Get The Picture? By Sherry Hopkins

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 3, 2009

Sherry Hopkins

Little sister charming and fearless in face of Daddy

When I was a mere 27 months old my parents gifted our family with a baby girl. I have no recollection of this event but it surely happened because I have a sister, the only sister of my immediate family.

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We were like any other sisters and we argued and fought and tattled on one another to our hearts’ content.

Those things and the fact that we shared the same parents were the only things we had in common growing up.

Donna was the type of girl that boys went to sleep dreaming about. I was the girl that they picked for their sports team. We could not have been any more different. She was commanding and demanding, a tall radiant sunflower and I a mousy shrinking weed. She had a shock of natural blonde hair striking blue eyes and a charming smile.

She was fearless and the only child in our family that was not afraid of our Daddy. She talked back and rebelled just because she had the courage to do so. I just sat and watched, always amazed at the way she had with Daddy and people in general.

Her strength was masked in her young, thin body.

One story that stands out to her tenacity was the time that my Daddy refused to let her leave the supper table until she had cleaned her plate. My Mama was a regular cook; nothing fancy, meat, potatoes and a vegetable every night. On this particular night Mama had fixed English peas.

None of us three children cared for English peas but Mama served them anyway. I scarfed mine down mixed in my mashed potatoes to disguise the offending taste.

My brother being the baby and the only boy was automatically exempt from the pea situation. So it was left to my sister to fight the battle. She refused to eat even a single pea on her plate. She wouldn’t try, she wouldn’t move them around on the plate or hide them under a slice of bread or try to give them to the dog. She never whined or cried about it. She just sat at the table in stony silence and stared at the plate.

Everyone had long since left the table except Donna. Daddy had made it clear that she would sit there till hell froze over but she could not leave until the peas were eaten. Daddy would move to his easy chair and raise the evening paper to his face. He never looked at her another time. Donna while waging her sit-in never wavered. As my Mama cleaned the kitchen she would mumble under her breath, “She’s not going to eat them.”

To which my Daddy without moving the paper, would reply, “ She’ll sit there all night long then.”

My brother, who was too young and uninvolved to care about the drama, had moved outside to play. I watched from the safety of the doorway to see who would win. I knew that it would be my sister. She was the only person in my family including my Mama that could win a war of wills with Daddy. She was made from the same grit and steel as he was.

I’m sure she kept him on his toes when we were young. I so admired her strength. I was terrified of the situation and they weren’t even my peas. Eventually, because Daddy didn’t want to appear to give in he would allow my Mama to remove the plate of cold shriveled vegetables and that would signal an end to the standoff. Donna 1 Daddy 0. He just couldn’t ever break through that steely resolve.

She still has it today.  She has a way still of commanding the troops. She beguiles them with her innocence (she’s not) and plies them with a smile of confusion (she’s not) and before you know it you have done her bid.

It is an admiral quality. I just lumber around and awkwardly try to accomplish in a day what she can do in a moment. I have never mastered what she has and always watch closely as she works so one day I might just see her secret revealed.

You get the picture.

(Contact Sherry at <>)