Today is the birthday of my dear sister Debbie. Since Debbie is the closest in age of all my four sisters, we’ve had a lot of shared experiences while growing up, and I want to share one of them today.
It was early September of 1983, and I was getting ready to return to Fargo for my third year of college at North Dakota State University. I had made the trip between my family farm and Fargo countless times during the previous two years, but something was different this time around: I was not making the trip alone. Debbie had finished high school the previous May, and had decided to attend North Dakota State with me this particular fall, and I’m not sure which of us was the most excited!
We were packing up my small 2-door Plymouth Duster for the 4 hour drive to Fargo, and we were already having a few problems. My car had held my possessions easily enough the previous two years, but it wasn’t quite large enough for all the stuff that a second person would also need for a year away from home. We finally compromised and decided some of the items could be brought to Fargo during our first trip back to the farm in a few weeks. I remember Debbie wouldn’t compromise on her stereo or on her favorite quilt, which would make her dorm room a little more like home. We eventually had the trunk and back seat both packed full, and after we had hugged and kissed the rest of the family good bye, we headed out on our big adventure.
We stopped at the “Chieftain” in Carrington, like I was accustomed to doing, and used the rest rooms and bought something to drink. We then headed on to Jamestown, where we repeated the process and also put on gas. From there, it was 90 miles on I94, and we were into Fargo, and driving onto the beautiful North Dakota State Campus. I was returning to Johnson Hall, and Debbie had gotten placed in Weible Hall, which sat next door, joined by a glass crosswalk. We each got checked into our rooms, and after we got the car unloaded, we went out to eat with some of my friends.
Debbie’s best friend from high school, Theresa, was also living in Weible Hall, so she wasn’t totally alone. In a short period of time, Debbie was also getting along very well with her roommate Sarah, as well as a group of girls that lived next door, and she really began to blossom. I would sometimes go more than a day without seeing Debbie, but I was still amazed every time I saw her at how much she grew up during those first few weeks at North Dakota State. She literally turned from a girl into a woman before my very eyes, and our relationship changed in the process too. Debbie became more than just my little kid sister; she also became my friend.
The most important thing that happened to Debbie on that first day in Fargo, however, had very little to do with me. When we parked the car and got out, the first person we saw was my friend Jim, who came over and greeted us. Debbie would date several of my friends in the months to come, but Jim was the man that she eventually fell in love with.
Debbie ended up finishing college in Minot, and then moved to Jamestown, where she worked as a nurse for a couple of years before marrying Jim. She now calls Jamestown home, and she and Jim are in the process of raising five sons.
The journey the two of us began in September of 1983 continues even today whenever we or our families are together. It’s been a wonderful trip so far, my dear sister: Happy Birthday!