About a year and a half ago, I devoted this space to my sister Brenda, who barely made it into her twenties before a combination of ill health and ill fortune took her life. She's been gone now for more than twenty years. And it occurs to me that it's been almost that long since I heard from my other sister.

If she lives, and I've heard nothing to suggest that she doesn't, Joni is forty today: she was born at the US Naval Hospital in Charleston, South Carolina on this date in 1962. She bore two children, the older of whom is now twenty-five. You can do the math if you want; I don't think it's relevant anymore. Very much in the family tradition, she spent a lot of time inside the bottle, a sojourn which came to a crashing halt the night she drove a Trans Am up a telephone pole. She survived, as did the kids, but she suffered substantial internal damage, particularly to her liver, and that was that.

Various sources report or hint or just speculate that she wound up somewhere in north Texas. This fits with her long-standing contention that wherever she is on her birthday, there will be a funnel cloud nearby, as north Texas is generally considered to be the southern terminus of Tornado Alley.

We do know that she worked for the phone company for quite a while. (Another family tradition: I used to work there, my ex-wife still does, and now so does my daughter.) Eventually she quit. After that, a rumor cropped up that she was going to chuck everything and go drive one of the big rigs. And I can believe this; one of her major complaints as a child was "We never go anywhere!" Certainly, as a long-haul trucker, she'd at least get to go somewhere.

Did we treat her badly? I don't remember. We were probably no more dysfunctional than any other grouping of siblings. But one thing does seem clear: she is in no hurry to let us know where's she's been or what she's doing. I don't even know what surname she's using these days, which makes her more difficult to Google.

I realize that the chance of her actually reading any of this stuff is somewhere between slim and none. On the other hand, it's either this or go on wondering. "Girl, where have you been?" Dare I hope for an answer?

The Vent

8 June 2002

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