My Amazing and Beautiful Large Family: The Values We Were Taught and Accomplishments Made
I have written before about "What you learn growing up in a large family" and about taking care of my dad and my mom as well in their elder years. Today I am sharing some poignant memories of my childhood and the good values taught and maintained in my family.
Dad who taught us to cook, clean, do house repairs and help others
My dad was one of six children and he had one sister and four brothers. He was the youngest boy. His father passed on early and his mom and older brothers helped care for him. All of his brothers served in the armed forces and he served in the National Guard. My uncles fought in the second world war. My uncle Joe was a volunteer fire fighter and loved to dance. My dad also learned to dance and met my mom at a dance in the 50's. They met "across a crowded room". Mom said dad was shy but she smiled at him and encouraged him. She felt he would be a good husband and provider and he was.
Dad and Mom married in 1959 and had their first child in 1960, Bobby. They lived in an apartment and then in 1961 moved into a house. Dad became a letter carrier in the US Post Office and later a Supervisor. Mom had been a secretary and then became mother of 10 children. My parents had 5 boys and 5 girls, and it went boy girl boy girl all the way down to me.
We were not the Brady Bunch, but we learned to help each other and to care about people. When I was young, I remember we scraped shutters and painted them, and learned to putty windows which I thought was kinda fun actually. I wanted to be a carpenter when I was ten, seeing my brothers help build a new porch and shed in the yard.
Dad knew how to fix cars as well as the TV. My brothers learned to fix things as well. Bobby took electronics and also learned plumbing. John taught himself to fix cars. Wally currently fixes things at work.
Growing up with my Mom
My mother taught us to pray. I remember when I was little my sister Cath and I would spend lots of time with my mother going to church and praying the rosary. My mom also used to take all of us to New York to a local Marian site. We went on spiritual retreats and read a lot of Catholic books about the lives of the saints.
Cath joined a convent at about age 19. I lived in KY with a family there for less than a year near Cath and we both attended Latin Mass. Later Cath departed from the convent life and got married and had two children, Julieanne (her name at the convent was Sr. Julianna) and Andrew.
The faith I was raised with stays with me to this day. My other sisters Mary, Louise and Joan also have strong faith. I think most of my brothers have faith as well. I talk to them about it at times, and see them at church.
Joe has carried on dad's teaching of helping others by volunteering at his college and helping them establish a healthy food bank for the students. He has always been good with advice over the years, as well as Bill and quick to answer the phone. Bobby continues to come by and fix things for my Mom and Wally visits often to play chess with her.
Dad needed a lot of care the last three years of his life, and all of us were able to help him in various ways. Joan and Louise were nurses to help out. Mary came and spent time visiting and encouraging dad as well. Catherine went shopping for food, and I spent a lot of time keeping dad company.
Dad had two additions put on the house years ago, to provide plenty of bedrooms for us to be comfortable. He worked hard to provide financially and Mom did not have to work, but chose to later on to be a waitress for awhile and helped us out that way.
Dad retired but never gave up his morning paper route until age 79. He got his daily exercise that way. Mom is still walking a lot as she used to take us for 5 mile walks when we were little to "tire us out"! Ha! She told me that when she was raising us kids, before I was born, (she had one child every year), she didn't have time to eat until dad got home from work, so she would eat a raw egg quickly.
Back then, I guess there was no salmonella. My sister Mary was a waitress and used to bring home Friendly's ice cream which I loved. I loved also going to Paragon Park in Hull, MA at Nantasket Beach. The top photo was taken there as we went there very often as well as vacationed in New Hampshire and other places.
Above is Kyle, Joan's son who is now 13. Grandchildren bring much joy and now my Mom has 8 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren. I love spending time with the newest babies Jason, Kayla (who I can't wait to meet!), Julian, and Arya.
Last of all but not least, I can say, with my struggles over the years, my sisters and brothers have always been able to help me; Joan with encouraging words, and Louise and Mary as well with prayers and words, Cath swapping stories; and my brothers visiting Bobby and the others; Joe and Bill answering my many questions about car trouble and other things; Wally being my walking buddy and confidante, and John who fixed my car and hung out playing pool. But above all, my Mom has been a close friend who praises me and prays for me and with me everyday.
I have also got support from my niece Rachel many times, who now has twins; and I have enjoyed keeping in touch with and spending time with my other nieces/nephews: Mark, James, Matt, Bella who is so creative and sweet, Kyle who is now playing football!, and of course seeing Julie and Andrew. Julie collects build a bears and Andrew is a sweet kid.
I am grateful and thankful for all the support over the years from my family~ Thank you all. What would I have done without you?