My uncle, Larry Byer, out of all the nine children of my grandparents, George and Hattie Byer, most resembled my mom, Collene Spencer. In fact, as children, they looked so much alike that some people actually thought they were twins. When my grandmother took my Uncle Larry, who was just 20 months older than my mom, to register for Kindergarten, they asked her if she was planning to register his twin sister too. Grandma was rather surprised and told them that he didn’t have a twin. She really hadn’t thought about the fact that they had similar features, such as the same color and texture of hair, and similar facial features, with the exception of the normal differences between boys and girls. No, they didn’t look alike then or later in adulthood, but the similarities were enough to know for sure that they were siblings, and I guess that for the person registering Uncle Larry, that was enough to think they were twins.
Uncle Larry and my mom, as well as they younger brother, Wayne, who by the way, looked quite different than his older siblings, were always very close. Uncle Wayne had dark hair and Uncle Larry and my mom were blondes; and their facial features were different too. Nevertheless, they were all best friends. I suppose that age had a lot to do with it. The older siblings didn’t really want to hang out with the little siblings so much. It’s a common problem in families. So for my mom, that meant that her sisters, both older and younger, didn’t so much hang out with her when she was a child. So, she hung out with her brothers. Time changes things though, and as she got older, she hung out a lot with her older sisters. Nevertheless, she was always close with her brothers growing up.
Of course, it helped that Uncle Larry, and Uncle Wayne too, had a great sense of humor. They always kept my mom laughing and that made hanging out with her brothers, more a choice rather than a necessity. They were good to her too. The Byer brothers were kind, gentle souls, much like their dad. Mom always felt privileged to be allowed to hang out with them, and she would defend them to the end…even if it meant telling off her mom…a thing she only did once, however. It happened when Grandma was giving Uncle Larry a spanking for something he did, and my mom thought that her mom was being too harsh. So, she told her so. Grandma continued spanking Uncle Larry and ignoring my mom, but when she was done with Uncle Larry, and both kids started for the door, Grandma grabbed my mom, and gave Mom her share of the spanking…something she wouldn’t have received if she hadn’t stuck her nose in where it didn’t belong. I have often wondered if Mom regretted sticking up for Uncle Larry, or if she always felt justified. I think Uncle Larry might have appreciated the intent, even if it wasn’t a very smart idea. Today would have been Uncle Larry’s 99th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Uncle Larry. We love and miss you very much.
Sisters are a unique beings. They can fight, literally like cats and dogs, and everyone would do well to stay out of the way. Still, your sister is always your sister, and you love her no matter what. During some of those peaceful times, when you are getting along, many sisters find that they are able to have some of the most memorable and wonderful times of their lives. It’s in those times that you find yourself sharing your secrets with your sister, because she will always understand what you are going through. In fact, nobody cares more about what you are going through than your sister.
I have always loved those pictures with two little girls, sitting there with their heads together, whispering their secrets to each other. You know they are talking about some little boy that they really like, or even possibly about how funny someone looked in their ridiculous outfit today…I know, gossip. We can think we don’t like gossip all we want to, but the reality is that most of us like to hear the latest gossip. We want to know if that guy in school is about to break up with his girlfriend and hopefully that he likes us. It’s funny how many grade school romances took three or four people to get them off the ground. A friend knows a boy their friend likes, and the friend asks if he said anything about them. Or a friend has to tell that guy that their friend likes him, because obviously he is not observant enough to see those looks she keeps shooting his way…or at least that is the way it seems.
Our quest for secrets often starts as little kids, but it carries on into adulthood. We all seem to want to be the first and only one to know about something exciting. Secrets make us feel important. To be esteemed important enough to know someone’s secrets, is a place of value indeed, and it’s a place we want to be. Of course, to be in that place, we must be able to keep a secret. In the area of gossip, that is a rather odd thing, because someone had to tell the secret first in order for it to be gossip, so I guess that if we are to be a good secret keeper, we will have to put ourselves in a place of not being a gossip. Of course, in the area of keeping secrets, your sister can be a good one for that, because she must remember those cat and dog fights, and might not want to repeat them for not keeping the secret.
In years gone by, most farmer’s children worked on the farms of their parents. Many still do, but the way they worked has change quite a bit. Back in the old west and beyond, the fields were plowed on foot using team of horses or oxen to assist in pulling the plow through the hard ground. It has hard work, and usually resulted in the blistering of hands that were not used to it. In those days, the women didn’t usually work the farms, unless there simply was no other choice, and women with calloused hands were looked down upon and thought to be…well, not really a true lady…at least, not by Eastern standards. They just didn’t understand what it took to build the West. Many times, people moved out West with the promise of a homestead, and 5 years to prove the land. Money was scarce, and you did what you had to do…including setting your children to the task of helping out on the farm.
It is my opinion that the way things were done in the old West better trained the children for adulthood. I have watched so many kids go through life without having to shoulder any responsibility, and then continue on in life in the same way. Some becoming “professional students” so that they won’t have to get a job, while their parents pay their way. It’s a sad, sad situation, and one the parents find themselves having trouble getting out of.
The kids in the old West understood that their help was needed or the family was not going to make it. School became a luxury and one that often ended after the eighth grade, if not before. Their time was needed elsewhere. Things have changed dramatically since then. Farm equipment has made the work on the farm much easier, and the children aren’t needed to the degree that they used to be. That is a good thing in that more kids finish school.They also have time to just be kids these days. I’m still not sure which is better…or maybe there is no better…just different.
Writing about my own birthday seems…odd somehow. I was due on April 27th, which is my dad’s birthday, but I was…to quote what my dad used to say about me…stubborn, and I refused to arrive on schedule. Ok, ok, I know I’m a stubborn person…I always was, and it has not always been a bad thing. I stubbornly stick to something until I succeed at it, which in my opinion is a good thing. Still, my stubbornness wasn’t always completely welcomed in my parents house, when I was younger.
I was a debater, which my parents always called arguing…imagine that!! I simply had my own ideas, and somehow I think they just didn’t understand that. My dad probably gave me a little more leeway on the debates than my mom would have liked, and much more than my sisters expected me to live through. But, somehow, I survived my childhood, without my parents killing me for my stubbornness, and managed to move into adulthood.
I think it was in my adulthood that I grew into my stubbornness, so to speak. I have always hated losing, and it was my stubbornness that makes me keep trying and working at something until I succeed at it. I have always felt that my stubbornness is a big part of why my marriage worked…that and the fact that Bob has the same kind of stubbornness that I do, and that he hates to lose too. Of course, like everyone who is married, I have read all kids of opinions on what makes a marriage work, but I believe that if you don’t stubbornly determine to make a marriage work, it simply won’t. No one can keep up with all the steps to a successful marriage…at least not if they are going to live life. You just have to love each other and decide that you will accept who your spouse is and learn to get along. Of course, loving your spouse involves some of the steps to a successful marriage, but I think they happen spontaneously…not by planning.
My stubbornness plays a role in my career too. It is what makes me work hard, and makes me determined to succeed. It is also that stubbornness that makes me fight for the health of those I love. As a caregiver, I hate to have to put my mom or in-laws in the hospital. I want them to be healthy, and it infuriates me when I can’t keep them healthy, but I rejoice when I am able to bring them home and watch them get strong again.
I know that most people look at stubbornness as being a negative thing, and something to be avoided, but not me. I have learned to live with my stubbornness, and even to be thankful for it. It has defined me so to speak. I suppose that is because there are good kinds of stubbornness and bad kinds of stubbornness, and I have chosen to make my stubbornness work in a good way.