These are notes written to Phyl by her siblings at Christmastime, 2001.
This is a new Isabel Bloom figure named "Carry Me." We younger siblings decided it was the perfect thing to give to you in appreciation for helping raise us. We all agree that you did a great job!
As you might suspect, Paul's comments are still in his brain. When he gets them to me, I'll send them on.
Paul, Betty, Gwen, Jo, Margy and Loey
Mom was so busy that you became our surrogate mother, our mentor, our arbitrator, and friend.
I can recall your spending evening time setting the younger girls' hair in bobby pins, with over a hundred pincurls in my hair alone. You would have me memorize scripture, and I would test you on verses of the Bible while you carried out this tedious hair task. In Kodai you braided my hair.
You were and still are a model arbitrator. You're very creative in dealing with interpersonal problems. When we fought about drying dishes, you made up a schedule that was fair and made the chore a game. It made the task less onerous, and you accomplished this so cheerfully. You also made up games to pass the time on long trips.
You helped me with homework, with getting Gwen and Jo to help clean our room, with sewing, and exercising a gentle influence that balanced Dad's disciplinary style. I needed that.
You raised a family before you were married and had your own tribe. You raised your siblings and if I might say so, you did a great job. Just think how far your influence has reached! For your nurturance I say, " Thank-you, Phyllis. We all love you."
You taught me more about bringing up kids than any other person in my life. Your creative handling of our problems was a model I used with my own children and with my fifth grade students when I taught school. I even use some of your style in graduate teaching.
When Jo and I didn't want to wash dishes or put our hair in pin-curls or practice piano, you didn't yell or threaten and we always ended up doing what you wanted.
Thanks for teaching me to knit, embroider, fix my hair, take a real bath, wash dishes, and just plain grow up.
I know Dad and his beliefs and actions had an influence on me. I know Mom and her strength and caring had an influence on me. But I also know that the person who had the most influence on me as I grew up and helped determine who I became was you. (Luckily, I think I turned out REALLY well so you must have done a good job!)
There are so many neat things I remember about you, Phyl:
-putting on piano recitals and humorous skits in Reedley; I especially loved the one where you sat down on a catalog, couldn't get comfortable, tore out one page and then it was just the right height
-playing games when traveling and while doing dishes; when we were guessing how many pieces there were to dry, I sometimes sneaked several dishes back into the washing area so I'd be the closest
-your making gifts for us and teaching us to make gifts for each other; this is something I still love to do
-your unwillingness to put up with a whole lot of guff from Gwennie and me, but keeping us in line with humor or a fair, matter-of-fact firmness; I'll never forget the way you braided my hair to the chair when I was being particularly obnoxious one morning
-the doll clothes you made for Gwen and me; you knitted a sweater for my Connie doll when we went to India and finished putting it together except for one sleeve; we came back years later---I never did quite get around to finishing the sleeve
-the time you decided to make a point about my slight lack of tidiness in Hillsboro and emptied all my drawers and closet; GREAT memory!
-your above-the-call of sisterly duty when you and Elmer took me in during the year in Fresno; I don't know what I would have done without you at that time; I was really lost those days. Then it turned out that that time led to my going to Wheaton and meeting Frank. Thanks. (Frank says he isnšt too sure about the thanks on this.)
-the family history youšve written, especially the stories of Grandpa and Grandma Jungas; these stories are a gift to the next generations
-and to me you've always made me feel that it's okay to search for a faith that means something to me; I like not being preached at or told I'm wrong, and it helps to know that someone as bright and deep-thinking as you can question what we were taught and find new ways of thinking
When I was growing up, people used to say I was like my big sister Phyllis. What a compliment.
As you already know, you have been my heroine as long as I can remember. It wasn't by accident I chose teaching literature as a profession. You were the one to continue my piano lessons in Hillsboro when we no longer could afford them.
You have "carried" me through many battles with inner dragons. I remember so many wonderful and sometimes terrible times we have spent together: trekking through India--the Taj, Kodai, the Amitab movie; many long walks and talks all over the globe; surviving those Fresno years when Dad was sick; our Florida visits--beach hideaways, garden strolls, canoeing with the alligators; playing Mahjong; looking forward to the imaginative and lovely drawings from all your world tours; my oil painting from you in my living room; seeing Mountain Lake and Grandma Jungas through your creative literary vision.
There is so much, much more. You are my soul sister forever.
You are the one who helped feed my creative fire with lots of projects during the summers. That has never died and even now I run to the women's coop nearly every day to work on quilts with Stella, Anna Lakshmi and Vasuki. You also never babied us so we learned to stand on our own and to be proud of ourselves. You are now a marvelous model of health and vitality. Keep it up - see you in India soon.
Priya and I just finished a 6-hour Indian cooking course so I have lots to tell you - I've been doing lots of things wrong all along.
Bye for now.