A Tribute to My Sister

Today is my sister’s birthday. She would have been 52 years old.  Instead of celebrating, we are mourning, as she lost her battle with breast cancer just last week. In my remarks during her funeral, I spoke about our mutual love for food:

Shari shared some of my passion for food- but her obsessions were much more specifict han mine.  She absolutely loved the caramel apple pie in a bag from the Elegant Farmer in Wisconsin, which she discovered because Samantha and Zack (her children) went to camp nearby. When Shari found out the pie could be purchased at a grocery store in the suburbs of Chicago, we made a special trip during a family wedding weekend to buy a couple of these phenomenal pies.  We sat in the lobby of the hotel, plastic forks in hand, and ate as much of the pie as we could manage.  That was a happy moment.  (My blog post- The Elegant Farmer’s Wedding Piejacking)

Donuts were also an indulgence that we would never hesitate to travel miles out of our way to acquire. Best shared food experience may be discovering donuts with Biscoff cookie filling. We ordered one to split, ate it, and without having to say another word smiled at each other and got in line to another.

As I try and regain my equilibrium, I am dipping my toes back into blogging with this look back at some of the meals we enjoyed together over the past several years.

Cleveland’s B Spot:  Filling Me with Glee This is as much about my niece’s show choir competition as it is about Michael Symon’s burgers, fries, and shakes.

Cleveland:  Pigging Out at Lola Bistro  This post features celeb chef Michael Symon’s upscale Lola Bistro, and my sister being distraught over LeBron James leaving Cleveland (from April 12, 2011).

Cleveland:  Momocho- Unconventional Mexican Cuisine Cleveland’s dining scene heats up as it prepares for the RNC.

Omaha:  Dixie Quicks and the Triple D  A family wedding in Omaha leads us to this diner in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

San Diego:  Thumbing through the Dining Scene A vacation in which I drive everyone crazy succumbing to my food desires.  (includes a family photo- very rare for my blog)

DC’s Red Apron Butcher:  Kicking off a Red Letter Day


I will conclude with additional excerpts from my remarks about my sister.

 My sister and I were eight years apart.  I remember those first few months ofher life when I resented the existence of the tiny creature who was now the centerof attention in our family.

When I was 16 and Shari was 8, our relationship was still tenuous.  My most vivid memory is of trying to lock her in a room so that my friends and I could engage in nefarious teenage activities.

I took pleasure in torturing her. Shari had a huge crush on David Cassidy of the Partridge Family.  She once went to his concert and retrieved his drinking glass from the stage.  She loved that glass.  If I wanted her to do something for me, I would threaten her by saying I would wash the glass if she didn’t obey.  Her reaction was not a pretty sight.

My impression of her changed sometime during her high school years.  My parents and I went to see Shari perform asa nun in “The Sound of Music.”  It was the first time I had everheard her sing, and I was blown away by her talent. This was when I realized that our age difference meant that there were many things about my sister that I wasn’t fully aware of.

As we grew older, we had more in common. When Shari met and married Rob, I was intrigued by the fact that he had striking similarities to my husband Todd. They both have a knack for remembering obscure facts, have the same offbeat sense of humor, and found the exact same things annoying about their wives.  According to them, neither of us knew how to use a knife, have no clue how to load a dishwasher, and could  never manage to put our pocketbook or keys in a consistent place so they were readily available when we needed them.

When our parents passed away at the ages of 61 and 63, our bond grew stronger.  We made a concerted effort to see each other regularly, and although our children were years apart we became a close knit group.

One of our favorite sisterly activities was shopping at discount stores- a hobby we inherited from our mother.  On my most recent visit to Cleveland, when Shari had just completed a hospital stay and was having some difficulty walking, she insisted that we visit TJ Maxx and Marshallsi n two different locations. The shopping cart facilitated her movement and wheeling it throughout the store was a perfect way for her to get some exercise. Even better was when items went into the cart. How could I argue with that logic?

During the last few years Shari exhibited a strength at which I could only marvel. She did not let cancer define her. She always sounded upbeat, even as her disease progressed. She made the most of every moment…


Lori and Shari

May 5, 2012







  1. A lovely tribute, Lori. Thanks for sharing.

  2. cindy zitelman says

    Dear Lori – cherish your memories. there is nothing like a sister.

  3. To quote Hope – a lovely tribute.

  4. Jennifer Wilson says

    Absolutely beautiful, Lori. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud how you loved to torture your younger sister. Being the youngest of four, I know the influence you must have had on your sister. Cherish the memories of being a wonderful influence in your sister’s life.

  5. I was with you in Spirit, Thought and Prayers. Beautiful writing of memories…they are alive in your mind and heart always.

  6. This is beautiful in large part because it’s so real. I could picture those moments you describe and laugh, cry and savor along with you. I hope that these wonderful memories of making the most of every moment with your “little” sister bring you comfort during this tough time and some happiness in the future as the pain of her loss begins to ease.

  7. Robin Rosenthal says

    What a beautiful tribute, Lori. May those wonderful memories give you strength and keep her alive in your heart.

  8. What a wonderful blog and somehow I see your sister smiling from above with a doughnut in hand! Memories are forever….

  9. Jaime Banks says

    I’m so very sorry for your loss. Thanks for sharing your beautiful thoughts with your readers.

  10. Thanks to all of you for your comments. They are truly a comfort.

  11. I don’t even know you, I didn’t even know your sister, but I’m crying right now. How wonderful that you had each other and how difficult this must be for you now. You’ll hold her in your heart forever!

    • I don’t know you, but I do know your wonderful sister Kay. She has been so supportive of me during this difficult time. Thanks so much for your kind words.

  12. Shari was a perfect example of how to live life and enjoy each day as a gift. I so vividly recall her telling me to be sure to look up her sister, read her blogs, and most importantly, to read and take her advice about all things food in my new town…which happened to be her old hometown.
    Your sister and her legacy live on in her gorgeous children and in the unforgettable footprint she left on this earth. She was amazing and will never be forgotten.

  13. Just devastating, Lori, I can’t even imagine. I’m glad you are able to treasure and share those memories of donuts, pies and shared meals and I hope that someday the memories will fill you with more joy than sadness. Hugs to you and your family.

  14. Ellen Kagen Waghelstein says

    Having known your sister since you were 16, I can confirm your early memories. I’m now thinking , where was she the night of “the destroyed house”? Given your shared passion for food….I’m also wondering what was on her wedding menu when, at your request, I proudly served as her “wedding coordinator” complete with clipboard and authority! It all seems to move forward much too quickly. I am so deeply saddened by her loss Lori, for you, her family and for all those that were touched by her presence and warmth.Please know my heart is aching for you. With love.

    • Ellen- those are some great memories. thanks for sharing them and your kind words. (she wasn’t there on the night of “destroyed” house.

  15. Lori – I heard about your sister passing. I am very sorry to hear this for you, for your and her family, and for her/your friends. You know that your love and bond endures, all thru this life and beyond, in big ways and in small gestures that are forever yours, that even now, you can share with her. I mean, for you, even a doughnut is more than just a doughnut – rather it is something connected, rich and fulfilling in a way that only you and your sister understand. Celebrate and enjoy your love and your bond that will endure for all the days still to come, even beyond ours.
    My best thoughts to you and your family,

    • Pat,
      what beautiful words. thank you. And yes- a doughnut really is more than just a doughnut. love that.

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