As some of you may know, my little sister Anneliese Bitter Wood (known as Annee, pronounced Ah-knee) passed away two years ago today from liver cancer. As November 8th approached, I've wondered what to do.
You see I don't want to forget her, nor do I want to let the day pass by without thinking of her, speaking of her, or remembering her. But how to do so? What's appropriate? And so for months I've pondered what to do, and finally two days ago I realized what I want this day to be, a day of remembrance, of celebration, of making note of what she did and who she is. A positive remembrance of her life, from those of us who love her.
So without further ado, I'll commence.
I remember Annee loved bananas. As a little girl, she downed them like they were water and she was a sponge. She was strong and stocky, and had biceps of steel. We used to hang her from the fireplace mantel to entertain ourselves and unsuspecting guests and friends.
She would dress up as wonder woman all the time, and wore the Halloween costume year round until she couldn't fit in it anymore.
I'll post a photo here of her and her wonder woman costume later tonight.
She wanted to be a percussionist in high school, but in 7th grade she had to start on a wind instrument first, so she played the trombone like Grandma Bitter. The next year she transferred over to the drums and played until she was in high school. She loved the drum core and had a blast.
She played soccer and was good at it. As a freshman in high school she made the varsity team and played for a few years. In the off seasons, she played tennis and softball. Needless to say, in high school, quads of steel joined her biceps, and her stocky frame became slim.
She took photography in high school and was on the year book staff. She fell in love with the art of taking photos and was the official family photographer.
She took German instead of French like me...I'm still not quite sure what to think of this. I must not have brain-washed her as successfully as I did Michael boy and Natter-B.
After we'd go to movies, she never ceased to amaze me when she'd start quoting all the funny lines as we'd walked out of the theater. She was a funny girl. Her favorite quotes came from The Three Amigos and episodes of Brach. And of course I can’t let this paragraph end without mentioning the scene she used to act out from Star Wars that never ceased to make me laugh. "Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, You're My Only Hope." We spent an enjoyable afternoon once with her dressed up as Princess Leia, dishtowel draped around her for a skirt, hair wrapped up in buns, and trash can on her (which I can’t possibly remember what she did with).
She was often like that, dressing up in character before descending on us unannounced in full character as she quoted from her favorite movies. Oh she was a funny girl!
Annee was popular all throughout school, not because she was “rich” (we were poor) or was "cool", but because she genuinely cared about people and was a happy-fun person to be around. She stayed close to friends she had from elementary school on up through college because the relationships she formed were genuine and people knew it.
She fell in love and married a guy that was perfect for her in every way, even though he wasn't her "type". At first they were just acquaintances, but friendship grew to admiration, which in turn developed into a deep abiding love, and respect for the quiet gentle man who won her heart. Theirs was a happy marriage, one built on respect and love for each other, their disagreements were just that, disagreements. Arguments were tame and thoughtful.
Something she used to say about marriage was, "Start as you mean to go on." That you build patterns even in the beginning stages of a relationship, and that it's easier to uproot a pattern or path and re-lay it than to combat years of misunderstandings, bad patterns, and miscommunication.
Annee delighted in finding a steal on the bargain racks, and was crafty and artsy, but in an elegant and hip way.
She was smart. She earned fabulous grades in school (Summa Cum Laude in High School and Magna Cum Laude in college), received her Associates in 1 1/2 years, and her bachelor's in 1 1/2. Annee and I graduated with our bachelor's at the same time (despite a four year age gap). Two years later, she received a Master's in Social Work, and a couple days before graduation gave birth to her darling little girl Alli.
Two months later she was diagnosed with stage four liver cancer. No, she never drank alcohol. Yes, 90 year olds usually get this disease. She was 22.
She was always nice to me, and I knew that no matter how silly or stupid my problems were, she was there to listen. She genuinely cared, as was part of her charm.
She looked forward to being a mother, and absolutely loved her little girl Alli during the first two years of Alli’s life. Annee and her husband called Alli their little angel, because she was a sweet-tempered girl, which was a tremendous blessing as Annee struggled through bouts of chemo, pain, and sleepless nights.
She was a woman of faith, who was an example of patience as she fought to the end. She loved our Father in Heaven and would often turn to the scriptures and to Him in prayer seeking comfort and peace.
I know she still lives and watches down on us.
For those of you who knew Annee, what do you remember about her?