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How I Best Remember My Youngest Sister

Paul comes from a big family. He has three younger sisters and one younger brother who are all still living.

Remembering Connie

Connie with pigs on our farm.  Taken around 1969 or 1970

Connie with pigs on our farm. Taken around 1969 or 1970

How I Best Remember My Youngest Sister

Constance Jo better known as Connie is my youngest sister. Connie was born in Burlington, Wisconsin, in 1959.

Besides me, Connie has one elder brother, Philip, born in 1957. She also has two elder sisters, Patty and Beatrice, born in 1954 and 1947 respectively.

Being 15 years older, I hardly knew Connie when growing up. I was too busy attending college, serving in the Navy, and living in Taiwan from 1962 until 1979. I do, however, have a few good memories of Connie during these years.

My second eldest sister, Patty, was very close to Connie when growing up. She has more memories than me during the 60s and 70s that I share in this article.

I have many memories of Connie from 1980 until the present. In this article, I share the best memories of my youngest sister.

Best Memories of Connie -- 1959-1962

Taken about 1962 or 1963.  From left to right:  Philip, Patty, and Connie.  Beatrice is standing in back.

Taken about 1962 or 1963. From left to right: Philip, Patty, and Connie. Beatrice is standing in back.

Connie recalls the following anecdote as passed on by mom. When dad picked up mom and Connie from the hospital after Connie was born, he had an old pickup truck with chicks on the back. Connie's first word spoken was "roo-roo."

In August 1962 when Connie was a little over three, grandma and grandpa Kuehn came from West Allis to visit us on the farm. As we were sitting around the dining room table, young Connie who had just woke up came down the stairs rubbing her eyes. Grandma Kuehn immediately exclaimed that Connie was so cute! The big smile on grandma's face was something I had never seen.

As a three-year-old, Connie was also very active. Once when walking on the lower driveway, she got on the road and was almost hit by a speeding car. Mom was afraid and decided that Connie had to be watched like a hawk when outside running around.

Remembering Connie -- 1963-1970

Connie with a goat on our farm.  She was about 8.

Connie with a goat on our farm. She was about 8.

Connie recalls Patty chasing her with bloody horns that had been cut off a steer. Once, she chased Connie with a dead chicken on a rope and it wrapped around Connie's leg. Patty wasn't a very good babysitter.

Patty was also a strict teacher. In the winter, Patty remembers making Connie stay out on the porch until she could correctly recite the alphabet.

According to Patty, as a young girl, Connie liked swimming and fishing for carp in the creek that ran through our land. She also liked to go blackberry picking with her elder sisters in the woods across the creek.

Being born on a farm, Connie was an animal lover from an early age. She loved cats, dogs, goats, and horses. Once, when riding with Patty, she fell off a horse and hurt her hip. She was afraid to ride after that.

As Connie got older, she also worked in the barn helping mom and dad with dairy cattle.

Besides all of her chores at home, Connie also found time to help an infirm neighbor widow wash clothes, get mail, and do other tasks around her cottage.

Although I have very few memories of Connie when I was going to college and in the Navy, I do remember, however, the 1969 Christmas season. While stationed in Japan, I received a Christmas package from mom. Inside of the package among presents was a cassette tape with the voice recordings of mom, dad, Patty, Philip, and Connie wishing me a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I could also hear Connie playing the clarinet. Before leaving Japan, I purchased a Japanese doll and another gift to present to Connie and Patty respectively when I returned to the U.S. in March 1970.

Connie's First-Grade Picture

Taken in 1965

Taken in 1965

Connie in the Barn

Connie at around age 11

Connie at around age 11

Living at Home in 1971

In 1971, lived at home between six and seven months before going away to college again. Connie was now almost completely grown! I remember spending a lot of time teaching Connie, Patty, and Philip how to play a card game called Sheepshead.

Recalling Connie's Travel Misfortune in 1976

In 1976, I was living in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, and supporting my new Taiwanese family by teaching English in my apartment. By summer, Connie had just finished her junior year of high school. While regularly corresponding with Connie that year, I thought it would be a good idea for Connie to fly over to Taiwan and help me teach English during her summer vacation. I had many students at that time and knew that Connie could help me out a lot. Since Connie had studied French in school, I was also planning for her to teach a beginning French class.

I suggested that Connie fly over to Taiwan on the same cheap charter flight that I took when traveling to Taipei in May 1973. After giving the charter flight reservation information to mom. she made reservations for Connie to travel to Taipei from Milwaukee via Los Angeles around the second week in June.

Connie and I were excited to be able to see each other again. On the day before Connie's scheduled arrival, my wife, two boys, Mike and Charles, and I took a train from Kaohsiung to Taipei. On the next morning, I went to Sungshan International Airport in Taipei to meet Connie at her scheduled arrival time. To my horror, I did not spot Connie as one of the arriving passengers. After checking with Northwest Airlines, I confirmed that Connie was not on the scheduled charter flight.

It was a disappointing trip back to Kaohsiung. Upon getting back, I immediately called mom and found out that Connie had bumped off the charter flight in Los Angeles. Connie recalls that after she had taken off her shoes and put on airline-provided slippers, she was kicked off of the plane and her seat given to another passenger. The flight had been overbooked and Connie had been hurt. My mom was extremely upset and I had to do a great deal of explaining why I had introduced such a dishonest travel agent.


Meeting Connie at O'Hare Airport in July 1978

In July 1978, I took my family from Taiwan to Wisconsin to visit mom and dad for two weeks. After taking a red-eye flight from San Francisco to Chicago O'Hare, Connie and mom met us at the airport at about 8:00 in the morning. She was driving a white Oldsmobile if I remember correctly. It was a joyous reunion and great to be back in the States after a five-year absence. After returning home, I saw Connie's room and noticed a poster of John Travolta and Olivia Newton John from the movie Grease.

A Welcome Assist in 1980

Taken about 1979.  Connie at home for Christmas

Taken about 1979. Connie at home for Christmas

In March 1980, I was living in Toledo, Ohio, with my eldest son Mike while my wife and Charles were in Taiwan.

While teaching English during the day and attending night college courses at the University of Toledo, I received a call inviting me for pre-employment processing in Maryland. I had to be away from Toledo for three days and two nights. The problem at that time was finding a babysitter for eleven-year-old Mike when he wasn't in school.

Connie answered my prayers after I called mom. She flew out to Toledo and not only took care of Mike but also audited and took notes in some of my classes.

My youngest sister helped me out tremendously. Perhaps I wouldn't have gotten the Maryland job without her assistance.

Connie's College Graduation Picture

From left to right:  dad, Connie, Patty, and mom

From left to right: dad, Connie, Patty, and mom

Three 1987 Memories of Connie

After I moved out Maryland, Connie and I didn't see each other much until 1987. In that year, I was fortunate to see Connie three times!

The first reunion was in February at the occasion of Patty's wedding in Manitowoc County. I will never forget when Connie broke one of her high heels at the church right before the marriage ceremony. She and Patty had to scramble to get it repaired before Connie participated as bridesmaid.

In July, Connie and her friend came out to Maryland to see my family and me. Although the visit was only for a couple of hours, it was great to see Connie again and show her around our home.

The third and final meeting was in December just before Christmas. Our Uncle Augie had just passed away less than a week before Christmas. My family and I drove out from Maryland and saw Connie and my other relatives at the funeral. We then followed mom and dad back to the family farm for a big Christmas season reunion attended by all of my siblings and two brother-in-laws.

Connie with Mom and Dad

Taken on Patty and Donnie's Farm probably in 1994

Taken on Patty and Donnie's Farm probably in 1994

Remembering Connie's Wedding in 2002

Front row l to r:  Beatrice's grandson, Nathan, brother-in-law Ernest, Patty, and aunt Mary; middle row: Beatrice, author's wife Danielle, aunt Donna, and niece Angie; back row:  Philip, Paul, brother-in-law John, Connie, mom, and dad

Front row l to r: Beatrice's grandson, Nathan, brother-in-law Ernest, Patty, and aunt Mary; middle row: Beatrice, author's wife Danielle, aunt Donna, and niece Angie; back row: Philip, Paul, brother-in-law John, Connie, mom, and dad

In the 1990s, I saw Connie almost every year when visiting mom and dad. Connie was living at home and working as a medical transcriptionist.

It was a pleasant surprise in September or October when Connie announced that she and John were getting married in November 2002.

My second wife Danielle and I drove out to Wisconsin to witness Connie and John's marriage in Elkhorn. After the ceremony, Patty had arranged a wonderful reception in Connie's home at Honey Lake. All of my siblings were present as well as aunts Mary and Donna from Marshfield. That evening, we had a delicious wedding dinner in West Allis that was well-attended.

Since John and Connie went away on a short honeymoon to Wisconsin Dells, Danielle and I were able to spend the night in Connie's home.



Memories of Attending a Brewers Game in 2005

From 2003 until 2007, I was working in Thailand. Every August, however, I was able to take a one-month vacation back to the United States. In August 2005, I spent one week with mom about a year after dad had passed away.

One evening, Connie, John, my brother Philip, and I drove into Milwaukee to see a Brewer's baseball game. It was our first time at the Brewers new domed stadium. Although the Brewers lost the game, all fans received a Brewers player's bobblehead.

Connie drove me to Milwaukee Airport to catch a flight to Maryland where I lived. On the way to the airport, a bird had the misfortune of flying into Connie's windshield and was immediately killed. This upset Connie a lot being a lover of animals.


Remembering Connie as a Caregiver for Mom in 2010

As early as 2000, mom started to develop the early symptoms of Parkinsons. By early 2009, mom's condition was so bad that Connie quit her job as a medical transcriptionist and became a full-time caregiver for mom.

Mom moved into Connie's home and she cared for mom by feeding her nourishment through a tube into the stomach. Besides taking mom to medical appointments, Connie also bathed and helped her go to the bathroom.

In March 2010 about one year before mom's death, I visited both mom and Connie. I was heart-broken seeing mom in such a pathetic state but knew it was much better than viewing her in a nursing home.

One of Connie's Favorite Cats

Connie with cat.  Taken in 2021

Connie with cat. Taken in 2021

Memories of Connie Since 2010

Connie stimulated my interest in genealogy research. In 2012, she sent me some old pictures of our great-grandparents. A few years later, Connie gave me a copy of the abstract of our family farm.

Patty and Connie executed mom's will after she passed away in May 2011. Connie inherited the farm homestead and plans to move back to it after she makes repairs to the plumbing and bathroom.

I now visit Connie and John about once every two years. After I move back to Wisconsin, I will visit more often.

Connie and Her Cats

Taken in April 2021

Taken in April 2021

© 2021 Paul Richard Kuehn

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