No life story, can begin without first considering your own family. Who were your parents? Who were their parents? Did they have brothers and sisters? Do you? Who’s in your extended family? Those who will read your story will want to know.

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I wanted to include a very personal note here about who my immediate family was. My parents married young. I believe my mother married my father, simply because she was pregnant. There, I said it. Most people won’t be shocked by that statement, because it is true for many older generations. I may be wrong, but all things considered, I don’t believe I am. I think she loved him once. After their divorce, after 18 long years of marriage, she said she just pitied him.

I’ve been thinking about this all day, today. Anthony and I drove Craigie to school early this morning, as we have so many mornings, but today, it was different. We passed the little old cemetery on the left that I played in as a young girl and I smiled, then I caught a glimpse of, one of the many old houses that we once lived in on Elk Creek road, and it was being torn down; excavating trucks were everywhere. Anthony laughed and said, “A lot of old memory’s there.” This was so true… Some good – Some bad.

I would tell him a little story that would come to mind, every time we drove by the old place. I remember having a pretty little white Shetland pony named, Peaches. We kept her tied to the outhouse – that’s right, no indoor plumbing – this was Ohio. Mom bought her to keep us kids happy and entertained while she worked. Dad really wasn’t around much then.

I seemed to have more bad memories tied to the old place than good ones, but still so vivid in my mind, as if it were yesterday.

I remember my Mom worked at lot at that time and my then soon-to-be-brother-in-law being so mean to my younger brother, just so mean. He would put him on the roof and throw rocks at him. My brother was maybe 6 or 7 at the time (elementary school) and small for his age. My not yet brother-in-law would tie him to the clothes line and throw even more rocks and just laugh. I’m really not sure how he got away with that??? That was just the kind of guy he was. Don’t ask me how my sister could let him do that while she babysat us, but she did. She was young herself at the time, I guess. No idea really, I still say, it’s why my brother turned out like he did. We all need some excuse.

I know… too much information, but this is what makes a family.

We always wonder why people act the way they do and/or why they will go for years without speaking. We try to tell them to just get over it, but some wounds are just too deep. I never lecture people on why they should forgive family or friends, because I never know what went on 50 years ago, things they can’t forget.

I called my uncle Jim last night for some family information and made a quick comment about another relative I wanted to reach, one I really like. He said, “oh, he’s a phony! You just had to know him growing up.” Well that wouldn’t be possible, but thru my research I’d like to get to know him. In the conversations I’ve had with him, he was so nice. I guess this is that walk a mile in my shoes kind of speech. Its also why I shared a little bit about my childhood.

No life story is all wine and roses… there are many thorns, but you must always take the time to stop and smell the roses. We can’t go back and change the past, it makes us who are and what we are; we build on and from our past experiences. I can’t think of a better way to do that, than to go ahead and write it all down. The things of which, we hold an emotional tie, are the things that make us a family.

That same younger brother stabbed me with an ink pen in the forearm for beating him at a game of cards when we were pre-teens. I still have the scar, but he saved me from drowning in our swimming pool when my middle sister, knowing that I couldn’t swim, pulled me away from the edge and walked away. My mom couldn’t swim either, so she had my younger brother go in after me. I remember standing at the bottom of the pool and looking up at my Mom screaming, but I didn’t panic until I saw it was him and he was smaller than me, I almost drown him while he was trying to save me. So I don’t hold that stabbing against him.

We try so hard to forget these things ever happened and/or laugh about them at the family reunions. Family members will ask others to help them hid all of their skeletons, but I still say it’s what makes us human and personable.

Always be truthful about the events in your life and then write them down so that your children and your grandchildren will relate to you on an entirely different level…. A real person and not just the name and date on your headstone. I may have shared more than I should have here, from time to time, but hopefully my children will remember these things and share it with their children. I would love to think that my great-grandchildren will someday read my stories and say, Wow… I fell like I really know my Grandma by the stories that she told.

It would be far better to have heard the story straight from my mouth; to remember that I lived. I really lived! It’s not my place to share the stories of my aunts and uncles, grandparents and all the extended family members, it is theirs.

Once they’re gone, then the stories are gone. So where do we put these stories? diary? blog? back of a family genealogy worksheet? Or in the hearts and hands of the family we effect? Tell our own stories. Don’t leave out any details’ good, bad and even boring, our future depends on it.

I forgot, I also have a huge scar on the back of my leg from a make-shift swing, hanging from an old tree, that my younger brother and I concocted by the creek next our old house on Aljen, when we lived next door to Mr. and Mrs. Back (Mom’s relatives) in Poasttown.

That house had a lot of apple trees (from which, mom made her own applesauce), huge lilac bushes and a strawberry field behind the house. She also made the three of us girls, all matching dark blue dresses for school pictures that year.

My younger brother drove dads old pickup truck through the garage door (the same garage we used to fatten up our Thanksgiving Turkey in and my dad trained a German Shepherd pup to be mean for his old black buddy). Since dad really didn’t discipline Robert, I can’t remember the punishment.

We had two horses, while we lived in that house, and a fat old yellow cat that they gave to my uncle Lee to take back to Ky with him, after he recouped the first time from a gun shot wound, after his wife’s shot him with a shotgun. The cat tore him up, jumped out the car window and three days later, showed back up to the house.

Our female horse was named Dolly, she was gentle big and brown, but our Paint a male named Tony, ran off all the time. It was our job to go down the road and fetch him. He bite me on the back of my leg once while rising with my sister Sharon. I have a scar from that too.

Once at that same house, while being chased around the outside of our house by both my brothers, in a game of tag, I fell on a board; knocked all my front teeth out. This was very evident in my school picture, where this towhead was smiling toothlessly from ear to ear, and wearing that little dark blue floral matching dress that my mother made.

The local church brought us all Christmas presents that year. I got a Barbie doll and a box of 72 crayons. I still think that box of crayons has been my all time favorite gift and my younger brother Robert got a “ride on brown bear” toy. It was for me, just another sad – crazy – wonderful year, among many.

Those were the days.

PS: My dad called me “Fat Cat” my entire childhood… no idea why. And he only had his picture made with me, none of the others kids. Weird? My aunt Mary Sue always says that I look like Grandma Phebie when she was younger. That may have played a part. Except Grandma was a tiny little lady like my sister Sharon, with red hair and a teeny little pot belly.

I love my family!

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I always felt that the great privilege, relief, and comfort of friendship was that one had to explain nothing. ~ Katherine Mansfield

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