I was born the third child of seven in a middle class family. My mother got sick shortly after I was born so I was passed around various family members for four years along with my older brother and sister until she was well enough to come and be our mother again.
When she finally made it home I was a stranger to her, but she desperately wanted to get to know me and so tried to make up for the four years she was gone. By that time, for me, it was too late. I was damaged. Insecure, shy, awkward and a geek was me. My brothers and sisters were sane and crazy and full of laughter and fun and I just managed to tag along on their star trails as they flew through my universe. How I wanted to be like them!
Sickly little me – I always seemed to be sick and because I never really knew who I was or that my mother wasn’t too busy to care for me, well, she actually was – when you have four babies (twins) inside of three years, she was crazy busy (she and dad wasted no time after she got home) so I never wanted to bother her when I got ill. I devised ways to feel better which I guess set the stage for what I do now, all these years later, healing is my tradition and I teach it to others.
I don’t know what I’d have become if my mother wasn’t out of my life in my first four years of being on this earth. I probably wouldn’t recognize myself! My family was closely bonded and my dad worked three jobs to feed and clothe all of us. I know he was tired but we never lacked for love in our home. Mom was always sick so dad worked to pay hospital and doctor bills. Still, she managed all seven of us and as my aunt would say, “you could eat off her floors!”
My older brother was a genius. He taught himself to be an electrical engineer by reading books and always held a steady job in his field. My sister Ann was gorgeous and so was married when she was 17. The twins, Lynne & Joan, were crazy clean freaks and still are. One never married and the other married a control freak and stayed with him til he died. Then she celebrated instead of mourned.
My two youngest brothers were real characters. When they were very young you never saw them standing up. They were always on the ground beating the crap out of each other. There was never a time that they were together that they weren’t wrestling or just plain beating the crap out of each other. We just ignored it cuz we couldn’t stop it. My youngest brother Chris used to wear a white plastic mixing bowl on his head when he was about two years old because he wanted to be a soldier. He carried around a wooden rifle (to this day we call him rifleman) and he’d shoot at all of us.
One day when all us kids were together, Chris walked into the room and asked, “Hey, where’s Hey?” We just all looked at him like it was the first time we’d ever seen him. I guess none of us had ever paid enough attention to the fact that he called my other brother Joe, “Hey.” Now Joe was the second youngest, the one that Chris always fought with and he was a character and is still to this day. So my oldest brother Ralph, the instigator, asked Chris while pointing to Joe in the corner – Chris had missed him and came looking for him – and Ralph said to Chris, “Who is that?” And Chris looked at Ralph like he was joking and trying to pull something over on him, and said, “That’s HEY!” We couldn’t believe it.
Some background on this. Joe was always in trouble so every time he would be doing something he shouldn’t, all of us would yell at him and it was always the same. We never used his name “Joe” because it was easier to use another three letter word – “Hey”. Whenever any of us yelled at Joe we called him Hey. Hey! Get out of there!!! Hey! Stop that!!! Hey! Beat it!!! Hey! Put that down!!!!
So naturally Chris thought Joe’s name was Hey. When Ralph asked Chris what that kid in the corner’s name was, Chris looked at him as though he were kidding and said, “That’s Hey! When Ralph (and we were all incredulously cracking up) explained that Joe’s name was actually Joe we will never forget the look on Chris’ face to learn that Hey was Joe. He even denied it and went to ask mom.
If you don’t find this funny then I guess you’d had to have been there.
The twins were just plain nuts. When they were very young they both sucked their thumbs and sat on the couch very early in the morning and bounced – actually rocked would be a better word – back and forth in a very synchronized move that had to be admired in its simplicity. Then they’d begin to argue and as they argued they got loud. They got so loud that Ralph gave them the name the Claxon Twins after the fog horns on ships.
Chris played a few instruments like the trumpet and the guitar. When he’d play the trumpet he’d always play it at 11:00 at night when we all went to try to sleep. No one could sleep until Chris was finished playing his trumpet. It got old. Ann got upset one night because she was tired so she grabbed a lemon and went upstairs and sucked on the lemon until Chris stopped playing. He couldn’t blow while watching Ann suck on a lemon. That does actually work!!
One morning we played “Taps” to wake up the boys. It was very early in the morning and they had kept everyone up really late with their carryings on. So we got even with them by playing “Taps” very very loud at around 6 a.m. That showed ’em!
These are just a few stories from when we were growing up in a large family. When I can think of more I’ll share them. Thanks for listening (reading).