The prompt for this week’s 52 Ancestors challenge is “Large Family.” Oh boy, can I relate to that one!!
Both my parents came from small families. My dad had one sibling, my Aunt Jessica. His parents also had only one sibling each. A little unusual in the early 1900s. My mom was an only child. Her dad had one sibling and her mom had two.
My parents, on the other hand, made it their mission to rectify that situation! Together, they had four daughters. My mother claimed she wanted a large family because she “didn’t want to be lonely ever again.” I don’t know what my father’s motivation was, but there was a clear plan. They married in 1953 and the plan was to have two children in two years. Check! I was born in 1955 and my sister in 1956. Then have two more after that. Check! Daughters born in 1958 and 1961 accomplished that task. And then it fell apart.
A few weeks ago I wrote about my parents’ divorce. My mother was faced with raising four girls between the ages of 1 and 7. Then she met Al Falcone (It’s a sweet story, really. One for a future post!) Al was separated from his wife. They had three children.
Within a few years, my mom and Al had a son. I had a brother!!! My mother finally got her boy!! Now there were five kids living in the 1950s ranch house built with a family of four in mind.
On Sundays, when my step-brother and sisters came over, there were eight of us. I really don’t think of them as steps (nor my brother as a half-sibling) WE ARE ONE FAMILY!
My father remarried and had another daughter in 1971. (Guess he didn’t possess any Y chromosomes, much to his mother’s great dismay.) That marriage ended shortly after his fifth daughter was born. His third marriage was to a woman who already had one son. After some time, Dad and Valerie decided to adopt, eventually adding three more twigs to my ever-expanding bramble-bush of siblings. You might think I would have said “thorns.” To be completely honest, it was quite difficult to understand why my father would adopt when he already had five children he was basically ignoring. But, that’s a reflection on him and not the kids! To his credit, he reached out to us in his 75th year which was somewhat healing. Since his passing in 2008, our Canadian “twigs” have remained in contact. We might even be closer than we were when our parents were alive!!
Meg’s wedding 2014 – a good example of the bramblebush!!
But wait! there’s more!
In case you’ve lost count, between all the sibs, steps, etc., I have 12 siblings.
To keep things interesting, I married a man who also came from a blended family. Scott’s parents had five children. After the death of his mother, when he was only three years old, his father married a woman who had two children. There was a 17 year difference between the oldest son, Bill, and Scott, the youngest of the seven.
At our wedding I distinctly remember the photographer struggling a bit with the challenge of photographing my large family, then Scott’s large family, which by then had grown to include spouses, nieces and nephews. I don’t think we even attempted a combo shot of the merged families!!
Because my family was so small, I had very few cousins. Scott never really knew his cousins since there was no real contact after the death of his mother.
Our two girls however, have a plethora of cousins! 16 grandchildren on their Dad’s side and 11 on their Mom’s side!! I’d say that qualifies as a large family.
Recent family events have reminded us how wonderful large families are. Plus, I really need to brag here. You might think, with this many personalities, there would be a lot of family drama. To my constant amazement there is actually very little conflict. I can truly say that, no matter what, every member of our wonderfully diverse family accepts and supports each other.
Kudos to Mom, Dad, Alfie, June, Debbie, Valerie, Sandra, Bill, Jeanne, and Dorothy! What a legacy you have created!