going to get dizzy because the sand rolls from underneath you.  To never turn your back on the water.  
Me being free at that Florida Hotel, bad perm and stolen shorts from my sister Rach pulled up over my white cotton chonies. 

Obviously there are a million memories.  She introduced me to so much music and in our youth forbid us to sing certain songs because there were nasty parts in them.  Of course we'd scour the song to try to understand what they meant.  But I would say the ones that I love the most were the times she made me feel as though we were a normal family.  She invited me to her apartments and home for dinner through the years, to go eat at restaurants alone and with friends.   I babysat her son the years before I moved out of the Fort and that gave me great purpose at a time when I was struggling to find it.  

In our way, we are a normal American family, Mexican and all.  We came together after several years past and all that we shared didn't go away, it was preserved, as if there waiting.  I mourn the time lost not being in her life, getting to see her boys grow.  We all went our own ways for lengths of time in what is called adulthood.  Thank God we all came together again now that we know the true value of our relationships.    
The siblings minus brother David at our mom's funeral

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