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32 years and counting...
That’s how long Big Sister Marianne and Little Sister Tara have been paired in Big Brothers Big Sisters. It was 1985 and Marianne wanted to do something positive with her life. She chose BBBS to improve a child’s life.
By the end of her initial interview, BBBS told Marianne they had the perfect match for her. She met Tara. Tara was the middle child in a family of three girls, raised by a single mother. Her father was not in Tara’s life. Their first activity was a trip to Dairy Queen. Marianne said they instantly bonded. For the next year, she and Tara spent one day of the week together doing activities. Marianne remembers her spending time at her apartment coloring and hanging out, going to local festivals and parks, going to church together, eating out. “She felt more like a daughter to me,” Marianne said.
As they approached their first year together, Tara’s family moved to Florida. While it was a good move for the family, Tara and Marianne were devastated. Marianne made a promise to Tara…..she would always be her Little Sister no matter where she lived. Marianne would find a way to see each other. Tara said she had already learned abandonment and Marianne helped her mom fill the gaps so she would become a happy secure girl.
So a long distance relationship began. Tara’s mother was so supportive of the relationship. The first summer Tara was living in Florida, Marianne and her husband made a trip to Florida to see Tara. They took her to Disney World and spent as much time together as possible. Yearly, thereafter, they traveled to see each other. During Tara’s teenage years, Marianne stuck in there and provided the guidance and love Tara needed. Marianne would tell Tara what she needed to hear, not what she wanted to hear, “because that’s what someone who loves you does,” Tara said.
Tara is now married (for 21 years!) and has 4 children. This summer, she visited Marianne. It was the first time they had one on one time as adult women, without husbands or children around. Once Marianne saw her get off that plane, she felt the same feelings she had when she came to visit as a child. They spent quality time together, cooking, watching movies, shopping, and just talking. Marianne felt like her daughter had come home to visit and said, “it was pure JOY!” Tara hopes that everyone in the program receives a ‘Marianne’. During their time together this summer, Tara and Marianne wrote their story and shared it with BBBS. They had a special relationship because of this organization. They hope by telling their story, it will encourage people to become a Big Brother or Big Sister.
Marianne (Johnson) Saxton
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