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  • MJ Rodriguez

Sisters!

Updated: Mar 3


I am blessed to have been raised with sisters—four of them. Even though there was more age distance between us than between my brothers and me, I had a special bond with my sisters. We girls have to stick together, you know.


These sisters were all special ladies. There were three girls, Mary, Sherrilene, and Sally before Alfred was born, and Peggy was next. Dad was a farmer, so the girls often had to drive a tractor and use farm equipment. One time, Sherrilene was driving a tractor when the pressure valve built-up pressure causing it to make a loud pop as steam spewed out. It scared her so badly, she jumped off the tractor and ran all the way to the house, leaving it running. Dad laughed and went to take care of the problem.

Sally always said she was Daddy’s boy. She made a good farmhand, plowing and cultivating using the tractor. She ended up married to a farmer. I have memories of the girls and Alfred with a tractor and wagon picking corn. One person drove the tractor with pickers working both sides pulling corn and throwing it into the slow-moving wagon. A worker walked behind, picking the corn from the stalks that had been laid over by the wagon. One fall, a young neighbor wanted to help with the job. She didn’t actually want to help, she just wanted to go along because she had a crush on Alfred. She soon grew tired and insisted on riding inside the wagon. That was a mistake. She fled when ears of corn thrown a little harder than usual landed all around her.

The Cook Sisters with Stacy our guitarist

All of us girls were inclined to love music and loved to sing together. All except Peggy played instruments. Mary played the accordion, the guitar, and piano, Sherrilene strummed the banjo and guitar a little, Sally plays the guitar and piano, as do I. Sherrilene, Sally, and Peggy sang three-part harmony until Sherrilene married, then I took her place. We all loved to sew and craft. We all sewed clothing for our children, and Sally sewed for other people. She made beautiful wedding dresses for her daughters and for others. Sherrilene loved to do fabric painting, and Peggy beaded beautiful jewelry and other things.


My oldest sister Mary graduated, married, and moved away when I was about five, so I wasn’t around her much. It wasn’t until we were both grown that we were able to get to know each other as sisters. Then I enjoyed going to church with her for a while and doing other things with her as a sister.

She worked hard as a farmer’s wife and raised four children who also worked hard. An avid student of the Bible, she taught in church and eventually wrote and published a book. She loved to talk about the Bible and was a faithful servant of God.


Sherrilene loved to preserve food. and she would often head into the woods to find edible mushrooms, possum grapes, and muscadines to make jellies. Her sharp eyes cold spot a wild plum tree for half a mile, and when she moved northwest later in her life, she visited fields of vegetables and gathered vegetables to preserve.


Sally has spent her life in ministry at the local church as a pianist, teacher, and all-around do-everything person. When her husband, Cork, died, she became involved in a Bible college program, earning three doctorates and traveling inside and outside the U.S. to help with graduation ceremonies and other events for the Bible college. She now administrates over a grading station for a high school program and a Bible college, sending free correspondence courses to over 500 prisoners so they can earn a high school diploma and/or college degree(s).

Peggy and I spent many summers together harvesting muscadines and possum grapes to make jellies and pulled down vines from the trees to make wreaths. One time I was pulling at a vine that grew in a tree on the creek bank. The bank gave way, and I was left swinging over the creek until Peggy rescued me. We did what we had to do even if it meant climbing trees, and lots of laughter accompanied our activities. Our lives were never boring.


Peggy, Sally, and I spent several years singing together as the Cook Sisters and performing with our puppets in churches, schools, and the local library. We wrote some of our own songs and all of our puppet and clown scripts for VBS and other performances. We all had daughters who often performed as clowns for VBS and in skits and plays we used. For three years, we did the summer programs at the Greene County Library with our all-girls hillbilly band and our puppets, Miff and Giff.



There are only two of us left since the other three have taken residence in Heaven. I’m grateful for the memories I have of my sisters.

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