Goodbye, my sister

Goodbye, my sister

Goodbye, my sister

This is probably the most difficult column I have ever written. I could write a book about me and the girl whom I have loved for as long as I can remember.

That's about 82 years now. Maybe a little longer. But the memories of my darling sister Ophelia will be with me till my last breath on polluted Planet Earth. She and Mom are the first two people I expect to see in that wonderful place somewhere “Up Yonder.” Now that's something to look forward to; worth writing home about.

You folks way out West, in Pershing County, Nev., probably did not suffer through the Dirty Thirties as poorly as the West Texas dryland farmers and their families did. To add to the Texas farmers' problems because of the Great Depression, we also suffered through the Dust Bowl Daze; a double whammy for us. No jobs, no money, a dim future was apparent. We lived, we worked, we survived, and through it all, I have wonderful memories of those dark days. Memories of our family struggles for work, for food, for survival. Memories of sister Ophelia's laughter.

Through it all, besides our worries and anxieties, we kids fared rather well for poor folks. None of us ever got in serious trouble, with the law or friend or foe. Through it all, Ophelia was always the positive one, laughing and smiling, no matter how bleak our future seemed.

She was laughing all the blessed time, about everything we did or said. I would get thrown to high Heaven, then to the ground, in a game of “Pop the Whip,” because I was always at the end of the Whip. I would roll and tumble, come up whining or crying, and she would be the one that smoothed my ego and laughingly made me want to go do it again.

We did not realize the Evil One in Europe would be mostly responsible for getting us out of the miserable Dust Bowl cotton fields of Texas, and into a whole new life out West, in a metropolis called Imlay, Nevada. Old Crazy got Europe into a major war, then when USA entered the fray after Pearl Harbor, jobs became plentiful, and dad was offered a job in Imlay working at the Roundhouse for the Southern Pacific Railroad. It took us nine days to make the trip by train, and sister Ophelia was shining and laughing all the way. We had a new lease on life, a new start on an even playing field. Imlay was good for us, and we grew up, went our separate ways, but over the years, Ophelia and I were just a phone call away. I just loved to hear her laughter over the phone. It took me back to Texas during the Dirty Thirties, and her consoling me when I was down. My comforter. My buddy. My friend. My sister.

Through a few bad choices made by me, I ended up back in Texas, and she and husband Curtis Theobald lived in California until his retirement. Then they moved to Fernley. They bought a house in Imlay for a weekend retreat, and Ophelia used it most every week until a few years ago, when old age made traveling a problem. She was an active member of Imlay Baptist Church, and was in attendance most every Sunday. My annual vacations from Texas to Nevada were highlighted by my visits to her home in Fernley, and her part-time home in Imlay. We talked, laughed, reminisced, and enjoyed every minute together, for a lifetime, and I do not remember even one second we had angry or unkind words toward one another. Amazing.

On Nov. 18, 2017, my niece in Pennsylvania phoned me and said, uncle Roy, did you know aunt Ophelia is dead? She died yesterday in a Reno hospital, of natural causes. I phoned the coroner in Reno, and was told she had been taken by ambulance to a Reno hospital suffering from head injuries. She died two days later from the injuries, according to the coroner.

On Saturday Jan. 20, her memorial funeral service will held in her beloved Imlay Baptist Church. Her remains will be placed in the lonely Lone Mountain Cemetery above Lovelock, to honor her request, beside her two sons, who have been there about 60 years. My heart is aching for you, and I cannot wait to hear your laughter again. I'm proud I told you I loved you, many, many times, over the years. See you soon, my beloved sister.

Your brother, Roy

Roy Bale can be reached at