Saturday, February 22, 2014


I read an on-line conversation recently that discussed the tendency of American couples to limit their families to two children. I grew up in a unique culture in the west, where a "quiver full" of children was the norm, and many of my peers came from homes like mine, with six, seven or eight brothers and sisters. Some of the people commenting were also raised in the 50's and 60's but in Catholic homes, where they, too, were surrounded by a crowd of siblings. The point of the article is lost to my brain right now, but I do remember thinking as I read it how much I enjoy, as an adult, having sisters.

When I was a child, I never even considered that having five sisters was unusual. Most children only know their own reality, so whatever exists in their lives is "normal" "regular"--the way life just is. It doesn't seem unusual until you gain a little maturity and can observe other people's families. More and more, I associate with families that have a sister and a brother and that is all.

I know that for a long time, this has been the ideal. People get married, then they have a child and a couple of years later, another child. Many are thrilled to get one of each: a son and a daughter. I know that when CoolGuy and I had our first two children, his coworkers were of that mind set that, now, we had it all: a son and a daughter. We had another daughter just sixteen months later, and there was a lot of good-natured kidding about "don't you know what causes that...". Then, we had two more kids --on purpose, just like the first three. Truly freakish behavior in the 70's and 80's among some of our peers. But, I'm so glad that we had multiple children, and I'm even more happy that I have siblings: plural.

I just enjoy knowing that there are several people in the world who have known me---all of me--for a really long time. Maybe part of it results from our nomadic married life. It's nice to have people in my life to whom I don't have to explain everything. We can communicate in shorthand. I also like having people in the world who accept me just as I am--they know my shortcomings; they don't care. I've just always been one of those people to whom they offer unconditional love, and still offer it. Families have codes and ours is no different. It's relaxing to be part of the in-group on those limited occasions when we gather. 

I also know that my sisters and I will always treat each other like --- well --- sisters. I know that I can just go to their houses, even if they are not home, and sleep over, or get a meal or whatever, and that is just fine. It goes both ways. When we were younger, and raising our children, if someone's child needed a surrogate mother for a few days--no problem---there was always one available. I sent off three missionaries via the auntie-connection. My college student children got invited to dinners and parties because those mothers were their mothers when needed. One of our family weddings is a mass gathering.

Mostly, though, I'd be lonely if I only had one other sibling. I really like being part of group. We were always referred to as the "------ Girls" and, even though it meant that some people didn't bother to distinguish me from my sisters by name, I was/am proud to be identified as part of that group. I appreciate their loyalty and their love. And we have two brothers, too---it all goes the same for them. Love all you guys!
Two of these are cousins and the final baby sister isn't in this photo,
but we were quite a group of girls.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Happy Birthday Daddy

Today is the 91st anniversary of my dad's birth. In a few more days, I'll be the same age he was when he died. It's been a whole lifetime for one of my sons since my dad passed away--literally. We went up to Wyoming to Daddy's funeral, and when I got back home to California, I went to the prenatal clinic and had confirmed why I'd been so tired the whole visit. Not that a major family passage like losing your father isn't a good enough reason. Our last child came to earth to live the same year my father left his earthly journey to go back to heaven. I know they knew one another, and I know that my dad delivered his wonderful spirit to us. So, it's easy to associate their lives together, even though they didn't cross paths here.

It's intriguing to realize, now that I'm the parent of adults, how little it matters to your mother-brain that your children no longer need you like they did when they were infants or little children. In  your parent brain, these people are still your "babies" and you haven't slacked off at all in the fierceness of your protective instinct. When it was the last week of my dad's life---and we all knew it--we talked on the phone. I was nine hundred miles away, but it was really important to him that I knew that he loved me deeply. He repeated that over and over. It was the only thing that he really needed me to know, actually. I did know it, of course; he was my dad. But, I realize that it was something I just assumed because he was my dad. But, at that point, when there was nothing left in his life but pain and death, it was all he could talk about to each of us. He never wanted us to forget.

It's been an interesting 30 years since he left us. He didn't really leave. Oh, his body died, relieving him of the burden that he'd carried for many years. We had the funeral, and we left that husk under the lilac tree, on the hill overlooking the place where he was born and lived, all but a few years of his life. We haven't been able to see him, or laugh with him, or watch him enjoy our children. But, his influence on us continued unchecked. He wasn't a well-educated person, but he urged all his children to get  as much education as we could, and there are a lot of college graduates who claim him as grandpa. He wasn't especially comfortable at church all of his life, but he lived the gospel of Jesus Christ as defined in the scriptures: doing good for others, caring for the poor and helpless, loving his neighbors. He's even occasionally "visited" us for special reasons. Each of us sisters can tell you of a very sacred event when we "heard" his voice, or felt his spirit, or knew he was watching over or caring for us. 

So on this occasion of remembering him for his birthday, I'd like to just remind myself that his example of fatherly love has been influential on how I show my parental love. His example of being a good person has been an incentive for me to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ as well as I can. See, just because someone isn't around in person anymore, doesn't limit their influence on those whom he loved and who loved him. I know I'll probably get to sit down and account for myself with him some day. I want to give a good report. He was always proud of me, and I want to always be worthy of that pride.

He is the little blondie on the lap of his grandfather, front row right. His parents are on the far left. The blonde girl on Dad's lap is his sister Margie.
I don't know how old he is in this photo, but his hair was still blonde.
This is a close-up from a school class photo. He is probably in 5th or 6th grade.
This is 1965 or 66--the one year we all lived together in the same house. The littlest sister was born in the summer before the oldest sister was a senior in high school.
This is the not-yet-sick grandpa playing with our oldest son in their living room, 1977.
This is May, 1982 in San Diego. Daddy had just given the name blessing for that baby at church.

This is the fall of 1982, when our youngest brother came home from his mission. In just six months, he'd lost a lot more weight and was much weaker. He lived about 15 more months. 

Sunday, February 09, 2014

I Loved Them, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah

This morning, I got a call from my sister. She would have been 16 when the Beatles made their debut on the Ed Sullivan Show. I would have been almost 11. She asked if I remembered coming out to the barn fifty years ago and telling her that it was time to come in and watch. No... I didn't remember that. She would have been helping to milk the cows on a cold winter night, and it was my job to go fetch her.

I remembered watching them, however. I guess that my mom knew she really wanted to see it, so apparently I was sent out to call my sister in when it got close to the time they'd appear. Everyone had heard about The Beatles being booked for the show that night. But, milking simply didn't stand still for things like Ed Sullivan. I'm surprised I wasn't out helping, too. But, maybe it was my turn to stay in. Or maybe Daddy was there to do it. It was a Sunday night, in the middle of February; he wouldn't have been doing much else except milking. Maybe both of my older sisters came in. I can't remember anyone in the living room but me, Mother and the sister who called me today.

She went on, asking if I remembered watching it. Oh yes. She laughed that she probably went along with Mother's opinion: they were so scruffy looking--what was the big deal anyway? She's a huge fan now--she credits her middle son with her conversion. But I remember going upstairs to my newly-created "room" (it was basically a corridor between the stair case and the big girls' room) and laying on the bed and thinking, "Wow. I really liked them!"

I was startled by all the screaming girls in the audience. I'm not sure I've ever screamed like that, for any reason, in my entire life. But, I could understand the enthusiasm that those screams represented. Their music was so good. They were cute! It's really silly now to think how I felt when I was 11, seeing them for the first time. It may very well have been the first time I heard them, too. I didn't listen to the kind of radio where they'd have been played when I was 11. I wasn't in charge of what got listened to at our house.

I remember buying my first Beatles album when I was in high school, though. It was "Let It Be" because that was the year I would have had any money at all to spend on something like that. They were as good as their reputation declared them to have been. When I got to college, one of my roommates had actually seen them perform in Los Angeles when she was in junior high. That was pretty awesome. By the time I was old enough, hip enough and had the money, they weren't a group anymore.

But, they did define music when I was starting into that time of life when everything is so intense and emotional. They were really good and I do remember knowing that the very first time I saw them play.

They appeared for three weeks in a row on Ed Sullivan in February. This video shows all three appearances.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Looking for the Warm

I know, I know...I didn't even wear a jacket outside today to direct traffic after school. But, it wasn't pleasant out there. It was---chilly. GASP! But, I live in a climate where we don't get chilly that much. And some of us don't like it when it happens, either.

Now, some complain about my complaining. They've lived here their whole lives.  They're tired of the hot weather that is a feature of summer in the desert. They LIKE winter here. They don't want to have it warm up. I've wondered why they don't move to another climate zone.  But maybe they have a job here, and family ties and --- there are lots of reasons to never move away from where you were born and raised.

 I, for one, do not complain about the summers here. I know it is going to get up over 100 degrees every single day (sometime waaaay over.) I know it is not going to cool off to less than 95 degrees at night. However, I just go swimming a lot. I stay indoors when it is scorching at noon. I plan ahead so that I can sometimes escape by heading north to the cooler climes of a higher altitude.

But, winter should be over now, down here in the Mojave. Bring on 70 degrees! We're ready! Most of my year is spent with very moderate temperatures. Most of my year never requires me to think about the weather. I like living that way. I'm ready for it again in 2014.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

What Does This Mean?

First, let me say that I was astounded to realize that I haven't written anything for a couple of weeks. I think of stuff, then I get home from school, or whatever, and forget to go write it down. But, I'll try to say something on a more regular basis.

My question refers to a realization I've had about my clothing lately, and I'm suspicious of the implications. See these pants:

They are from L.L. Bean and have become my new uniform. They are knit, but they are sturdy and don't look like sweat pants. They are slightly flared (boot cut) and fit snugly around my hips and thighs. Although the waist is elastic, it is a wide band, and isn't gathered at all. The waistband just sits comfortably on my body, without coming up under my armpits. (I have a short torso, with long legs.) They don't bag or sag or have thin, revealing fabric. In short, they are absolutely perfect!  So....I have a pair in dark green, black, brown, navy and gray. And I wear them every day of the week to school. They look very dressy with any top--a nice jacket, a sweater, a filmy blouse, a casual blouse. I can also wear them to yoga with a T-shirt. It's like dressing in pajamas and no one knows it.
They look good with my teensy shoe wardrobe. (There are no "cute" orthopedic shoes.) So, I can look professional, not wear jeans, and yet---be so comfortable that I FEEL LIKE I'M WEARING PJ'S!!
So....does this mean that I have--finally--become an official Old Lady??