“How My Sister Tried to Kill Me,” April 25, 2023

This column is from 2006:

Sometimes if I’m feeling low, I call my sister and it’s like candy, how Bobbie cheers me up. Never mind that she once tried to shoot me. Yes, with a gun. No, I’m not making it up. I have an eye witness who will back me up, if he knows what’s good for him.

But let’s not dwell on that. Far be it from me to hold a grudge against my only sister, even if she never said she was sorry.

Forgiveness usually requires repentance, but I afforded her grace for three good reasons: One, she’s my sister; two, I’m still alive; and three, by the time Bobbie repents, I’ll be dead of old age.

But enough about that. I want to tell you about how she brightens my day. Here are some examples:

When we were little girls, our parents split up. But Bobbie told me that sisters never split up, they always stick together.

When our brother was born blind, she said his blindness wouldn’t matter to anybody, except to people who didn’t matter.

When I won a scholarship and went off to college, and she stayed behind with three babies and a bad marriage, she told me to be safe, have fun and make her proud.

When I left the South to live my life in California of All Places, she flew out to be matron of honor at my wedding and let her 3-year-old scatter rose petals in my path.

When my first husband died, she put me to bed and made me rest. Six months later, she took me to Mexico and made me pose for a picture with a live chimpanzee.

Years later, when I brought my former editor to the South to meet my family, she told me if I didn’t marry him, she would.

So I married him. But that is not to say that jealousy was a motive in her nearly shooting me.

OK, here’s that story:

One summer, when I flew home with my new husband for a family reunion, my sister loaned us her car to pick up my kids at the airport. As we were leaving, I suddenly recalled what she always kept handy in the glove compartment.

“Wait here,” I told my husband, “I’ll be right back.”

I ran back in the house and found her half-asleep in her recliner.

“Sissy!” I said. “Wake up! Your gun is still in the car!”

She yawned. “My what?”

“Your gun!”

“Well, bring it in,” she said.

“I’m not touching it!”

“It won’t hurt you!”

I crossed my arms and gave her a look. She made a face, got up and stomped out to the car, mumbling words I won’t repeat.

My husband was sitting in the driver’s seat listening to a baseball game on the radio. He raised an eyebrow when he saw us.

As Bobbie opened the car door and bent down to reach into the glove box, she made a totally rude remark about my character. Never mind what. And then, OK, I’ll just go on and tell you: I poured a Diet Pepsi down the back of her pants.

It had not occurred to me that, at that very moment, she might already have the gun in her hand. I began to suspect it, however, by the look on my husband’s face — the same look I once saw when we went for a walk and a bulldog ran up and bit a chunk out of his arm.

Imagine my surprise when my sister’s head spun around like Linda Blair’s in “The Exorcist.” And then, yes, she fired off a shot.

Never mind that she fired it up in the air. My husband didn’t know that. Suffice it to say, hers were not the only pants that were wet.

Bobbie claims that it was all my fault. And that, if she had actually shot me, she’d have gotten off free and clear on grounds known in the South as “The fool needed killing.”

Still, there is one good thing about that incident. I mean, besides the fact that she didn’t kill me.

Since that day, if I call her up and she’s not home? It still cheers me up like candy, just to think of my sister, and the sound that Diet Pepsi made gurgling down her pants.

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