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The Child

She is bright and has a smile that could melt her Fathers heart.  Her Mother knew that one day; her childs calling was sure to start.  A seed planted in faith, has grown into the Majestic Oak she is today  - casting a shadow of Love in the lives of all who pass her way.  The years have passed so quickly and I have much still to do.  Songs to sing and games to play and books to write; to name a few.  As I gaze upon this child I knew; so very long ago.  She speaks to me of days gone by; and the renewing of my soul.  Lisa A. Ashley, 2-10-02


"Little Hopper"

Author: Betty Rose Brown©1-25-2002

(Excerpts, the full story is found in "Creative Writing" page)

Thinking back, I remembered how she would not eat and was near death. No mater how hard our parents tried to feed her, she would only take a couple of bites. This went on for days. One day Daddy said, "I have an idea that might just work." He fixed a bowl of soup, then went to my sister’s bedside, and offered her some of the soup. His three other children stood watching, hoping she would at least try to eat, but again she refused. Then Daddy told her, "Awe now little Hopper, don’t you want to get stronger? We’re all going fishing today." "I won’t to go", she said, in a very weak frail voice. Daddy said,"Awe, you’re too weak to come with us. But we will tell you all about it when we get back."

Little Hopper began to cry. She loved fishing more than she loved anything. Wiping her tears, Daddy said, "if you will eat all this soup, and get stronger ?we will postpone the fishing trip until you are well and can come with us ?want we kids?" We all agreed. With that said, Little Hopper slowly began to eat until the bowl was empty.

We all have traits and talents that we inherit from various members of our families. Also, we all have God given traits and talents of our own. Webster defines the words "Prodigy" as: 1. Enormously intelligent or precocious person. 2. Something extraordinary; wonder. 3. A highly talented child. Webster defines "Precocious" as 1. Showing early talent. 2. Advanced or gifted. My sister, Henry Etta, is all of these and more.

Born August 31, 1945 - the fourteenth child in a family that would total sixteen children by 1951. She learned early on that, she had to pick her place and stand her ground, if she was to get the attention she desired. Henry Etta, named for our father William Henry Bishop, is as high spirited as he, and that just made him instigate a lot of the behavior she displayed as a young child. Not to speak of the big brown eyes and natural curly, dark chocolate color hair, he adored. He would do everything he could to get a rise out of her. Her reactions were cute and humorous to us all.

Daddy took his children fishing with him by the time each were three years old. He taught us to use a broom weed to frighten grasshoppers out of the grass, then catch them for bait. On Henry Etta’s first fishing trip, the older children let her catch the grasshoppers. She was not afraid of any kind of insect. Excited she, attacked the tall grass as if she were chasing a rabbit. The first one that jumped up ?she snatched it and ran to daddy screaming "Hopper, daddy, Hopper". From that day, his nickname for her was "Little Hopper". Needless to say, he spoiled her as he did each of us.

Time will not permit me to elaborate on all of my sister’s attributes, of the joys, ups and downs or even the childhood memories we share ?and she has a memory like an elephant. We are a close knit family of christen faith. When troubles come, it only takes one phone call to get the family prayer chain going.

As young adults we both married the same year. The next year I had a daughter, but it would be several years before she started her family. When my daughter began talking she couldn’t say "Henry Etta" ?it would come out "Redda", thus giving her, the nickname she is known by today.

My daughter at age 5, ask what is a rainbow;  So my sister told us the story from the Bible of Noah and the Ark. giving scripture, where to find it in the Bible. I remember thinking ?I’ve never heard this before and I will look it up tonight ?which I did, she was right. That was the day that I realized my sister is very gifted and talented and how very special she is to me.

Redda is sixteen months younger than I am. I have always admired her courage and strength. Her ability to accept and endure the things in life, that she can not change, and change the things she can ?with the Wisdom of Solomon. The love she has for her family is beyond measure. She is my inspiration, my hero and has always been there for me. I love her dearly.

There is something about the way Redda prays that would silence the birds and make angels stand at attention. When I would have problems and feel the need to pray ?my first thought is to, call her to pray with me. Many is the times, I would do just that. She always made me see that, our strength comes from God. She would tell me to hold my head up, and keep praying.

It’s as if having her pray with the authoritative tone of her voice, the answer would come faster. Her faith in God, that is where her true strength lies.

Redda has always been a small person in body, the long-term results, of having had rickets as a child. But, because of the following events in her adult life ?in my eyes, she is a giant!

In 1996, Redda’s husband ?a self-employed Building Contractor –was diagnosed with colon cancer. In sight of a month, he became bedridden. The cancer was too advanced for surgery ?this began an eighteen month, struggle beyond belief. They had no medical or burial insurance, plus, they had no savings. In the weeks that followed, I stayed on the phone in close contact with my sister. Encouraging her to hold on, believing help would come. She had applied for assistance, to every agency available, to no avail. I even called the Texas State Senator. Who said, "The family is not eligible for assistance, not even for the minor child. Unless if, and when Hospice takes over."

By now, my sister had a strong hold on the situation, in areas that she had some control of.

I witnessed first hand the deteriorating body of my brother-in-law. He now weighted 87 lbs., unable to get up to eat or go to the bathroom. Redda seemed to be holding strong in body and spirit, despite the hard hours she spent caring for her husband.

One month later, Hospice was caring for my brother-in-law. They soon moved him to a nursing home. The doctor talked to the family. "It would be a matter of hours, he could not last more than three days" he said.  Everyone was there excepting, their oldest daughter. Then the unthinkable happened.

They received a call informing them, their daughter had gone into labor and was being rushed to a hospital in Fort Worth, Texas. She was in her fourth month. Redda was torn between, going to be with her daughter, or staying with her husband and two other children.

The next three years would be a blur for Redda. God would carry her through it all, bringing her closer to him.

In November 2000, Redda was diagnosed with dementia. The news hit the whole family like a brick.    (Click Medal for Story)

 Award winning story, MSU Cultural Arts Writing, May 22, 2002.