Remembering My Sister, Connie Lynn Bolinger (February 12, 1953 – May 22, 2011)

Connie Lynn

My sister Connie lived in a very private world, usually keeping people, even those closest to her, at a respectful distance, not because she didn’t love them, but rather because she felt that any problems she might be carrying should never weigh down those around her, and opening those locked doors meant releasing pain she did not want to share with others even if it signified receiving the regard and healing that those around her often wanted so much to give her.  Part of this, of course, was based upon Connie’s fierce pride in her own independence, but part came also from her staunch personal resolution never to wound anyone with her own burdens.

The place where my sister found peace, beauty, and healing was in music.  That is where the material world dissolved for her through seeing new harmonies and breathtaking melodies.  Anyone who ever found the real Connie discovered her there, where musical invention came from her speaking to God and from God’s responses through Connie’s heart and down through her fingers at the keyboard.

My sister had a short temper and could, with little provocation, verbally julienne someone like a cat shredding window drapes.  But, she also had a wonderful sense of humor, a generous heart, and a faith in God not often shaken, even by the enormous trials she faced.

I remember holding my sister in the little pink blanket used to bring her home from the hospital after her birth.  I was seven years old.  We became over time each other’s chief promoter and protector, and now that I will miss her, I am thankful for the fifty-eight years of memories we shared together.  Thank God for Connie Lynn.

Shortly before she died, Connie gave me a copy of the poem “On Playing a Church Piano,” which she said expressed perfectly what she felt each time she sat at the keyboard in that place.

On Playing a Church Piano

It’s something about the darkness of the place, when I relax a moment to decide what makes this work so pleasing; is it the thrill of lights fixed on the tall bronze cross, or perhaps the colored figures in the glass?  But then the stack of staves upon the stand cries out for study, and my fingers arch again and dance, though not gracefully at first — more like cautious children avoiding creaky boards. Yet hidden strings in the wood awake and sing –and the dark, cool room seems full.  And then I realize:  It is.


As a former school teacher, I find that as I age, I see behind me a panorama of those who are gone now, those whom I have loved and those who were A+ human beings among friends, former students, and family and who in life’s grand record book are now sadly absent. Though it has been five years since my sister’s death, I sometimes still have a fleeting urge to pick up the phone for a chat with Connie Lynn and to hear her laughter again.  JB

Connie Lynn with Starks grandparents

Connie with our maternal grandparents, June, 1978

About John

John Bolinger was born and raised in Northwest Indiana, where he attended Ball State University and Purdue University, receiving his BA and MA from those schools. Then he taught English and French for thirty-five years at Morton High School in Hammond, Indiana before moving to Colorado. He spends his winters in Pompano Beach, Florida. Besides COME SEPTEMBER, Journey of a High School Teacher, John's other books are ALL MY LAZY RIVERS, an Indiana Childhood, and COME ON, FLUFFY, THIS AIN'T NO BALLET, a Novel on Coming of Age, all available on as paperbacks and Kindle books. Alternately funny and touching, COME SEPTEMBER, conveys the story of every high school teacher’s struggle to enlighten both himself and his pupils, encountering along the way, battles with colleagues, administrators, and parents through a parade of characters that include a freshman boy for whom the faculty code name is “Spawn of Satan,” to a senior girl whose water breaks during a pop-quiz over THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS. Through social change and the relentless march of technology, the human element remains constant in the book’s personal, entertaining, and sympathetic portraits of faculty, students, parents, and others. The audience for this book will certainly include school teachers everywhere, teenagers, parents of teens, as well as anyone who appreciates that blend of humor and pathos with which the world of public education is drenched. The drive of the story is the narrator's struggle to become the best teacher he can be. The book is filled with advice for young teachers based upon experience of the writer, advice that will never be found in college methods classes. Another of John's recent books is Mum's the Word: Secrets of a Family. It is the story of his alcoholic father and the family's efforts to deal with or hide the fact. Though a serious treatment of the horrors of alcoholism, the book also entertains in its descriptions of the father during his best times and the humor of the family's attempts to create a façade for the outside world. All John's books are available as paperbacks and Kindle readers on Amazon, and also as paperbacks at Barnes & Noble. John's sixth and most recent book, Growing Old in America: Notes from a Codger was released on June 15, 2014.
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3 Responses to Remembering My Sister, Connie Lynn Bolinger (February 12, 1953 – May 22, 2011)

  1. Mark Teran says:

    Mr. Bolinger – I don’t envy your saddness , if I miss my Father – I can just imagine the sadness after loosing a sibling. I’m sure you treated her in the kindness manner while she lived as you did your students; and, for this, you should find peace.

    Best Regards – Mark Teran

  2. Dennis Zelenke says:

    John, what can one say when you reflect so movingly, so honestly about the absence of one so dear as your sister Connie. Opening your heart here lets others like myself remember and cherish those who have touched and changed our lives. THANKSGIVING should not just be a day in November but everyday where memories and “the now” bless each and every one of us.

  3. Dennis Zelenke says:

    John, you write so movingly, so honestly about your sister Connie that readers, myself included, need to reflect upon and cherish those who have graced our lives.
    THANKSGIVING should not be just a day in November but everyday where memories and “the now” bless each and every one of us.

    Gratefully, Dennis

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