Today is my mother’s birthday. She is 88 years old, and has lived a hard life, but she keeps hanging on. I truly believe that is all that she is doing is just hanging on.

My family has never been on that could be considered anywhere NEAR a close family. I am closer to some of my aunts and cousins than to my own siblings. That is a long story that I’m going to keep to myself for a bit longer. Both of my brothers are much older than me. Well, I say much, but the youngest of my two brothers is 5 years older than me. That’s enough that I had to tolerate all the years of being compared to him and how well he did in school, how he never got into trouble, how perfect he was, because he was a boy! Yep, that’s what I said. Because he was a boy!

That was an actual reason given to me by my  parents when I asked to do something that he had been allowed to do at either the same age I was at the time, or even earlier! He was a straight A student in school, without even putting forth any effort. I was a struggler, and definitely defiant! My brother could do no wrong in my parents eyes, or anyone else’s for that matter! I, on the other hand, was known as the family trouble maker. I was blamed for all of the problems my family had, and I do mean all of them!

Like I said, we were not a close family. My oldest brother disappeared from the family when I was a child of about 6 or 7 years old. He was in the Air Force when I was born. I’m not exactly sure, but I believe he is about 20 years older than me.  My earliest memory of him was right before he pulled his disappearing act when he gave me a dog.

We were living in Phoenix, AZ at the time and my father was a carpenter. He traveled all over Arizona building houses for Jim Walter Homes. He built quite a few in the mountains of Arizona.  Typically, if he was somewhere north, in the mountains, we would travel to where he was for the weekend. He had a very small travel trailer that he stayed in, and we stayed in when we went to visit. This trailer was so small that he had to build in a bunk bed over the master bed for me to sleep in. My brother got to sleep on the floor. The only reason I got the bunk was because he was too heavy to climb up and sleep on a flimsy piece of plywood covered by a maybe 2 inch piece of foam.

Anyway, on one of these trips, my oldest brother came to visit us. He brought with him the most beautiful dog I have ever seen. He was an Irish Setter. I don’t know how the decision was made, but I ended up with the dog. My brother had bought two and could only keep one in his apartment so that was the excuse he gave my parents. I’m sure it didn’t go over easy with them. But, no matter, I got the dog. His name was Mutt, but he was most definitely no mutt. He was still a puppy at the time.

Mutt ended up being my lifeline for so long. I had a few friends when we lived in Phx., but these were childhood friendships and they don’t typically last very long, especially when one of you moves away! The summer between my 5th and 6th grade year of school, we moved back to Texas. My father had come to Texas many months before us, “looking for work”. There is another long story there as well, which I may share at a later date.

Anyway, we came to Texas. I was so upset at leaving my few friends and the comfort of familiarity I had with our house and my school in Phoenix, but I was just a child, and a girl at that!! I never got to ride in the front seat of the car the entire trip!! When we made it to Texas, east Texas actually, we went to my mothers home town, where some of her siblings lived. I remember staying at various aunts and uncles and had no clue as to why at the time. Now I know though that my mother was having a difficult time locating my father!

Anyway, once she located him, and life started to get back to normal, or at least normal for us, they bought a small piece of property and my father was going to build us a house! Meanwhile, we would live in…….the tiny travel trailer!! Boy, oh boy, was that fun! My brother and I were ready to kill each other almost every day! I tried to spend as much time as possible outside, in the woods exploring.

I loved living in the woods. I could go somewhere way out in the woods, far from where we lived, and play, and pretend. I would pretend I was a very rich girl who lived in a huge house, so large that my brother, on the days I pretended he could live with us, lived on the opposite end of the house, and I never had to see him! Many times I just pretended that I wouldn’t let him live with me in my mansion.

One of the main things I remember about my childhood, is the fact that my parents NEVER took us to church. I don’t recall ever even seeing  my parents in a church unless someone was getting married or there was a funeral. They used God’s name in vain on a regular basis. They NEVER prayed, at least not that I was aware of. We never said Grace before a meal at holidays or anything like that. We also never really  made any holidays special. Thanksgiving was just a day that my mother would cook chicken and dressing, mashed potatoes, giblet gravy, usually green beans, and rolls. Sometimes there might be another vegetable in there. But there was no focus on family time. We would sit down and eat, my father would finish and go sit in his chair to watch football, or wrestling, or whatever else he could find, and then proceed to sleep through it. The only time the television was ever turned off in our house, was when my father was asleep, in his room.

I kind of got off my point there, but my parents never indicated an importance of family ties or connections. I had cousins that I had never met, even though I was a young teenager and they lived maybe an hour away! Oh, there was the occasional “family reunion” at our house where my mother’s family would come and we would eat, and I usually ended up playing by myself because all the other kids were either much older, or much younger than me. So, I spent a lot of time alone. But, these reunions didn’t start happening until I was about 12 or 13. So, there were lots of family members I did not know! Yep, not much closeness in our family.

There is so much more to this story, but I will stop here for now. I will share more at a later date.


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