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I always loved Christmas.  Not the stuff.  Not the commercialism.  I loved the tree, the lights, the candles, the family, the friends, the smiles, the warmth of a cozy fire, even in Florida.  

I loved the songs and the little faces as they light up on Christmas morning.  I loved it all.
I love my homemade orange sherbet punch and ham.   I got through some mighty tough times with glowing faces and the spirit of Christmas.   Christmas has been my friend for as long as I can remember.  It has never disappeared and abandoned me.  I feel it has this year.  Christmas 1975 was tough and I did a diary on it last year.  It surrounded the goodness of my baby sister three years younger than me who went through an ice storm from 400 miles to see that my little boy had his Santa Claus that was locked up in my trunk on a cold Christmas Eve.  It is my favorite Christmas story in the whole world.  I shared it with you guys last year and it was my first spotlight story, I think. hard candy christmas  1975 diary -2011  
  I shared the goodness of my baby sister who always remembers to do good for her fellow man.  She never loses her faith or her way of expressing love.  I
had all of those same good feeling in spite of a rough year this year ...up until Sunday.
Sunday, everything changed.

I have had a troubling 2012.   My husband has had two heart attacks.  My ex husband died in September and he was the father of my only biological son and a first love.  I have lost five friends and many schoolmates...some of them Vietnam Vets or caretakers of Vietnam veterans.  

I had all of that mess on July and thank God for this community and Just Bob who wishes to remain in the shadows but Bob you know what going to South Carolina meant to me to rescue my husband who was in the middle of a ptsd psych trauma over the 4th and there are really too many to thank but I want to do so now.

I have had to deal with unbelievable stress regarding family, friends, vets, and matters of the heart and pocketbook including light bills and water bills out the roof because of a faulty water heater in November.  There were some highlights in the year with the election of the president.  There were highlights when some vets got their just compensation and pension after waiting years.  There were smiles and highlights all around every time I got word, "Thanks", we got that claim through".

 Thanks Arkieboy for the lovely Bamboo plant.   Thanks DaNang for our long talks..I hope there are more to come and llbear for always being here for me as he was Sunday night when I just broke down and called over my Christmas spirit disappearing.
Thanks Nurse Kelley and Aji and Navajo for always lifting my spirits.  So many of you do that I just can't name you all.  Glorificus and Swamyankee call as does Kelley.  Testvet always makes me smile and again I say, normally llbear has me in stitches.
It does seem I am a hard egg to crack right now though.

My younger sister has never been as fortunate as me IMO with love, or even making a way.  She had seizures as a child and then it just went away when she was 9.  We always shared our bedroom growing up.  I am so close to her that I feel she is a part of everything I do.
She has had some terrible valleys in her life and very few mountains.  In the year 2000 she got the dreaded phone call that her only child, a beautiful young mother of 27 had been killed by a drunk driver.  She was just coming out of an abusive relationship and had two prior to that one.   Physical and emotional.   My Mother was very ill, here in Florida and she took care of Mama for years until Mother passed in 2004.   She then turned her attention to her pooties and other animals.

 Jack and I love her so very much as she didn't ever want anything but a break.   She never ever loses faith in her fellow man.  She believes so strongly, she shames me.  She never had a decent mate to care for her.  She never worked easy or for much money.  She always works hard in factories, or waitress, or staying with the elderly or mopping floors and for very little money.   I help her as much as possible.  I always have, when I could.  I remember when her daughter was only 5 she was married to a loser who got her little girl a cabbage patch doll and couldn't buy clothes for it but set up her Christmas next to my other sister's children who is a staunch republican and not poor at all, whose children had plenty and she cried as she was visiting from Mississippi.  Her loser  husband bought for his children and not her daughter.  I remember my late former ex husband and me running all over town on a Sunday trying to find more presents for the little one.   My other sister should have shared.  I didn't know but tried to make things more even after I heard that  my little niece had said, " Was I bad Mommy"  Santa didn't get me very much this year.   My baby sister cried. My Mother gave her 100.00 back then in the late 70's after she saw what the young one had compared to the other grandchildren.  My Mother wrung my eldest sister over the coals over that episode.    My younger sister keeps way too much to herself.  She never wants to bother anyone.    

After her daughter died, and she nearly lost her mind, she concentrated on Mother and when Mama died 8 years ago, she put all of her attention in her animals and remembering birthdays and Veterans Day and every holiday you can imagine with little cards she makes or walks to the drug store to pick up a card.  She then walks to the post office for stamps and she covers the envelopes in pootie stickers.  She has little glittery bear hugs and I love you written twenty times in the cards.  She will sing at the Nursing homes on sundays or special holidays and gives her time at the Food bank and has for over 14 years.  She helped raise two orphan grandchildren with autism and diabetes  with no help from her son in law who took the social security as she tried to raise them.   They are about grown now and back in Ga with their Dad.  She didn't have a car and she never complained.  

When Christmas rolls around, she wraps up things from her belongings and gives them as gifts as we cherish them more than anything.  ANYTHING.  When I did the diaries on the propane for Pine Ridge last week, again, my younger sister was on my mind because she always worked and scraped to get some propane up.  Sometimes Jack and me filled her tank but she always paid forward and helped in other ways.  She didn't need it anymore when she moved into her place that is all electric.  The place actually belongs to my older sister and that is where Mama lived up until she died.  
My older sister is in Ga taking care of my Dad who has Alzheimer's and will be 90 in January.   She is a widow now but tied up with Daddy and her own children.  I moved to Florida 2 years ago and even only 65 miles from my baby sister, I had to make do with phone calls as she was always working or trying to care for those motherless grandchildren who needed her attention.  They went back to Ga with their Dad and she was back tending to her animals and the old routine.  

I got a phone call from her three weeks ago saying she had met the most wonderful man.   He was taking her to dinner and making her very happy.  I was thrilled to hear that things were finally...finally going her way.   She bragged and bragged about how he was helping her clean the laundromat...a second job she had gotten.  She had met him while sitting with his elderly aunt.She said, " He is going to help me find a car".  I was so glad and told her I couldn't wait to meet this new love in her life.  She told me they had been going together for about two months.   I kept asking when were we going to get to meet this fellow.  I scolded her for not ever being available for a visit from me, either me at her house or her at mine.  She promised to come last Sunday but cancelled at the last minute.  Jack reminded her that it had been too long and we wanted to see her.  She had sent him a CD and a card on Veterans Day and called him and he never forgets about her as she is just that kind of person.  She remembers everyone.    I had gone to take my little girl to the Christmas pageant of puppets practice when my phone rang.

  I really had the Christmas spirit.  I had put up my tree.
The children help me decorate.  I put a few things on layaway at Kmart and was checking my balance and making plans for mine and Jack's 23rd Christmas.  Our anniversary is the 12th of December.   I was trying to figure out a small gift for him as we had been through so much this past year and I am thankful that he is alive and with me.   It was my sister informing me she was in Ocala and we would finally get to meet her boyfriend..soon to be fiance I felt.   I was like a kid again.  I felt the Big sister act coming on me.  I had to give this fellow the once over.  I am finally going to see my baby sister whom I love like one of my kids.  I rushed into the house and my 17 year old was running the vacuum.  Everyone loves Diane.  

I see a nice van pull into the driveway as we are all out there to greet good news and my sister.   She steps from the van and has John Lennon sunglasses on.  I think to myself,  I don't believe I have ever seen her in shades.  Then as she steps from the vehicle I know immediately something is very wrong with my sister.   She had very short hair, and maybe weighed 95 lbs soaking wet.   I said without ever saying, "Hi girlie".   I said without thinking, "Take off those glasses so I can see you and why are you so thin".  Her boyfriend, I want to add is wonderful.  He really is.   He dropped his head.  The elderly aunt was with them and had dropped her head as well.  She was in a wheelchair and my girls were helping her out of the van.

 My sister hugged me and Jack and hugged and kissed the kids as I noticed every wrinkle, every dark circle, every bag under the eyes, the strained walk. I noticed.  The smile had disappeared from my face.   I had thought at first, the worst, that maybe the fellow was not all that she claimed until I saw all of her.   She  grabbed me by the hand and said, " We need to talk".   We walked into the bedroom and she said, " I don't want you to get too upset but I have cancer."  "I wanted to tell you because you had cervical cancer in 81 and survived and we are the closest and she told me our older sister would just come unglued.   I held my composure as she told me all the things she was going through.  She had been having the symptoms for over a year but due to Scott and lack of insurance just brushed it off.  She couldn't brush it off very long after she met this nice fellow.  I think he cares too much.  He got her to the Health Dept and they found in their limited abilities of some of the many things going wrong.  They did confirm she was stage 3 cancer. She has a tumor, large one, female organs and difficulty breathing.   They advised she get to a hospital right away but of course, that has not happened in Scott world.   Shands has put her on the back burner due to no insurance and why she doesn't get medicaid is beyond me.

  Her man friend advised us that he was going to be here through thick and thing.  He loved her.  I call her every day and everyday, the story is the same.." We will fit you in with an  OBGYN asap.  I know there is more she is not telling me but I am standing back waiting on this fellow whom she adores who confirmed, things are very very bad.  

I had to tell my older sister in Georgia.  She doesn't understand our governor down here and no ObamaCare and now limited Medicaid.  She doesn't get it .  She was pro Romney and I let her have it about her so called Republican tea party political leanings because when it hits home it really impacts.  My sister in Ga.  agreed.   "Well what kind of monster is he?"  I said, "The same kind you think you wanted for president".  They are evil.  The whole bunch.   Diane is dying and do you think this tea party governor cares?"   Now do you see why health insurance for all is so important?  Do you now get it...From this liberal?  Do you get it?  I burst into tears.   She was crying and we know we must remain strong for our younger sister.

  She is special.  I have always dedicated Wind beneath my wings to her.  I was the one with the band in the 60's.  The one to meet the president.  The one who went to Nashville.   But she is my hero.

   She still has her faith.  She is still smiling through her dimly lit eyes of pain and suffering.   She is still standing and I feel like I have lost some of the wind beneath my wings.  I do not know how she has managed to go through all the loss, all the death, all the abuse and when she finally meets someone who adores her and loves her, "THIS HAS TO BE THEIR FUTURE"   Maybe it doesn't.  my son said, " Before, she had nothing to fight for and now she does, never underestimate the  power of the human spirit.

I look at my tree and it does not feel like Christmas.   She is suffering in so many ways.  She finally has someone (I hope) who will stand by her.   He says he wants to marry her.   I am conflicted on those words.  He hasn't seen how bad it can get yet.
I don't understand.   My faith has wavered and is taking a beating.  It seems the Grinch is always trying to steal my Christmas joy.  

 My sister never smoked a cigarette a day in her life.  She only took herbs for health.  She walked.  I don't understand.  No drugs.  She lived as healthy as she could under her poverty circumstances.  I don't understand.  I had all the hard Christmases flood my mind.  I thought of 2010 when my husband's first born ended his life, our daughter nearly dying in childbirth, I thought of how every holiday I get excited about especially Christmas, something comes along and just kicks me in the gut.  No it is not about me.   It is about the why's and I don't understand.

  I thought about the 4th but again my mind flew back to Christmas and how my son's future wife was murdered a month before Christmas in 04.  I don't understand.   I loved this holiday.   I don't care about things.  Want to know  the things I care about?  It is love and kindness  and the love of my friends and family and many people with lots of monetary means cares only about those things and how they want more.  I just want my family together and peace and love.
People are disappearing out of my life so quickly and they are not old.  We are grateful that we are here and we hope things work out for my sister with her new love for whatever time they have as none of us really know how much we have.   I could go before her but I know this Christmas winding up from this year has punched me hard.  

I could not pick up presents and start putting things aside for her but I know this is life for many Floridians.  I know tearing down the tree would make her miserable.   I know that would not be fair to the kids.    I have to smile and pretend all is well but it isn't and my kids know it and Jack knows it and it hurts.   Her boyfriend says he is taking care of her and will but I know it is my responsibility right now to help take care of her.  She doesn't really know him but I don't dare interfere.  This could be her last shot at some sort of happiness. I just want to know....Christmas ,,where are you?   I plan on talking to some doctors and the hospital and get the straight of everything before I head to Tallahassee or to a senator.   I have had issue with Scott for sometime.. Now it is personal.  AGAIN.

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