Wednesday, September 13, 2006

My Sister Frances

On a day like today…gloomy, overcast and getting dark earlier…my sister would put on a pot of coffee about four in the afternoon. A “pick-me-up” she called it. And during that last year of her life when I lived with her in the apartment on Funston in San Francisco, we liked that time to transition from the day to suppertime. If the fog was swirling around Sutro Tower, we might pull the drapes and draw in to ourselves. We did our needlepoint, read our books, listened to music. I know we watched TV programs later in the evening, but from this great distance I can’t remember any of the shows.

Today the wind came up just before I took the dogs out and tempted me back to the old habit. I put on a pot of coffee before I left, and when I came home I was greeted by the wonderful aroma. It was strangely comforting and made me think of my big sister. I don’t have a pot with a timer anymore. Back then (the early 80s) we could fix the pot and it would turn itself on just before we planned to return home.

But in those last days, we didn’t go anywhere. Or she didn’t. I ran all the errands…to Park & Shop, to the Needlepoint Store, to the Pharmacy on Irving, to the Five & Dime. It was nice to know that when I returned, with all my packages and bundles, she would have a pot of coffee waiting. How many cups did we share during that time?

On a day like today…with a San Francisco feeling about it…I miss my sister. I am older now than she was then. She has been gone twenty-two years, but my memory of her is strong, and sometimes I feel her presence like I do today. My sister Frances.


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