Sisters...Connected By The Heart

If any of you are lucky enough to have a big sister, you are truly blessed. I was blessed doubly with two older sisters – Pam and Patti. Many of you already know that Pam passed away on November 7th after an accident two weeks prior from which she never regained consciousness. The sadness and shock I have been dealing with for the past weeks are, without question, the most difficult things I have ever experienced. Thank you to all of you who have sent emails, texts and flowers – another blessing in my life is my wonderful friends – both in the blogging world and my “real life” (and even more so when they overlap).
The Snyder Sisters
Pam's daughter Ashley penned the lovely obituary which appeared in yesterday's Charlotte Observer, truly capturing the essence of her mother. But today I would like to share my relationship with Pam as a sister…

Circa 1967...she would probably scream at me for putting this one on the blog but it made me smile.

As she was eight years older than me, by the time I was born Pam had already dealt with losing the status of “only child” when my sister Patti was born - she welcomed me with open arms. My mom says from day one, Pam said I was “her baby”. When I was growing up, many of my life lessons were taught to me by my two older sisters – more often than not, the practical lessons came from Patti and the mischievous “how to get away with things” lessons came from Pam. For some reason, I could never do anything wrong in Pam’s eyes – she loved animals and, quite possibly, I was the first of her many pets she adored throughout her life. She left for college when I was just nine and beyond a few summers home from college, we never lived in the same town again. But every summer, I would spend at least a week with Pam wherever she lived…those are some of my best memories from my childhood.

The ONLY "selfie" I have EVER taken was quite appropriately with Pam...in San Diego last May at my son's college graduation.
Somewhere along the line, the two of us grew from sisters into best friends. We talked on the phone almost daily – mostly about nothing special…our favorite books, the latest episode of Downton Abbey or our weekend plans. It was almost eerie how I would call her to tell her about my new sweater only to find out she ordered the same one the day before, or when we both discovered we were reading the same book at the same time. Although we could be quite different in personality, we were true kindred spirits. And whenever the going got rough, we were there for each other…through thick or thin. 

Throughout our busy lives, we always made time to get together a couple of times of year for girls’ trips. These are also some of my best memories of my life. I could always count on Pam to find the best restaurants, know ahead of time the best thing on the menu to order (she always did the research) and, finally, to know the life story of the waiter/waitress by the time coffee was served. We ate, shopped and talked non-stop – neither of us ever wanted those trips to end. 

Pam’s life’s work was helping people overcome addiction, and her passion was ending poverty and homelessness. Somehow Pam tackled those difficult issues head on in her work and her philanthropy, all while seeing the humanity behind faces that others may have considered lost causes. And, equally importantly, she did all this while never losing her sense of humor. To say she was a people person is an understatement – she could relate as easily to a four year old as to a 90 year old – and always on their level. This quality made her a particularly special Aunt to my three children – you could always count on Pam to be the one who made us double over laughing whenever we all got together. 

Carolina girls...Pam and Ashley at her UNC graduation

Pam’s proudest accomplishment was her daughter, Ashley. From the moment Ashley was born when I was just nineteen, I have loved her as if she was my own child. As I watched Ashley (now 33 and with a wonderful husband) handle life’s most difficult moments over the past two and a half weeks with grace, compassion and love, I love her more than ever and was the most proud I have ever been of Pam for raising such an amazing daughter.

All of us "girls" a few years back...
My husband, my sister Patti and my 88 year old mom were with us in Charlotte through these difficult days. No mother should ever have to lose a child at any age and it made me profoundly sad to witness my mother go through this. My sister Patti, ever the practical one, watched out for of all of us – buying fruit when my husband and I caught colds and bottles of wine when we needed it badly, picking up Krispy Kreme donuts for the ICU staff, calmly going for the nurses when she felt Pam needed a little extra assistance, brushing Pam’s hair, and, most of all, giving me her shoulder to cry on. And what can I even say about my husband – he took care of me without a single complaint for three months after I broke my arm and continued to take care of me while we stood by my sister’s bedside in Charlotte – he is my hero and I am so very lucky to have him as my husband.

Pam always held my hand when we crossed the street and we joked that she still grabbed for it when I was 30. I am so sad and I will miss her every day of my life, but I am grateful that I was able to hold her hand for the last two weeks of her life. 

I love you, Pam.

UncategorizedSandy Grodsky