With the holiday season having just ended and a New Year starting, I have been thinking about my family, and how very fortunate I am.
I thought I might do a short Bio on each of my children, then realized that to do it I would really have to start with my siblings, the younger whom I was mostly responsible for raising, and a quick look at the older.
I was the middle of seven. Three older and three younger, and two separate families, actually.
The oldest is my brother, Mac, named after our Father, obviously. Still going strong at 66, he is an educator, he developed, and still steers an awareness, acceptance program for Native American youth. Called NIYLP, Native Indian Youth Leadership Program. He has done this program for close to 40 years, won many National/International awards and Grants, and has satellite programs in most of the US and some other countries, including Canada, Russia, and Tibet.
My sister Cindy, 65, has just finished a series of surgeries for Diverticulosis (sp?). Hopefully she is healing well and will be able to make a trip to visit in the Spring.
My sister Melissa, whom my daughter is named after, died at 29 in an automobile accident. So I can never picture how she would be now, at 64 years old. I only see her as she was, but remember her very clearly and lovingly.
We'll skip over Gail, the middle kid, for now.
My first younger brother was born when I was around 6, but I never could figure out why my mother kept having children when she had such a problem taking care of them. I learned how to change diapers, dress babies and feed them at a very young age, basically ending most childhood freedoms. However, I loved them dearly, I guess sort of like *living* doll babies, but much more involved, especially when you add in almost all the housework and cooking for several.
His name was Edgar, or Eddie, or Ed. He died at 55 of alcohol poisoning when his organs started failing. Such a sad loss! He was a particularly entertaining and hilarious person, very talented and a Professional Chef. From doing a lot of psychological reading and study, I now understand that some very talented people, especially comedians, have very little understanding of self-protection and frequently turn to substance abuse. What a loss! He did manage to marry and have a child though. My nephew is 29 and will become a father this year! I wish my brother would have been able to see his first Grandchild.
My second younger brother was born two years later and named Jeffrey. He is gay, which I was able to tell from the time he was a very young child, maybe even as a Toddler. He is wonderful and is my daughter's Godfather. Jeff had a partner, named Jon whom he was with over 20 years. Jon died of brain cancer a couple of years ago so Jeff moved here to Washington State after both Ed and Jon died, since the only family left in California was our nephew Jason. I'm so happy he is with us again!
Finally, now, my sister Parlayna, Layna to me. She was born when I was a very young teen, and by then, might as well have been my own child. She was such a sweet, beautiful baby and grew into a beautiful, loving adult, who has lived with or near me, all her life.
Teeny bit about me.
Her Father, my stepfather, was NOT a nice man, and I was terribly abused by him, in all ways. The older siblings left as soon as they were able, but I felt compelled to take care of the younger ones and I stayed until I was 18 and nearly graduated from high school. When I was a Senior in high school and halfway through the year, my family expected me to move with them. As close as I was to graduating and since I had a job, I refused and got a small duplex to live in. When I moved out, I took my little sister! I raised her to her teens before she left and went back to her parents. I was so afraid she would be subjected to the same abuses, but apparently, to her father, she wasn't the same as a stepdaughter and he was very good to her.
None of our parents are living now, so my brother, sister and I are the family Elders. But since Mac and Cindy have never lived close, it's mostly me! I was the one who held all the family gatherings, gave the best advice I could over the years, and I like to think I helped to teach them all, including my biological children, how to be a close and loving family that benefits us all.
I ended up being married and divorced twice, with 4 children whom I raised alone. So, after Layna's story, which will be next, I will write one of each of my children: Aaron, Joseph, Gabriel, and Melissa.
I hope whoever reads this will stay tuned for the others. This is a good writing exercise for me, and a tribute to a wonderful group of people, each of whom, in their own way, has blessed my life in so many ways. I will put a picture of each with their bios, since I am very proud of them and think they are wonderful and beautiful, in my eyes.