Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Being the Baby

Yesterday I wrote about my brother Tim and it drew my thoughts to my family. As I said yesterday, my brother Tim would have been fifty-eight this year and it blows my mind that he would be that age now, since I always remember him in his forties, which was when he died. I come from a rather big family. I am “the baby” as we used to say back home. I am the youngest of my parents’ kids. I have another brother and four sisters. All of them are much closer in age and I was born quite a few years later.

My brother Tim was the second child after my eldest sister. They were only a year apart. My mother was in her late teens when she married, so this is how it worked out that I had siblings who are quite a bit older than me. I used to work in a pharmacy years back when I was about nineteen. We lived in a small town so everybody knew everybody. And many times I would have customers who would come through the line and see a family resemblance that I don’t see. (smile) They would usually be former classmates of my eldest brother and sister and they would always ask which one of them was my parent. I would have to tell them that neither one was my parent and that actually I was their little sister. They would always say, “I didn’t ever know about you. I thought that youngest boy was the last one. Where did you come from?” Now what was I supposed to say to that? (laugh) It could’ve given me a complex or something, but I just usually shrugged it off and laughed and said something like, “Well I guess the stork dropped me when you weren’t looking.” I used to tell my sister all the time that someone else thought I was her kid and she would say, “Now those folks know that I wasn’t pregnant back then.” And we would laugh about it.

So it has always just been one of those things in my life…people thinking that one of my siblings is my parent. (laugh) My mom used to laugh and say to me, “Well since everybody thinks you are one of theirs I guess that you should start calling me Granny.”

My siblings came like this: sister, my brother Tim, sister, brother (stillborn), sister, sister, and brother. And then I came quite a few years after my last brother. I am more of a contemporary of some of their kids age-wise, so my older nieces and nephews seem more like cousins to me. I grew up with them. My eldest niece is only five years younger than me. It’s kinda cool.

In writing about all of this, I had a thought about my mother. She was made of some strong stuff, because she had to endure the death of two children. As the saying always goes, no parent should have to bury their child. I just think about the fact that she had one of my brother’s stillborn and then she buried my other brother. I know that many mothers and fathers bury their children everyday under terrible circumstances and it just must be excruciating. I see all of the terrible tragedies of the world on the news with parents losing their children and it just breaks your heart for them. Burying a child, no matter the circumstances, is just so antithetical to nature.

So anyway, that’s my story of being the baby. Incidentally, Brit Boy is the baby of his family too, although his is less than half the size of mine. So Brit Boy and I are in solidarity with the baby thing. We always joke that hey, our respective families simply saved the best for last. (laugh) Just kidding. Although I think that Brit Boy and I both came last because we like to arrive fashionably late. (smile)

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