I was a newborn when Ann was going off to prep school and we did not spend much time together until we both settled in Upstate New York. She married later than I did and our children are very close to each other in age. The cousins spent time together at the lake in the summer and in the winter we alternated pre-Christmas dinners at which I was expected to have a few tools available for toy construction. This tradition lasted until the cousins were scattered and no longer able to make it.
Ann was a liberal arts graduate from Smith College. We spent one summer together at the camp on Fire Lane 17 when I was laid up a bit and I helped her cram for a chemistry course at Syracuse University. She needed to pass tests so that she could go to Yale for her first master’s degree in nursing. Our brother Sam was visiting for two weeks while this was going on and he was a Ph.D. in organic chemistry. He tried to help a bit, but it seemed he could not get down to the elementary level Ann and I were on. I’m sure my three sons, two to five years apart, are much more closely bonded than Ann, Sam and I were.
Of course Ann passed the exam and off she went in her new direction with dedication and success. She had my father’s ability to focus and apply lots of energy to accomplish anything she chose to do.
Ann had a long and productive life and she never wanted to inconvenience anybody by asking them to do something for her. She worked until she was 87 and I never realized how inflexible she really must have been. In recent years, she would say I won’t elevate my leg or use a recliner if I don’t want to. I’m sure this inner firmness meant that not one student of the many over the years ever got out of the skills lab that she taught if they were not 100 percent skilled on dosages and decimal points. This could cause a death if it was not understood and the wrong amount of medication administered. For this trait I’ve always been proud that Ann was a guardian at the nursing gate. No amount of sympathy or pressure would have caused her to alter her judgment if she was not 100 percent satisfied that a candidate should be passed on to be a registered nurse.
I’ve always been very proud of my older sister and we will miss her. Being active and useful to the age of 91 is quite an accomplishment.
Joseph Spalding is a long-time Skaneateles resident who enjoys sharing his observations about the Skaneateles lakeshore and community. He can be reached at 685-6937.