Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Since I neglected to pencil in ‘buy birthday present for sister’ this year, and then I forgot to call or email her on the actual anniversary of her birth, I have done this belated birthday sketch for her instead.

When she and I were growing up, older sister was my number one tormentor. The one who kept laying claim to my favorite toys, who forced me to play Darth Vader while she and her snotty friend Crystal got to be Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia, who convinced me mountains were the graves of giants then laughed at four year old me for my naivete and, worst of all, who stuck me with that stupid nickname which older members of our family still insist on calling me. Teyel. A word which makes no sense whatsoever and sounds a little too much like tail. As in, there’s Cherry followed by her little tail—oops, I mean sister.

When my sister and I are fighting, these and many, much more horrible incidents of torment are what I used to (and sometimes still do) remember. But then, when she’s at the other end of the country, or, currently, somewhere in the south pacific, I think how differently I might have turned out without her.

After our mother left and our father was finding even more ways to be erratic, illogical and frightening—living with him was like living in some Alice in Wonderland nightmare world where parents did not make sense, parents were forever changing form, parents could be truly dangerous—he, for some reason thought it would be a good idea to pass out on my bedroom floor night after night or even, once or twice, on my bed. If I’d been in a less traumatized state after the loss of my mother, I would have been able to fend him off better. I could have put into words exactly why asshole father should not do this. Not that he would have listened.—And not, I have to add, that my father was a child molester. But to lose my mother and then to realize this—this brain half gone asshole of a father was our sole parent now—was not, to put it mildly, at all comforting.

It was then of course that my formerly number one tormentor became my number one protector and best friend. My sister, without my asking her to, stepped in by inviting me to play sleep over with her. She’d read to me from a book of Grimm’s fairy tales night after night, a comforting ritual, until it was safe again to sleep in my own room.

So that’s what this image illustrates.

Happy birthday, Cherry. Love ya!


  1. My sisters are in their 20's now and I still insist on making them the victims of me, Darth Vader.

    Nothing ruins a family dinner faster than a sith lord telekinetic death choke from across the kitchen table. Maybe next time they will pass the rolls a little quicker...


    Excellent tribute to your sister!

  2. She must be so proud to have you for a sister! I love your drawing, it's adorable.

  3. A wonderful sketch for your sister, Cheryl, and a good reminder post about the sister journey. Wishing you magic-filled days. xx

  4. What a beautiful print for your sister to honor her for the role she stepped into for you.

    I know our trials made us who we are... and I can't help wondering how much stronger or different I woulda been without it? Silly to wonder since it will never be!

    Big hug to you and so glad you turned into who you are. You are a survivor!

  5. Having someone read to us as a kid is just exquisite. You have a great sister! And you reminded me to tell my brother he's a cool dude the next time I see him - He read to me Charlie and The Chocolate Factory ...

    Your illustration is magical. I like your reshuffle of your banner. xx

    PS I like your photo ... smiley and cute :)

  6. You've really captured a feeling of tenderness in that illustration.

  7. It is a beautiful pictures, that captures so much emotion. So much love and security, for both of you. I really love it, what a very special memory to illustrate. You really have such talent, never give up on your dreams.

  8. Hi De Campo, Thank you! And why does it not surprise me you'd choose Darth Vader over Luke Skywalker or Han Solo? Explains a lot...Then again, does make me think. Wish I'd preferred Darth Vader over Luke Skywalker back then.

    And I would so love to hear the stories your sisters must have about you.

    Thank you for the big, huge laugh your comment gave me, by the way. I really hope you write your own book of twisted philosophy down some day, De Campo's Guide To Subjucation or whatever. Bestseller, for sure!

    Hi Dedene, Thanks, I'm pretty glad to have her as my sister myself.

    Hi Carol Anne! Thanks! A reminder for myself really. Everyone we meet, everyone in our lives, is there for a purpose and someone to be grateful for. And the same to you, xx

    Hi Shanster, Thank you so much! She was, actually, for many years, more of a mother figure than our own mother was.

    I like to think our childhoods made us stronger than we would have been otherwise. Maybe we were paying off some karmic debt or we needed those experiences to prepare us to help others in some way.

    Big hug back, brave lady

  9. your childhood must have been so terribly difficult. i am so glad that you had a sister that helped see you through the roughest times, and must know you so well.

    i have two sisters and one brother. one sister and one brother are irritating as hell and i try to avoid them at all costs. but my little sister is just the best. we went through the same things. we get each other. we will do anything to help each other. and i think i would have never made it in life if i didn't have such a wonderful sister by my side.

    here's hoping your sister had a wonderful birthday.

  10. Beautiful sketch, great story. And hey, Darth Vader is the cool one.

  11. Hi Cheryl,

    Darth Vader is the cool one... One of my favourite people in the world calls me Darth Kaiser, and I have to say I really enjoy it...

    One can tell you love our sister very much... You were lucky to have one another...

    The sketch is adorable...:)


  12. I love the image, your memories reminding me of mine.....

  13. That sketch is beautiful. I'm sure your sister is proud of you too. Big Sisters are special. I know, because I'm a big sister too :) Just kidding.

    Have a nice weekend!

  14. Hi Sharon, thanks! I thought it was time to redo the banner. It's simple but works, I guess. Graphic design is definitely not my strong suit.
    And my photo, ha, ha! I was looking through my photos of myself and realized all of them, except maybe one or two, were taken of me while slightly or a bit more than slighly intoxicated. hmmmm....

    And sounds like you had a great brother too! Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, one of my favorite....movies...


    Hi Chris! Thank you, that means a lot!

  15. Hi Purest Green, thank you and yes! Darth Vader (and Han Solo, had the biggest crush on him) is the cool one!!!

    Hi Lena, Darth Kaiser?!!! That's awesome. And thank you, we were really lucky. Even now going home for the holidays means visiting my sister wherever she is in the world.

    Hi Braja, thank you! and it's amazing how many people I've run into can relate to the bad father experience. All in the past now...

    Hi Dutch donut girl, thanks! Big sisters are awesome! Though my little brother may disagree...

    Hope you have a great weekend too!

  16. Hi Cheryl! Thank you!!! I was channeling more than the past into that picture, actually. Times you just want a bit of love and security...And thank you again!!! XXX

    Hi Drollgirl, It was, but there was, thankfully, a good mix of the horrible and the fun. I had great friends (who I'm still friends with!) and a great sister. Still, it can be frustrating when I slam into an issue and realize it's roots go way back to le mal pere. I've let go of my anger towards him completely (we have lunch together on many weekends) but I find that how he affected me affected so many other areas of my life, like a dandelion weed.

    My sister's b-day (in Fiji) she told me was really fun. A good friend of her's threw her a surprise birthday party. Wish I could have been there.

  17. I love this picture ... and your style!!! Of course, the story you tell makes it even better!

  18. Thanks, Peter! Glad you liked it :)

  19. That sounds like a very special connection. Sometimes children have to become each other's protectors, and as sad as it is when that happens, it forges a unique bond.

  20. What a sweet tribute. I'm glad you had a protector growing up!

  21. Hi BB! It is, she and I are really close. And I know, from what I've read on your blog, that you can relate.

    Thanks Maya, me too!!!

  22. How lovely it must be to have you as a sister and what an incredible gift you have given her---much better than any card or store bought gift. You are such a talent. Thank you for sharing your talent with us!

  23. Your relationship with your sister is a true treasure, Cheryl, and I'm so glad that she stepped in for you. Wish her my best, too.

  24. And that’s why sisters are so wonderful to have.
    A very moving post and a lovely tribute to your sister.
    (late with the comment - have been out of the loop for awhile)


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