Thankful for My First Family

I grew up in a home full of love. My parents loved each other. Their relationship and marriage were one of the most important parts of their and us, their kids,’ lives. Our family’s health and happiness were also very important. Our parents had been through their own personal hardships and losses during their childhoods and planned that their children were going to have a good loving home.

“Their children” included me, I was the first. My sister, D, was born two years later. My brother, J, was born when I was 6. Then my youngest sister, B, was born when I was 12.

Our mother stayed home to raise us kids. Our father worked several different jobs at different times to support us. He drove a bus for his father’s bus line; sold encyclopedias and I believe vacuum cleaners; worked in the hardware department of Sears; taught in a local flight school and was a commercial pilot.

Moma Scan at 27
Moma at 27
Moma, Daddy and I at 2 years old (1953?)
Moma, Daddy and I at 2 years old (1953?)

As we were growing up our parents always somehow made our Christmases wonderful and very happy. Sometimes our mother sewed clothes for our dolls that could rival the clothes found in the stores. We always had enough and more of what we needed while I was growing up. After my grandfather died Daddy inherited a lot of property with which he was able to support us.

Since we only had one car until then we rode the bus to visit one grandmother, go downtown for a movie or to shop at Woolworth’s, Belk, or the dime store. We also went to the library many times especially after some of us were old enough to read. Our other grandmother would come visit us too.

After we kids married and moved off, except for our brother, who stayed to help our parents, Moma and Daddy took at least one or two trips to Hawaii and here is a picture of them on their trip.

Moma and Daddy in 1989, Moma at 65, Daddy at 71
Moma and Daddy in 1989, Moma at 65, Daddy at 71

But the most beautiful thing our parents taught us was what love was.

Some of my fondest memories were of our mother playing the piano while we listened. Then she played some of the old songs from the World War II era like: “Peg of My Heart”, “Five Foot Two”, “She’ll Be Coming Around the Mountain,” and so many other songs we all learned as well.

She learned how to play by playing for her father, a choir director in church. Nothing got us together faster than hearing Moma playing the piano. We loved to sing together, standing around her on the piano bench. Daddy always said he never could sing or play anything but the radio. But he always sat nearby and listened with great pride as his family sang together.

Singing was not the only thing we did together. Daddy always said we were part gypsy because we all loved to go on trips of varying lengths. Often on Sundays we all piled into the car and Daddy drove us to the mountains from Greenville, South Carolina. Sometimes we rode all the way to Asheville or Brevard after church.

Later when they could afford it they bought a travel trailer. We four kids loved to travel as much as Daddy and Moma did. In that trailer with no air conditioning, we once went to Mexico City, Mexico in July or August when I was 16.

My younger sister and I shared the bunk over the dining table. I still remember the two windows each about 16 inches by 5 inches. One window at our feet and one at our heads. That window was the only source of fresh air that night! We literally slept in our own sweat!

But the amazing things we saw during the days made it all worthwhile: the pyramids near Mexico City, the floating garden islands of Xochimilco. People floated in long boats with their wares calling out to us offering orchids, stole corsages, and other handmade items.

We saw Mexico Folklorico, which was a lovely performance of folk dancing in bright colored costumes. But it wasn’t just the sights we enjoyed. It was the feeling of being part of a loving, wonderful family with loving parents who took good care of us and were driven to give us a good education.

Education, to them, included traveling, reading, going to historic places, cooking, eating, cleaning up after meals, showering in a space less than the size of a bathroom on a jet. Daddy had a degree in engineering and or teaching. He was a constant source of knowledge and wisdom.

One of the most important experiences we shared was growing up in the church together. Daddy was never more happy than he was sitting on the church pew with his family around him. We also prayed before meals and learned about God together. Our first church was First Presbyterian Church. We all sang in the church choirs, went to church camps, choir camps, and enjoyed the events for the youth of the church. We were part of the church family.

But though we all grew older and had to get a bigger car we all enjoyed traveling, because we were loved doing things together. We sang in the car while Moma led us: played the alphabet game; entertained the younger siblings when they were young; and saw amazing sights just from the windows of the cars.

With Daddy having been a bus driver for his father he was a very good driver and taught each of us how to drive with a stick shift. He was the epitome of patience.

Our mother was loving mother to us all. With her nurse’s training she probably saved each of our lives at some point. She just always seemed to know what to do or got us to the doctor as quickly as possible. She got my younger sister and I through Mumps, Measles, Strep Throat, Chicken Pox and the usual viruses kids pick up in school and come home and share with the other kids.

She also taught us sisters how to sew, embroider, cook, clean house and iron clothes. She was a beautiful woman who loved our father. And our father adored her. She also taught my sister, brother and I to play the piano at least for one or two years. I think our youngest sister took piano and violin at school.

The beauty of our family though was not just in the things that we did together. But through shared experiences they taught us what love was. Especially about God’s love and then how we should love each other, God and others.

Each of my siblings are good, hard working people. We are all in different states now but stay in touch. Mother and Daddy passed away years ago. Aunt Helen lived to be 93. But each of us kids frequently connect on Facebook and speak of something we all experienced as children and how great our parents were.

Three sisters, aunt and brother.
The Three remaining Theodore sisters and the only brother and Daddy’s sister, our Aunt.

3 thoughts on “Thankful for My First Family

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