At the age of seven, my mom called my sister and me into the bedroom for a little talk. The point of the conversation was to find out how we felt about having a new baby brother or sister. Well, I don't remember my sister's reaction, but mine was excitement. It just couldn't happen soon enough for me. I was very naive at that tender age and when one of my friends was visiting us, she noticed my mom ironing her maternity smock and asked directly if Mom was having a baby. What?? How did she know that private information!! LOL.
We moved into a new house the summer before the baby was to be born. It was the first house my parents purchased, rather than renting as had always been the case before. My parents were people of very limited means, and we had lived in some places which I'm sure were very difficult for my mother. As small children, my sister and I didn't really notice or care about our surroundings. When they first moved to Tulsa, I was about 2 and she was pregnant with my sister and they lived in a basement apartment. So dreary for her, I'm sure.
So we were all so proud and excited that Daddy had gotten a GI loan to buy the new house. We somehow thought that made it very important, but we didn't really understand why. Later, of course, I knew it was a special benefit for veterans and my Dad had certainly done his share in serving during WWII. The new house wasn't any bigger than the old one, but it was in a better neighborhood and already had a set of swings in the back yard which was left by the previous owner. The house also came with the best neighbors who lived behind us and also across the street. Actually, the neighborhood had many children we got to know, but Carol became my best friend, and Darlene who lived across the street was friends to both my sister and me. There was another family directly across the street and they were somewhat "strange." Judging from the dark house with all the blinds pulled and piles of stuff all over the house, it is now my impression that their mother may have been depressed or mentally ill. We had our ups and downs with the kids in this family and I distinctly remember letting the girl, Wava Joy, know that she wouldn't get the prize of holding my new baby if she didn't act right. And then, to our right across the street, there was a family with two boys. We had great times playing cars and softball with them and they returned the favor by playing house and grocery store with us. (James and I may have exchanged a few kisses in the cornfield out back of their house!)
Unfortunately, my brother's birth happened to coincide with my Dad being laid off from his job. It was a very hard time for our family, but as young children we were shielded from the knowledge of our parents' hardships. Until one evening while my mom was in the hospital having my brother, my sister and I were at home with Daddy and just before bedtime, I saw my Dad on the phone with his sister telling her about the baby, but I also heard him telling her of his loss of job. It was the first time I ever saw my Dad cry and it broke my heart. Thankfully, work did pick up later and he was able to go back to work and thankfully, a refund check from the IRS came in the mail. I saw my parents do some great rejoicing over that envelope!!
But, I am rambling. One reason for this sentimental blog, is I just learned that Tuesday was National Brother's Day. Very interesting in light of the fact that my aunt had brought some new/old pictures I had never seen, a few of which were my younger brother ... and also my sister.
This week's Hodgepodge (which I didn't participate in) asks the question of how we measure success. Upon reflection, I would have to say one way would be to look at a man such as my brother. In spite of serious challenges to his health and multiple other trials in his lifetime, he has stood the test of time. He is a godly man of integrity, an exemplary husband and father, a business success, an amazing friend, and, of course, my brother.
My Aunt Nancy and Uncle Gene
What a fantastic time we had visiting with Nancy and Gene. It was so good to see them. We sat outside enjoying the serenity of the afternoon talking about the past and the present while enjoying that yummy pound cake I made earlier that day. And I need to add here that my Uncle is another man by which you could measure success. He worked as a sack boy in a grocery store and went on to own his own store prior to being an executive in a major chain of stores. He and Nancy were married at a very young age. She was 16 and he must have been 17 or 18. They have raised three children, and are grand and great grandparents. For many years, they also helped to raise three of their grandchildren as their daughter was struggling to go to school and support her family as a single mom. She also is a success in different ways.
It is my belief that just about everyone around me ... in my family and my circle of friends ... are successes each in their own right. Their lives are not built on ambitious desires for themselves, but are all people with strong faith in God, good work ethics and a deep love and sense of responsibility to family. I think another measure of success is that successful people are givers! Giving of themselves, their energies, time, talent and gifts to help others. My parents were not wealthy, but they achieved more through their hardships than they probably ever thought they would, and stuck to their commitments. That is success.
So, on a fun note, I am adding this pic of my sister taken at my strict Great-Grandmother's home. This is another photo that my aunt brought with several others which I had never seen. In this pic, my sister looks so sweet, but maybe a little sad? When I sent her a copy and asked her about it, she says she thinks probably we were getting ready to watch some slides of our great-aunt and uncle's many vacations. They went on and on. Very boring! Oh yes, I do believe I had tried to erase those from my memory. It's funny that we both remember different things. That's why I enjoy having discussions with her about our past (although I do believe she may have shared with others some things that might better have been left in the secret memory bank). She will know what I am referring to when she reads this and I bet she will laugh out loud!
Such a sweet face.
Here she is with both her daughters!
They have sweet faces just like Mommy.