Here’s the thing I want you to know about my sister.
A long time ago—I must have been about seven years old, which would have made Ruthie five—I did something rotten to her. What it was, I can’t remember. I teased her all the time, and she spent much of her childhood whaling the tar out of me for it.
Whatever happened that time, though, must have been awful, because our father told me to go lie down on my bed and wait for him. That could mean only one thing: that he was going to deliver one of his rare but highly effective spankings, with his belt.
I cannot recall what my offense was, but I well remember walking down the hallway and climbing onto the bed, knowing full well that I deserved it. I always did. Nothing to be done but to stretch out, facedown, and take what I had coming.
And then it happened. Ruthie ran into the bedroom just ahead of Paw and, sobbing, threw herself across me.
“Whip me!” she cried. “Daddy, whip me!”
Paw gave no spankings that day. He turned and walked away. Ruthie left too. There I sat, on the bed, wondering what had just happened.
Forty years later, I still do.