Thursday, March 10, 2011

Grandma's, siblings and Nannies.

I have said before that I am the oldest of 12 children, this is true and I think that it is alot of the reason, I have determined, that I don't really know how to play. My mother was one of two children, she had one brother that was two years her junior. She may have wanted a sister, as a small child, I don't really know but as a teenager when a family moved in next door to her with 8 children she was in awe and wonder. She wanted that in her life. The family that moved in next door was my fathers family, he didn't still live a home but she meant him and things progressed to them being married and having children. They have now been married nearly 52 years.

I was the oldest child and my mother had had no experience with babies of any kind. My father taught her all she needed to know about babies, both my grandmothers help her out. My mother had given birth to 5 children by the time I was three and a half. One pregnancy had been a set of twin and one of the babies did not make it. She was, and is, an attentive mother but no one has time to do everything and when you have a house full of babies in diapers, the oldest one quickly get put to work at helping. My roll in my family has always been the same, helping to raise children. I didn't really learn to play as a child, oh, I had fun and played; but it was a secondary concept that still doesn't come to the forefront of my life often and I am not comfortable in that role. I can recall sitting on my grandmothers lap, with my two brothers, while my mother was at the hospital to have my sister, to this day she is my sister, I  have other sister but they are all a great deal younger, 10, 12, 14 and 41 years younger. My grandmother said, "where are we going to put another one" we all laughed as her lap really was all filled up with the three of us. My grandmother, Thelma, only lived another year almost to the day. She and my grandfather were killed in a car wreck, en route to my great grandfather's funeral. I can still remember her waving to us as we left her house the last time, we had gone to see her as I had thrown a fit to say goodbye to her before she left. I, in hindsight, am so glad I did as these are the only two memories I have of her.

My mother didn't do well after her mothers death, it having actually come very close on the heels of the twins dying. I believe in many ways she is still that lost child of 24 and hasn't grown a day older. She was, what in hindsight seems clear, clinically depressed for years, and on some levels still is, she and my father don't believe is depression so would have not sot help if she had know. She really relied more and more on us older children through the years. Soon after my grandmothers death she could no longer conceive so my parents adopt two boys, two years apart. One the exact ethnicity's we are, German, English and Irish, to this day he is not the one people guess as adopted if they find out some of us are adopted. The second boy was Anglo and African American, we loved him dearly but in the end there were complications and he wanted to go live with my uncle that was Somaoan and "like" him. My aunt and uncle did adopt him from my parents when he was 5 years old. My mother at this time had been able to conceive again and we had a new sister who was three years old, followed by a sister two years younger that her, and again two years later. There were 8 of us living children and believe me a houseful. More of the house hold duties were mine and, at 16, I got a 25 hours a week job as I went to school, to help out. My dad made good money but their were alot of us.

My other grandmother, Gladys,  and grandfather had moved to Samoa when I was 9 and 3/4 years old, just before my second sister was born. We missed them dearly, they were gone, 5 years, and when they came back, my aunt that is 5 years older than me brought back a Samoan husband, the ones that adopted my brother. My grandmother soon found out she had ovarian cancer. She was one of the strongest woman I ever knew. She was given a terminal diagnoses and 6 months to live, she had raised 8 children and couldn't stand to leave them or her husband. She lived 5+ years, and the last one was pure hell on this earth, I think she needed grandpa to know she couldn't stay for him anymore. He let her go after 42 years of marriage. He was lost, and a year later an old family friend married him, as his companion, to love and take care of him. I no longer had a grandmother, as I became an adult, and missed both. I missed their love and wisdom, that in some ways due to their early losses my mother has never learned. Oh, I love my mother and she is a great lady but to those who know her closely she does lack the true adultness and wisdom of a woman of her years. She is still a lost little girl. The year she turned 59 she and my father, 64, adopted a set of newborn triplets. They are wonderful parents to the girls, but they are no longer really able to give the time to their grand children and great grand children they need. No one has that much time and we make choices that are right for ourselves in this life. I do miss my folks, as do my children, my parents are there for us but on a much different level.

When I found out I was to be a grandmother, my mother still lived next to us, so knew, it would be confusing to be grandma and grandma who lived next door to one another. I chose Nannie and love being Nannie, to my grand kids and a string of other children. My grandmother Gladys would be so proud, I know she looks down from heaven with pride, and I am sure Thelma looks over her shoulder, they were good friends, and beams a smile. ....... tomorrow is another day.

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