I was the oldest of six children, but it didn't really seem like a big family. My sister Norma Jean is two-and-a-half years younger than me, and we pretty much grew up together. PJ was not born until I was seven, and the other three were born in close succession starting when I was sixteen. So in essence, the first three girls grew up together, and the second three (my brother and two baby sisters) grew up together also.
Daddy was in the Air Force, and we moved around the entire time I was growing up. I went to high school in Puerto Rico (on the base), Rancho Cordova and Folsom in California, and graduated from Fort Worth, Texas. I didn't get a chance to make long-term friends growing up. I remember my parents and my sisters as being the only real constants in my early life.
Daddy was an enlisted man in the Air Force until the war, and afterwards he received his commission as a second lieutenant. By the time he retired, he was a Captain with a temporary assignment as a Major. I think he retired because he was passed over too many times and was forced out. After retirement, he worked as a TV repairman and did odd jobs with the city of Fort Worth. After I had left home, they bought a house on Lake Worth, across from the Air Force Base, which has since been shut down. He and my mom and three youngest siblings lived from then on in a single home, so different from my experience.
Daddy was a good-looking man, and Mama was a dish when they met in 1941. I was born a year after they married, and we began the typical military family life of following Daddy from place to place. He would occasionally go on TDY (temporary duty) alone somewhere for as long as six months, and then would come home to his family. I remember once when he came back with an English Racer (bicycle) for me, which terrified me. Every once in a while he would sit me on the seat and see if my legs were long enough to ride it. One day they reached, and I began to learn how to ride a bicycle. Although I was scared stiff at the time, I also loved it. By the time I was proficient, nobody could get me off!
Daddy only lived to be 62. He died in 1979 of a heart attack, and Mama died in 1993. She missed him terribly all those years, and when we would talk on the phone she told me all kinds of stories about him that I never knew. Although I idolized him when I was a child, I learned that he was many things I couldn't quite reconcile with the father I loved. For one thing, I learned that he was a lifelong Republican, and Mama was a Democrat! (I'm my mama's girl now.)
I love my family of origin, each and every one of us, as different as we are one from another. Two of my three youngest siblings live in Texas (one married a Canadian and lives up there), Norma Jean is in Florida, and PJ ended up living in Texas as well. I moved from Colorado to Washington state, and so we don't have much opportunity to get together. But I know they love me, and we are all on Facebook, and although some don't use it as much as others, I get to see the family through pictures and stories, and they also get to see my life. Their children (and their children's children) are much more proficient with these things, so I am blessed with connection. And I have you, part of my extended family...