The best thing my parents did for me was to give me 3 brothers and 2 sisters.
It was hard on Mom, I guarantee you, and not a whole lot easier on Dad.
Mom birthed all of us–and another son who lived only two or three days and was never named–in a 9 year period. Dad worked in the coal mines to put groceries on the table and shoes on our feet. Sometimes, he doubled back for another 8-hour shift because the money came in handy.
When Mom went to Heaven on June 2, as she approached her 96th birthday, she was surrounded by her remaining five children, all of us 70 years of age or above. (One has to wonder how that would feel, seeing all your children live to be old!) (Note: Dad died in 2007, and our youngest brother Charlie died 18 months earlier.)
Last week, the five of us met back at the rural Alabama farmhouse for the first time since Mom’s departure. On Thursday night, we had a dinner to celebrate the birthdays of oldest brother Ron and next-to-oldest brother Glenn. They were born 364 days apart.
I went up on Wednesday, taking Amtrak’s “The Crescent” from New Orleans to Birmingham. Youngest sister Carolyn and her husband Van met me there, and chauffeured me to the farmhouse, some 60 miles to the Northwest. (People sometimes ask, “So, what town did you grow up in?” I reply, “No town. Even though I tell people I’m from Nauvoo, Alabama, we lived 5 miles out from that. In the next county even.” It’s about as rural as it’s possible to get.)
Growing up, we thought of ourselves as far apart in age. But eventually, all six of us were in our 20s together, then our 30s, and so forth. When we were all in our 40s, I asked Mom if that made her feel old. “No, it’s not my problem,” she answered.
These days, we’re all peers. All but the girls are white-headed, and we know why they aren’t.
For the record, here is the “skinny” on each of the siblings….