Her Favorite Song Was “My Way”

In less than six months, I’ve lost both of my sisters. On July 1, 2022, my sister Shirley passed. And now, my sister Charlotte.

Shirley (18) on the left, Charlotte (19) on the right. September 1964. Photo property of Marie A Bailey.

Charlotte passed away on November 25, 2022. In the last few weeks, she went from being full of energy and living independently to needing oxygen 24/7 and home health services. Instead of stabilizing, her breathing got worse, and then she got pneumonia. The last time I talked to her, two days before she died, she could barely talk.

Although Charlotte lived in Florida and I saw her more than I saw Shirley, I didn’t know her as well. She was 13 years older than me and very private, at least with me.

I do know that she was resourceful, doing everything from working as a health aide at a nursing home to taking care of laboratory mice for a research team. I know she loved to sing. I know her favorite song was “My Way,” which was how she lived her life.

She thought she was invincible. Occasionally a health problem would push her down, but she’d get right back up, dust herself off, and carry on as if nothing had happened. If you asked her how she was doing, she’d respond, “I’m fine. Why wouldn’t I be?”

I had come to believe she was invincible until the phone call that told me she no longer was.

Circa 1980. Marie (me) on the left, Charlotte on the right.

My mother and Charlotte were very close, and so my mom is devastated … again. Where is the joy in old age when it means watching your children die?

Comments are closed. I’m going to crawl under a rock and hibernate until the holidays are over. See you all on the other side. And, please, never forget to say “I love you.”