Saturday, 13 June 2009

Regarding Suzie

I was born when my sister Suzie was 5 years and 10 months old. Suzie had two older brothers and one older sister; she was the 2nd girl born and the 4th child in a family that would be comprised of 13 children.

Many of my earliest memories of Suzie are of her generosity and love and affection for all of us. Suzie was probably the original member of the family who thought of others first (she would be followed by others with that trait, but I was not one of them).

I have so many memories of Suzie from my childhood. I remember Suzie passing out in church one day and how we all had to back up and give her air.

Suzie and I had the most fun ever when we traveled. We always drove together. From the ages of 13 to 17 (my ages) my parents would pack us up in two cars and a camper and we traveled across Canada and the United States for two months. I have been in every province except Newfoundland and every state except Alaska and Hawaii. Just imagine the fun Suzie and I had driving one of the cars (this is in the early 70s), listening to music full blast and taking two of the younger kids with us. Usually if I had my way it would be Shelly.

One time we were in California and ran out of gas so we parked in a little parking lot. My Dad went on to get gas somewhere and was going to bring it back. He was gone for over four hours. Let me set the scene.

I’m reading a book on the Hell’s Angels. In the car are Suzie, Gerry, our cousin Mo, and me. I’m telling them all about what the Hell’s Angels do to people. Rev, rev, rev, we see (no shit) about 30 bikers and they are blocking the road behind us and stopping cars. They are jumping on the cars and pulling people out. Now we are shitting ourselves. Especially after the stories I told on rape and drugs and murder.

Gerry and Mo in the back are terrified. Suzie’s teeth are chattering. I’m laughing and scared shitless at the same time.

It is getting darker and we now realize that the place we were parked at is a strip joint. People keep going in and out. Now the bikers pull up and go in and out. We are slunk down in the car and all I can hear are Suzie’s teeth clicking together. I start telling her another story and she yells at me to ‘Shut the fuck up; you are scaring Gerry and Mo.’ Har har har.

I look at her to say something and I jump a mile. One of the bikers has his face pressed against her window. I just stare; she says ‘What?’ I keep staring, she turns around and sees him and becomes absolutely paralyzed. (I am laughing so hard right now.) He looks at us and then looks in the back where he sees our little brother and cousin and then walks away. I am kept on the lookout and keep telling them that I think they might be coming back. They are all in the strip joint at this time, but I thought they might come back to kill us.

Hours later our Dad comes and proceeds to tell us about the wonderful family they met that gave them gas and I think they actually stayed there and ate dinner and visited while we were in the car being scared shitless. I love it. It was so scary and fun.

Suzie was a beautiful child with white blond hair and blue eyes. I don’t think Suzie had any freckles which was practically a family trademark.

Here is more of the memory I have of when my parents went away to British Columbia. Suzie was left in charge of the house and all of us kids. There were probably still nine of us at home.

Colette was a total little bugger and would just take off and so on this particular night (like most nights) I was on her side and said she could go out. Suzie was having none of it. So it ends up being me and Colette against Suzie, Camille, and Jacquie. At one point Jacquie and Camille are trying to corner Colette and I have Suzie who is five years older then me up against a wall and I won’t let her go (Suzie is a cupcake and we all know it, she is nonviolent and won’t hurt a fly). Finally Colette escapes the house and I escape with her. Then we see Suzie and Camille driving like maniacs trying to corner us and we run into where there is construction in the back lane.

I just thought of another story of Suzie and I on our travels in that green little car. When we were in the States in some godforsaken hellholes and it was probably 120 degrees. I would take my top off in the car and we would drive and Suzie was always mortified 'Renee, put your top on.' "No." 'Renee, put your fucking top on.' "No." Now she is laughing her head off 'For Christ sake Renee, put your top on.' "Suzie you are not supposed to use God's name in vain, I'm telling Mom and Dad." har har har.

Good times. Great times really. Hardy har har. I seriously don’t know why this is so funny, but it was to me, and seriously still makes me laugh. I loved the fun and chaos we had in that house.

Suzie is giving and loving and the only person, now that my Dad is dead, that still calls me by my nickname ‘Lover’. I melt when she calls me that.

I think that Suzie slept in the bedroom downstairs with Kathy, but I’m not sure. I don’t remember her being in our room.

I should be Suzie’s favourite and she says that I am, but I doubt her sincerity. Suzie makes me laugh because she says I am an angel, when she of all people knows that I am not.

Describing Suzie I would say that she is an attractive woman and when she truly smiles her eyes sparkle. So I can always tell when she is faking it. Suzie has beautiful blue eyes and is generous, compassionate, naïve, sincere, and selfless. I wish that Suzie would care more about herself than she does for others. But I guess that is her nature. As my Mom would say, Suzie would give anyone the shirt off her back. I am happy that Suzie is my sister.

To the outside world we all grow old. But not to brothers and sisters. We know each other as we always were. We know each other’s hearts. We share private family jokes. We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys. We live outside the touch of time. ~~ Clara Ortega ~~

I love my sister and she means the world to me. Suzie thank you for the privilege.

Happy 59th Birthday Suzie. Love Renee, Wahid, Angelique, Nadalene, Nathan, and Josephine.

*artwork by Kelly Vivanco


Marie S said...

I laughed my ass off too! I love hearing about your family and all of the kids. What fun you must have had.
What fun that you all used to travel togther. My mom and dad took us on trips until I was about ten and I remember that time very fondly.
Thank you for talking about your times and reminding me of mine!
Love and huge hugs,

Marie S said...

God bless you!

Anonymous said...


I love your recollections of your childhood, they are so perfect in a perfectly unperfect way! I want to be child number 14, can I? Huh, can i please??? LOL

You would make a great sister lover.

Mim said...

I love the stories of your family. I had 8 cousins and we all grew up in the same building, altho in separate apartments. But we all feel like siblings and have those same "funny to only us" memories. I was thinking the other day how you are always young to your siblings -
Happy Birthday Suzie!

soulbrush said...

another birthday, anotjer wonderful tribute. how lucky you are to be blessed with such a fine family, and so much love. hugs and happy birthday.

A Spoonful Of Sugar said...

Your childhood sounds like a real hoot Renee! Suzie sounds like another wonderful sister. My Dad was the 7th child of 10 and his childhood stories are similar, not a lot of privacy but plenty of love and adventures.

Daria said...

Happy Birthday Suzie!

Nice to hear the childhood stories ... they remind me of mine.

It's hard to believe that time has slipped by so quickly.

Art by Sascalia said...

I have awarded you a most wonderful favorite award over at my blog!!!

Anonymous said...

Oh Renee,that is such a funny post! I love the Hell's Angels story and the one of you and Colette trying to get out of the house! LMAO!!!

Happy Birthday Suzie! Wishing you a day filled wit love, laughter and happiness!

yoborobo said...

Seriously, Renee - you should write a book about your sibs. I laughed so hard about the Hell's Angels, and how you KEPT telling your poor terrified siblings more awful things from the book. hahahahahaha! Oh, lordie, how do any of us survive childhood? :) Thank you so much for the giggles, even though I had to set my tea down so I wouldn't inhale it through my nose. Now put your dang top on and behave yourself. xoxox Pam

Artistic Accents by Darla said...

What a great story! I love the 'lil stinker' in you!! I've got some of that myself, it's FUN!

Artistic Accents by Darla said...

OH!! And happy birthday Suzie!

Oops! Desperate Blogger~ said...

You know how much fun it is to read about your family, right? It's like being there. Thank you Renee, for sharing them and the remembered stories....especially out of gas in a stripper joint frequented by not so angelic angels. LOL!

Tammy said...

Hi Renee,
Loved the stories, Thanks for sharing another great writing.
Happy Birthday Suzie.
Have a Great Weekend!
Hugs and God Bless!

nollyposh said...

HapPy Birthday SuZie! x

Meghann said...

Happy birthday Suzie! Your sister sounds like a wonderful woman. And YOU need to be nicer to yourself :)
Have a sunny, happy, blessed day,
Meg xoxo

Sonia ;) said...

Renee....I am again envious of the sisterhood growing up with sisters...My lil brothers and I have stories...but we are different in the interuptations( that looks spelled wrong)..Back to work I go..In the art studio I go...LOL on Hells Angels...I grew up with Italian Mafia scares...

Sonia xoxox

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Suzie! Renee, you are a great story teller. You had so much fun.
Blessings, Barb

Silke said...

Oh, that biker story made me laugh! I am sure it was scary at the time, but what a great memory to have... What a loving tribute to your sister! Happy Birthday, Suzie! Hugs, Silke

Ingrid Mida said...

I love reading about your family! You create such vivid portraits.
I took your advice today and finally checked my self doubt at the door. I opened an Etsy shop and wrote a post about it, mentioning you and your encouragement and support. Thank you Renee!

Pattee said...

I absolutely love this post Renee... you were a "Hells Angel" at heart!

I just love your being...

I'm off today for Montana~
Much Love ~Pattee

studio lolo said...

Birthday blessings to sister Suzie ;)

My brother could have been one of those bikers. No shit! Now he's a pussycat 63 year old biker dude who, like Suzie would give nine cents of his last dime to a stranger if he needed it.

Renee, you were a bugger of a kid! That could be one of the things I love about you ;)
I love your family stories! And this is a wonderful painting by KV, once again capturing your family perfectly.

Happy Saturday my friend!

Deborah said...

What a great way to start my day! You have deepened the crinkles around my eyes and my laugh lines are still twitching. But it was worth it. Happy Happy Birthday Suzie! How blessed you all are to have each other. Renee, you must start writing two entries a day...your memories are priceless. Love to you and all your wonderful family!!! Deborah

karengberger said...

I love it when you share memories like these. I was reading this aloud to my husband, and he said, "She could write a book of these stories, about growing up as one of 13 children." We were both laughing out loud at your "road trips." Hugs to you.

Deborah@ The Painted Nest said...

Renee, I sware girl YOU move me beyond words!!!I laugh~ I cry ~I ache ~I scream!!!~~~~~I'm the mother of a family like that!!! I have five children and it was always chaos!!!But I loved every freaking minute of it. The way you speak of your sister ~~~your family~~~your grand daughter~~~You're a BEAUTIFUL SOUL Renee!!!~~~And here'sto your sister "Happy Birthday Dear Sweet Suzie"!!!!~~~~~~Deborah

Diana Evans said...

oh how wonderful Renee....Your stories of family are so much fun and I love hearing about each and every are as sweet as they come...

and you are very me you are a wonderful have a way with words and a way to make our days!!!


Happy birthday Suzie!!!!

Anonymous said...

I'm jealous! :-(
I have 3 brothers, but no sister, and 2 sons but no daughter!

Love your stories


Angela Recada said...

Good morning, dear Renee!

Oh my God, I'm laughing so hard right now! What great memories you share with us! How wonderful that you all packed up and took these road trips all over Canada and the US with your whole family. We did that, too, but it was just me and the cooler and all the extra camping gear in the back seat. How I would have loved to have a sister like you!

Happy birthday to Suzie!

Hugs and love,

Sarah said...

Happy Birthday Suzie!! I love the way you take all these memories and stitch them into amazingly funny little quilts. I can sooo see every one of your family!! You are a funny girl Renee!! Love you, Sarah

Caio Fernandes said...

hi Renee !! today i found your blog . what a delicious!!!!! it is so lovely....

Marie S said...

Oh no, in my laughter I forgot to wish Suzie a happy birthday.
I want to be 15
LOL sweetmango

Renee come see, I have another

YayaOrchid said...

Happy Birthday Suzie!! And many more!

Renee, you have the most delightful stories of your childhood. No wonder you're so much fun to read!

Manon Doyle said...

Happy Birthday Suzie!
The wonderful thing about such a big family is all the great stories you share and I'm sure you have enough to fill many books!
I laughed so much reading this post!! Write a book Renee...... it would be fabulous!!
BTW..... the only province I haven't been to is Newfoundland! : )

Karin Bartimole said...

wow wow wow. So glad you guys lived to laugh another day!! that was one hellofa story Renee!
What can I say, but Happy birthday to Suzie - wishing her the happiest, healthiest, peaceful and joyful 59th year!!
blessings to you and your wildly wonderful family.
xoxo Karin

rochambeau said...

Happy birthday to Susie! She sounds like a gem! You have so many birthdays in your family Renee/Lover.
What I notice when I read your accounts is that you are candid about your opinions. I bet your sibling come to you for advise, because you tell it like it is! Also, were standing up for your 5 year old sister. You are a brave person.
I like how you include the swearing. The tales just wouldn't be the same without.

Thinking of you!

kj said...

for now: tsup.

later aligator.


Mickey said...

Happy Birthday Suzie I also am glad you are my sister and yes it is a privilege.

Suzie you really are the most caring person I always bug you that you only think with your heart but truth be known maybe that is a kinder place to be. You are always concerned about others and truly care and I want you to know I love you, care for you, love to have you around, everything you are a great sister.

I love the story about the hells angels as I could just see Suzie exactly like Renee describes her and everytime I here it I laugh like crazy. Suzie is also very very funny she is just hilarious.

I love you Suzie Mickey

~ ennui ~ said...

wonderful stories and memories....beautiful tribute.
happy b-day suzie!

yoborobo said...

Count me in, Renee!!! :) And happy birthday to Suzie! xoxo Pam

DiamondsandToads said...

Your work continues to surprise and inspire me. I keep your blog on my favorites list, and I know my students are inspired by it.

angelique said...

Perfect description of Auntie Suzie.
Cheers to Auntie Suzie!

Anna Lefler said...

I love this post!

Those were the good old days, yes? Our parents leaving us in cars? I'm not even being sarcastic - I have great memories of adventures just like that.

I'm a little bitter that I don't have a cousin named "Mo," though.

Sending love and hugs!



Shelly said...

I loved being in the car with you and Suzy … “red red wiiine, go to my heeaad …” you two turned me on to Neil, thank you very much!

It is true, when I think of generous and loving and someone who is really truly that I do think of Suzy.

Suzy always spoiled me and took me on many shopping sprees, she bought me my first ever bra - a trainer of course.

Suzy is kind and caring not to mention a big softy – she didn’t even get mad at me when I burst out laughing after she told me she left a message for Dad on Mom's phone four months after he passed away. I love you Suzy very very much!

Fabulous Finds Gal said...

Oh... you got me laughing and crying. You are an amazing writer. I can't wait to hear more.
Thanks for your kind words on my Precious Times post.

Bless you and your family,

Karin Bartimole said...

so, when's *our* next family reunion Renee?!?
xox Karin

jacquie said...

happy birthday suzie

i laughed till i cried out loud....this was a great post because it brought back so many memories growing up.
renee is right suzie is kind to a fault.
i remember chasing after colette and renee with suzie and camille and i could cheerfully haved killed the two little buggars.
hope you had a great b-day suzie
love jacquie

A Thousand Clapping Hands said...

Dear Renee ,
"We know each other's hearts." How true that is. The bond between sisters is a special one. I have two. Since you and I are the same age it is so easy for me to visualize these stories and the time period. That biker story was frightening! But it's so much fun to look back and laugh.
Enjoy what's left of the weekend,

Catherine xx

Jenniwren said...

I love your stories of times shared with family. Almost hilarious and slightly scary.... you write so well.
Thanks for sharing. I lost one of my 3 sisters 4 years ago, and it still hurts, but remembering the fun we all had together always puts a smile on my face. I love the way the F bomb is so much a part of your "conversations" with your sisters... much like mine.
Thanks again for brightening up a gloomy Sunday in Sydney!

Fresh Mommy said...

Wow!! 13 kids!! Goodness, but that's awesome. And that first biker story is awesome!! LOL


Anonymous said...

I adore the pix. A bird in the hand is worth more than...

...those circling your head.

Much love,

K said...

These stories are AWESOME Renee! Classics!!!
My big sis is visiting me this weekend and we have had an amazing time...laughing our asses off about funny memories and silly things we would do or say! There is nothing like that bond sisters share...truly priceless! I haven't laughed so much in a LONG time!
I wanted to thank you also for the best compliment I may have ever received on my blog the other day! Made by day!!!!! xoxox

Marie S said...

Good night Renee, sweet dreams!
Hugs and kisses

Tessa said...

I nearly rocked myself off my chair with laughter! Renee, you and your sisters - oh, oh what completely wonderful stories you tell about your lives together. Please, please put them all together in book form - it is a sisterhood like no other I've ever read about. Enchanting, funny, loving, sometimes poignant, always beautiful. Please Renee, a book?

Happy Birthday to lovely, blue-eyed Suzie and happy days, always. xxoo

Debbie said...

What a funny and loving post to your sister! You are lucky to have such a great family.

Marie S said...

Happy Sunday my sweet,
You know Renee it is the eyes that draw me in to the work also.
So soulful!
I see more behind the eyes of Meta's paintings than I do in some people.
Love and hugs,

A Cuban In London said...

You wicked, devilish woman :-)! I have been laughing my head off from beginning to end. You amde me jealous actually. I have no brothers or sisters, so I can just dream about how much fun you had on those trips across the border and visiting all those places. That bit about the Hell's Angels was unbelievable narration. You are an amazing story-teller. And before I forget as I did the other day when I popped by, your new header is mind-blowing. The combination of different shades of red mixed with your post from yesterday made me enjoy the tale even more.

Happy birthday to your sister and I hope you have a fab Sunday!

Many thanks.

Greetings from London.

Great-Granny Grandma said...

I love reading these posts about your family, and feel a little envious as I was an only child who always wished I could have had a sister or a brother.

Sounds like you were blessed with an awesome, close knit, and loving one. You must have had great times together, and now all these wonderful memories.

You should write a book.

Lydia said...

What a large family. I would have loved it! Fun times, when you can still talk to one another and laugh.

I remember when my oldest brother got his license and we other 3 were allowed to drive with him to church, while our folks drove separately. We sang "In the Jungle" - each having a different voice-it was great!We sounded so cool.:) WE also did other songs. We had sooo much fun!!!

You are so blessed to have such loving memories.

Camille said...

Happy Birthday Suzie!! Sorry this is late. You truly are the most thoughtful person. Always thinking of others. We sure did have great times growing up. What was your nickname from dad? Snookims? Hope you had a great day! Love you to pieces.

Rusted Wings said...

I'm sure Suzie was so blessed by your special blog birthday tribute to her! You really otta write a book (with lots of pictures!!) My six daughters had so many wild memories too....what a legacy of treasured life experiences!!

Elizabeth said...

These portraits of your family are fantastic. I think you should put them all together, edit a little, tweak them and make a book. Really. Thanks for being such a wonderful storyteller...

Tammy said...

Hey There,
Thank You for all of your wonderful support!
Stop by my blog to pick up a little something from me to you.
Many Hugs!

yoon see said...

Happy 59th Birthday Suzie from yoon see

Sue said...

I'm a day late wishing Suzie a Happy Birthday....I hope your day was absolutely wonderful Suzie!

Renee, I love your posts about your family, I chuckle, groan (especially when I can identify exactly with something you are mentioning), and thoroughly enjoy reading them. How blessed you are with your large and diverse family!

Marie S said...

Happy Monday Renee!!
Love and Hugs,

Momo Luna said...

What a lovely post, full of fun and love. Like it very much!
I have two sisters and yes, as you wrote, your family are the ones that know you how you really are.

Sweet greetz, Momo Luna

Jeannine said...

Happy Birthday Suzie!

The artist that painted that picture must have known you as a little girl. I can imagine that you looked exactly like that. You are a wonderful caring person Suzie and I love you very much. We are exactly three months apart in age but yes I am older which you don't let me forget. Renee, I really needed that laugh today reading about all the fun you had as children.

Love You Always
Jeannine XOXOXO

Ronnie said...

I love these stories, Renee. Thanks for your memories. I was laughing here all by myself like a crazy person. I changed my blog color to your cool blue for the summer. AHhhh!
Take care, sweetie and send happiness to your sibs.

Once Upon A Blue Crow said...

I was riveted in my spot reading this. You should write a book :)

Anonymous said...

OMyGoodGravy that is an awesome picture of Suzie, remarkable likeness.

Suzie, happy-late-birthday to you! Again, my heart is full of laughter and affection re-living our childhood. Yes there was no one kinder that Suzie, and Renee makes me out to be the bugger, really come now we know that Renee is the leader of the pack.... cry, laugh, good for the heart.

Thanks for the memories....

Love Colette

Draffin Bears said...

Hi Renee,

I love the stories of your Family ~ what fun! They were fun times back then, when life was very different.
I am a 1957 baby so I think we might be of a similar age.

happy Birthday Suzie!


Ces said...

Belated Happy Birthday to dear Suzie. No wonder your family life is happy. You have many Geminis - Suzie, Camille, Josephine... Blonde blue eyed Suzie, what a fun lady. Wishing Suzie more birthdays!

Woman in a Window said...

Now, if Suzie gives someone the shirt off her back you'll both be topless. harharhar! (Love your harhars. They crack me up!)

Your stories feed me, they do. Thank you and happy birthday, Suzie.

Sheeanna said...

Too too funny Renee! I loved your stories. It made me think of all of the good times with my two siblings. The good ole' days! How are you love? I hope all is well with you! <3

Anonymous said...

I really want to thank all of you for my birthday wishes,(You see I am not as smart or creative as my little sister Lover) because I thought I had already posted my thanks to all you wonderful people .So when I spoke to Renee and asked her what happened she said that I had to hit post it, so hopefully this works and again I thank you Renee and yes it is true you are definetly an angel & I love and admire you Lover xoxo Suzie