Chris McCandless Sister
I am Chris’s eldest sister, Stacy McCandless, and the
second child of Marcia and Walt. I am proud to be part of an amazing
group of siblings; Sam, Stacy, Shawna, Shelly, Shannon, Chris, Quinn and
Carine. We all grew up in an environment of constant domestic violence,
abuse, infidelity, intimidation and deception that unfortunately became
a way of life. As one of the eldest in my family I was very aware of
what was going on in our house and later in Walt and Billie’s house.
Over the years we siblings have overcome much hardship. We all learned
to survive and find strength within ourselves and I am proud to say that
we have broken that cycle with our own successful pa renting.
Like Carine, this is very difficult for me to write. It brings up so many memories that I have struggled with over the years. My strength comes from my faith, my family, my siblings and most of all, my Mom, Marcia. I am so very proud and grateful to my mom for finding the strength to file for divorce and walk away in the summer of 1972. It wasn’t easy as anyone who has tried or done so knows. She was now a single mom with six young children to care for. Walt’s intimidation continued but thankfully she had a support system waiting and we knew life would be better. I am not saying that everything was always wonderful and happy but life was better and we knew we were loved unconditionally. I wish Chris and Carine would have had that same constant in their lives. They had more materially and monetarily, and at times as a young girl I wanted tha t. But what we had plenty of was more important; values, family, truth, honesty, communication, respect, love and forgiveness. We also had our support system of grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends and our church. As an adult I can see that I got the better deal.
Support funds were sporadic at best over the next several years and our mom often worked three jobs to make ends meet. As one of her eldest children it often fell on my shoulders to help out when she was either at work or too tired. This instilled in me a strong work ethic and the knowledge that family is strength and that love goes a long way. One way in which she taught this to us was the unconditional love that she extended to Chris and Carine. Mom is a big part of why we are all so close today! As a mom myself I see my own daughters continuing Mom’s legacy and that makes me very proud.
I respect the charitable work that Walt and Billie have chosen to embrace. It is very commendable that the proceeds of the new book will go to help “mothers with needy children”, a paradox. I often wonder how Chris would feel about this ironic choice. My own feelings are ones of anger that they refused to help their own in a time of great need. After several attempts over the years to ask Walt and Billie to speak the truth I have chosen to live my life without them. At times I struggle with this decision because family is so very important to me!
I would like to thank Walt and Billie for removing much of the “Early Years” content from their website and their “Back To The Wild” book. This misinformation was something that troubled me. They mention being “dedicated to seamless interaction” between the two families. Walt and Billie did provide several opportunities for the 8 siblings to be together, and for those I will be forever grateful. However they were often filled with competition, deception and intimidation. Walt and Billie’s continued dishonesty has led to the breakdown of communication with all their children.
Chris was an amazing young man and I am so proud to be his sister. His loss is felt by all of us. Though his life may have been short it had great meaning and has touched so many. My brothers, sisters and I honor Chris each day by living our lives to the fullest while honoring each other, our families, and those around us.
Chris walked away at the age of 22 and started his life… “I have had a happy life and thank the Lord. Goodbye and may God Bless ALL!”
My life began that summer in 1972 when I was almost 12 years old… Thank you Mom!
Life is Good…Enjoy Each Day!
A note from Carine McCandless