Thursday, November 8, 2007

Annee, things i remember about her

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?


  1. Ma-Lu that was a perfect tribute to Annee! She is a wonderful person and always thought of others before herself.

    I remember that I used to wake her up early in the mornings asking her if I could barrow a item of clothing. Hoping that in her sleepiness she would say yes, she often said yes and not because she was tired. She was just generous.

    I also remember that she would go with me to Maceys on University Pkwy. by mom's house and we would buy New York Seltzers and usually would get one Root Beer hoping that Michael wouldn't notice... hehe it was his favorite drink and I didn't want to share. We would tell him it was water but he knew better. hehehe she called them our sibling dates! She did them with Michael and I every week.

    I also remember her telling me that Pringles were cow patties so I wouldn't want any. It never worked!

    She once pretended to eat a dog biscuit hoping that I would eat one in return! That didn't work either.

    She would sit down in the Study and swap New Kids on the Block cards with Joette.

    She loved to watch Pinky and the Brain with Michael every day after school!

    I loved her funny accents that she would say as she quoted some funny lines.

    Annee is an example to me on how to enjoy life and make it the best!
    I love her!!!

  2. Thanks for getting this started Melis. And Natalie, I loved reading your post.

    I also have many fond memories of Annee. Boy was she on top of things! I remember Annee is someone who was clear about what and who she wanted to be--and then set about to accomplish it.

    She's an example of dedication and love. She set high standards for herself and then lived up to them. I know she would be mortified to be talked about like this--that's just part of her humility. She wanted everyone to know she was human and had faults too.

    She was a good listener. She also had good advice when solicited. She stood up for causes she believed in and could be quite persuasive.

    I miss her terribly and could go on and on. I also have faith that she is in a good place and that I will see her again someday.

  3. Melissa, what a beautiful tribute to your lovely sister. I never met her, but I feel like I know her now from your moving words. I am so sorry for your loss and for the little girl she left behind. It sounds like her legendary stories will be a source of comfort in her absence.

  4. A beautifully written tribute, Melissa. I'm grateful to have been able to read it and experience just a whiff of a beautiful person.

    I'm truly sorry for your loss. Remembering Annee with others who love her sounds like the perfect way to honor her memory.


  5. I love this idea of remembering things about Annee. I hope we can keep adding to it througout the YEARS. Pleas????.....

    I remember Annee rocking back and forth while she looked at herself in the mirror leaning her head this way and that, tugging at her shirt this way and that, trying to decide if the outfit was "just right" to wear for the day.

    I remember her, too, acting out Princess Laei (sp?) She'd pull her hair high on her head in a pony tail, break out the bottom of a paper cup and then string the pony tail through it to hold it up high. Then she'd say the words looking anxiously around (bending over and putting the card into the robot thingy), "You're my only hope..."

    I remember sitting in bed one night, tired, must have been reading or something, all of a sudden she appeared at my door leaning against the jam, dressed goofy of course, and started singing, "I fell pretty, oh so pretty, I feel pretty and whitty, and gaaaaaaay..."

    In middle school I remember her saying she wished she could be pretty like Natalie and funny like Jennie.

    I remember she LOVED Michael. For some reason she felt totally connected with him and loved him to pieces.

    "???, make my waist teeny weeny." (Edit that would you Meliss?)

    She loved getting Natalie the princess "doorbell" to her bedroom.

    Gotta go... Will write some more.

    Love you all, Mom

  6. OK, I'm back.

    I remember Annee always giving her "all" at the moment, whether it was paying attention to you when you were talking to her, or doing her homework, or making something, or doing yard work. She seemed to be able to focus.

    Preferred flip flops (or any sockless shoe) over socks. Wore flip flops year round (in the snow.)

    Didn't like to iron. One Sunday at church Ken Fife asked her, "Hey Annee, do you own an iron?"

    She loved inspiring quotes. She put them up on her bedroom wall, on the dresser mirror, on the bathroom mirror, on the wall up the stairwell in her college apartment, especially had them around her home and in her bedroom during her bout with cancer.

    She loved her scriptures and was thorough in marking them, and putting sticky notes of inspired thoughts she had learned in them. Also put notes from classes she took in them. She had a desire to understand and know about them and took the time to do so.

    I remember every night the bathroom light would be on and she would be in there reading her scriptures before she went to bed.

    I remember many times seeing her kneeling on her bed saying her prayers before going to sleep.

    She LOVED each sibling all through her growing up years. There were trials too, but she loved each of you.

    She loved Gracie and Oakley. What can I say here? You all have memories of her (as well as you) playing with them.

    Until later... Love, Mom (I have such a great feeling in my heart right now as I've thought about Annee and remembered her sweet soul. I feel like she is close. I feel close to all of you too. I love you and am glad that we are doing this.)

  7. Melissa...that was a beautiful tribute to your little sister. Oh how she loved and cared for you! I've been trying to publish a comment with a picture attached but the picture won't save so I'm going to put it my 'tribute' such that it is on the 'main' blog site.

  8. Annee used to play this sailor song on the piano, quite difficult, FAST tempo and LOUD. She would play it over and over and over. After hearing it every day for about one year, I suggested she look for a new piano teacher who would expand her selections. It did the trick but she soon lost her interest in piano. I always felt bad that I may have been the cause of that decision. She played that piece every time with SUCH FERVOR, including the mistake in the middle!!

    She and I used to bang out the Christmas sleigh duet on the piano and laugh the whole way through as we'd play as fast as we could. She, of course, played the written notes while I just kind of banged the keys in the general vacinity where the correct note was. I always had so much fun, and she was always willing.

    One time I picked her up from a high school soccer practice. It was a hot day and I had been waiting for her in the car with the air conditioning on full blast, vents pointed at me. She got in the car, her face was beat red and she was sweating and looked exhausted. We drove about a block and she looked at me and said, "You cool?" I redirected the vents and we laughed all the way home.

    She LOVED playing soccer and was good and fast. For two years the coach kept promising her a starting position in the next game or two, but it only happened once so she made the decision to drop soccer the following year and play tennis, which she ended up loving just as much and did well at. She always gave her choices her "all", she wanted to make every moment count.

    When she was in 4th or 5th grade, she qualified to be in the regional spelling bee. She was so excited and was an absolute delight. She sat on the stage with the rest of the kids and every time it was her turn to go to spell a word, she'd hop off her chair and go up to the mic smiling big, look at the judges with that cute little face waiting anxiously for her word. She'd spell it correctly, beam an even bigger smile and run back to her seat and wait for her next turn. I think she made it to runner up, but I can't remember. Afterwards, one of the judges told me that it was so refreshing to see someone participate in the event and have so much fun, that most of the kids were so stressed out from parent pressures and coaching they couldn't really enjoy it. The judge chuckled and said that Annee was entertainment for all of them. It was true. Annee truly enjoyed whatever she did.

    Goodbye for now. Love, Mom

  9. I went to elementary school with Anneliese. Sarah Azure, she and I would hang out together quite a bit. I remember going to your grandparents house to play board games. I moved away in the ninth grade and lost contact with her. When I moved back, I tried to regain contact with some of the friends I had memorable experiences with as a child and Anneliese was among them. I was very, very sad to hear what had happened. To this day she still pops into my mind, which is probably why I just googled her name and found this blog. I enjoyed your post, I was able to learn more about my childhood friend as she grew into a young lady. Best wishes to your family. She will never be forgotten, even by those who haven't remained close.