In the dedication to The Gallows Gem of Prallyn, I wrote:

for Josée, who is the centre of my life,

and in memory of the lost McKinley women, Hilary (1984) and Margaret (1988)

Those who have read this blog know that Josée is indeed the central presence in my life and you will know a little about her … like she enjoys camping and travelling. You might be wondering about Hilary and Margaret. Well, Margaret was my mother, who died after a long struggle against cancer. Hilary, well, she was my older sister.

My life changed thirty years ago tomorrow when my high school law class was interrupted by a the principal, who asked me to his office. There I saw Dr. Plaxton, a regional school superintendent and father of my sister’s best friend, who sat me down and told me that Hilary had been killed in a plane crash. She was a flight instructor, achieving the dream of flight as a living by the age of 20. She was practicing spins with a student, who also died in the crash. The instant I saw Dr. Plaxton, I knew: I was taking flying lessons myself and had already heard the opinion of my instructor that the Piper Tomahawk had bad spin dynamics. Perhaps he was right. Regardless, on May 29, 1984, my life, and the lives of my family members changed forever.

Hilary, I am thinking of you. I miss you. I wish you would somehow just walk back into my life and tell me it was a bad joke. I wouldn’t even be angry at you having abandoned our lives for so long.