Sis Young Doorstep warmer By Jaine Treadwell, Features Editor 09/14/2004 Imagine approaching your 84th birthday and living life with the same enthusiasm, excitement and wide-eyed wonder as when you we

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Imagine approaching your 84th birthday and living life with the same enthusiasm, excitement and wide-eyed wonder as when you were child.

That's Sis Young.

"Sis" by any other name just wouldn't be "Sis," so when she's asked her "real" name, she'll ignore the question and talk about things that are really important. Things like growing up on Elm Street in Troy, spending time at her dad's drug store, Hollan's Corner and snitching a few of his cigarettes and hunting rats in Brundidge. But, the most important "things" in Sis' life are the people along the way.

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"I've never met a person I didn't like," she said and, the way her eyes sparkled, you knew she meant it. "People are a blessing to me. The greatest pleasure I get out of life is doing for others. And, you know what, I've found that what I've done for others has come back to me so much greater than what I did for them. I've had a good life. What a blessing it's been."

Many of the "blessings" in Sis' life gathered for a lemonade party in her honor.

However, if she had known about it, she wouldn't have had any part of it.

Sis is much more comfortable in the role of giver than that of one who receives, said Patrena McRae, close friend and lemonade party hostess.

Patrena once "pulled one over on Sis" and Sis vowed she wouldn't get caught in her shorts again.

"I'd been digging in my yard all day and I had on a pair of dirty, short shorts," she said. "But, Patrena tricked me into sticking my head in the door of the Troy Country Club."

What Sis poked her head into was a packed room of 80th birthday well-wishers.

"I've never seen such a fancy sit-down dinner in my life and so many dressed up people," Sis said, laughing. "I sat down to hide my dirty white shorts and I didn't get up again. I told Patrena not to ever do that again."

Shocked, dirty shorts and all, Sis acknowledged each guest and told the gathering how she knew each of them and what he or she meant to her - a very touching memory for each person there.

After the dinner was over, Patrena promised to "never do that again." Now four years later …

"I promised to never have a sit-down dinner again," Patrena said, with a smile. "I didn't promise not to have a lemonade party. Sis has touched so many lives and so many people love her that I wanted to give them the chance to tell her so. She's a doorstep warmer. She loves to do for others and we wanted to do something special for her."

More than 50 people stopped by West Walnut Street to wish Sis an early "Happy Birthday."

"I knew if we waited too close to her birthday, May 6, she wouldn't fall for this," Patrena said of the "trick" to get Sis over for the party. Sis was one of the first people I really got to know when I moved to Troy, temporarily, 14 years ago. She came along my street delivering cantaloupes. She stopped and gave me one and I thought, 'Who is this person?' I didn't know then how important she would become in my life."

Patrena and Sis discovered they are a lot alike. They both love bargains and will ride the roads seeking them out.

"Sis will buy anything that's a bargain," Patrena said. "She'll buy it with the idea that somebody, somewhere at some time will need it. She'll buy the last dozen watermelons on a truck or a basketful of baby food. The other day, she bought a wheelchair because it was a "good price."

Almost any day, Sis can be seen leaving "something" on someone's doorsteps.

"She's always got her kitchen counter covered with bargains she's picked up somewhere," Patrena said. "She'll tell you to get what you want, and that if you don't, the next person will."

Sis has always been a giver. She's not sure when her passion for people began but she knows that it was fueled during the 35 years she worked for the employment office in Troy.

"That was a long time ago," Sis said. "I saw a man just the other day and he looked surprised to see me. He said, 'Miss Sis, I thought you had done died.' I told him I was still hanging around. Life's too good to give up on it."

During her many years at the employment office, Sis had a hand in putting between 150 and 200 people a month to work - some of them, reluctantly.

"Some people wanted to be on welfare and I don't believe in that," she said. "I remember one man who dived under the house when he saw me coming. I hollered and told him he could stay under there if he wanted to but not to look for a check when he came out."

The man came out and Sis put him to work.

Most people needed to work and wanted to work and Sis said one of her greatest joys in life was seeing those she "put to work" be successful and productive citizens.

"I loved my job," she said. "Every day I went to work I loved it. I loved helping people. The most pleasure I get from life is doing something for others. Maybe that's what we're put here for - at least that's what I think I'm put here for because it brings so much joy and happiness to my life."

Sis also gets a kick out of playing the stock market.

"Yeah, I'm known for that," she said, with a big smile. "I'm not too bad at it either."

And, she'll share a tip or two about the "market" almost as easily as she'll slip a basket of tomatoes on a friend's porch.

No matter what Sis Young is doing, riding the roads in search of a bargain, sharing a story with a friend, playing the market or warming the doorsteps of a neighbor down the street, there's one thing for sure, she's happy with herself and her life.

"I couldn't have had a better life," she said. "I've been blessed with a wonderful family and friends and I had a job that enabled me to help a lot of people. What more could I ask for - maybe a few more years to enjoy myself."