Getting To Know Me!

Today I”m going to share two facts and one quick story with you.

Fact #1: I have seven sisters, and three brothers total. Yes, that is a very large family, but it’s a ‘his, hers, and theirs’ sort of thing. Only one sister shares the same father and mother. I have a half brother from my mom; a half brother and a half sister from my dad. My mom got remarried when I was four? maybe five tops? My step father gave me three step sisters and a step brother. When I was ten years old, my father remarried, and my step mother gave me two more step sisters.

Fact #2: Since we’re on the topic of family, I’ll also share with you that I have 7 nephews and 4 nieces. I’ve tried counting all of my cousins, but I usually stop somewhere in the 4 or 500’s. No, I’m not joking or exaggerating in the least…my family is very close, and very extended, particularly on my mother’s side. My momma only had two brothers, but her parents were one of six and one of seven. My real dad was one of 8 children (the youngest, in fact, just like my momma was the youngest of three). I’m not even sure how many brothers and sisters  his parents had (I was born when he was already 40 years old, and my grandfather on that side died before I was born), but I can assure you it was a lot.

Story Time: Living With Extended Families & The Joy It Brought Me

I spent the vast majority of my childhood living in houses with lots of extended family. When you’re poor, or you’re family members are poor and need help, it just kind of happens that way. It’s actually a fairly common way to live in the south. When I was very young- between the ages of 6 and 10 I believe- I lived primarily with my momma, and I spent every other weekend, every other major holiday, and one full month out of the summer at my real daddy’s house. The house I lived in with my momma was actually my Mamaw’s house. (For those of  you who don’t understand the word, my ‘Mamaw’ was my momma’s momma.) It was a gorgeous, large four bedroom house, with two bathrooms, a formal dinning room, kitchen, and living room. It sat on four city blocks, and we had a huge front yard covered in beautiful plants and flowers. The backyard had an Olympic sized swimming pool, a trampoline, swing set, and a small square area we used as our ‘ball field.’ I know, it sounds a though we were rich, but the reality is that my grandparent’s raised my momma and her brothers in that house, and gradually added on to it little by little. I’m not sure if it was just before or just after my Papaw died (in 1993) that my Mamaw had the house refinished. The trampoline and swing set I believe dated back to my older brother, Kenny’s childhood (he’s 8 years my senior). The swimming pool was put in sometime around ’96 or ’97. Sure, the bills were high, but there were a lot of us living there to pitch in. My momma and step daddy slept in the front bedroom, and occasionally my cousin Ashlee would sleep in their room- or else in the room shared by my Mamaw and her older sister, Aunt Sue. My sister (brandi), my cousin (Barbie), and myself shared another bedroom, and my brother and usually a goodly number of his friends slept in the last bedroom. It sounds crowded, but I don’t remember it being that way in the least.I remember it being a house filled with good food, good people, a lot of love, and a lot of laughter. When I stayed with my real daddy, it was much the same thing, but on a smaller scale. He lived in my Grandma Dorothy’s house, which was a three bedroom trailer with two bathrooms, a kitchen, and a living room. There was also a very large screened in porch, and it sat on a huge farm. My Uncle Robert and his wife, Patty, had another trailer on the farm. In our trailer, Grandma Dorothy had one room, and another room was taken by her older brother, Clivel, who had to be taken care of since he was senile and shell-shocked from the war. I can’t help but laugh thinking about Uncle Clivel standing out in the middle of the farm and pointing out towards the pasture, talking about the people “over yonder, what were comin’ this way.” He was funny, but sometimes a little scary. He was a huge man, after all, easily a few inches over six foot tall. When he had those spells I just wrote out for you, my Grandma Dorothy would say, “That crazy old cook. He’s so old he doesn’t know what’s going on anymore.” But, like my Grandmother always did, the words were soft and friendly anyways. I should mention my Grandma was in her eighties herself. The last bedroom, by the way, was shared by me, Brandi, and my real daddy. He had a bunk bed in the room that the three of us shared, although admittedly, I rarely spent anytime indoors while living on the farm. Those years were certainly some of the best, for in my teenage years, things quickly fell apart- when I was 10, my Mamaw passed away. When I was 13, my Grandma Dorothy passed away. Uncle Clivel was put in an old folks home, and he has since passed away. Aunt Sue moved to Tennesse with Ashlee…Barbie moved away to Tampa…even my closest sister, Brandi, has moved away from where I am today, and I see her on an occasionally basis. Even my dear, sweet momma, who filled our house with her deep laughter and good cooking, has passed on. Yet I always remember those ‘crowded’ days with warm smiles and a tear in my eye.


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