The holidays are here and that’s when I remember my sister Irma. Even when we had Christmas at my mother’s house, she would be in the middle of the Christmas packages calling out names. I have that distinct memory in my mind and it saddens me that she left us so early in her life.
From the beginning when we were living in the housing area, I had to babysit her constantly. That was because I was the oldest in the family. I would take her to the playground and have her play on the swings which was her favorite.
When I left for the service and much later, she became the flower girl for Anita’s ad I wedding. Afterwards, I lost track of her until my son, Martin, was born. I saw her on a super 8 mm movie jumping around in front of the Barron family house with Martin on the grass trying to get him to pose for the camera.
From that time, I saw little of her until I retired. It was Christmas in 1978 and it was the first Christmas with the whole Cortez family that we’ve missed all these years. Irma was there at the house on Fitch Street. You could hear her laughter because it was loud. When it was time to open the gifts, she was right in the middle of all the packages with my other sister Delia. Calling the names of the recipients.
So, when she and her family moved to a north side home, the Thanksgiving and Easter events were held at her house. Christmas was still held at my mother’s house. Later my mother moved to a bigger house with more room for our activities. Irma, loud and boisterous was still doing the same thing she had been doing all along every year at Christmas.
There were some tragic events in her family and Irma weathered them all trusting in her faith in the Lord. Her response to any sayings on scripture or if their pastor was quoting scripture was “tell it like it is pastor” or “Amen to that” and it was done loud and clear where everybody could hear. I can still hear her saying to me “hey brother, how are you doing?” She was the only one who called me that. Everybody else called me “junior” or Gene.
When I heard that she was diagnosed with cancer, I was devastated and found out later that her sickness spread throughout her body. Her children had already grown and were with her when she passed away. My brother in law, Larry took it very hard and veered away from the family in mourning. We are constantly praying for him.
For me, I still feel her spirit and I try to live just like she did, with a generous heart and belief in the Lord.