I was born, an 80’s baby, to a mother and father who loved me dearly in their own, very different, ways. I had two older brothers. The oldest brother is a half brother from my mom’s previous marriage. My middle brother is “the perfect child” (GAG). I was a surprise. That same “perfect child” of a brother of mine used to remind me that I was an accident. My mother used to remind me that I was her FAVORITE blonde haired blue eyed little girl. I NOW know that I was her ONLY blonde hair blue eyed little girl. Either way, I love the honor.
My father is from a strict military family. He has one brother. My dad worked at a stamping factory for over 10 years before it shut down. He worked a few other places but landed a job driving a school bus and absolutely loves it. My dad, his brother and my Oma (grandmother) were born in Germany. My Opa’s grandfather and 6 other brothers came over from Germany in the 1800’s. Opa served in World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War. He got a bronze star for a heroic deed but not sure what for. Oma was a child in Germany during World War II. The few stories she tells make me thankful of the life I had growing up. Her father was killed before the war started and her mother struggled to raise her and her two brothers and sister on her own. My Opa found my Oma while he was stationed in Germany assigned to a tank unit. She was a blonde, blue eyed, young beauty working on base at the NCO bar. I always felt so special knowing I was a first generation America-born gal on my dad’s maternal side! My Opa loved picking on me. I secretly loved it too. I was my Oma’s first little girl. You can imagine the treatment I received. My Opa was SO MEAN to my Oma in his old age and Alzheimer’s, but she loved that man with all of her heart and took the verbal garbage he threw at her until his last breath. Opa passed away in 2005.
My mom is a loveable, laughing, beauty, who is also from a military family that lived all over the world. I remember thinking how cool it was that she graduated from high school in Germany, being able to see what my father and Oma had once seen. My mom went to college and became a teacher. I was at her graduation. It was so important to me to see her succeed, even if I didn’t have a clue what succeed meant at the time. She was the most caring teacher I have ever witnessed. My grandparents grew up together in Ohio a few years apart. My grandmothers’ mom was a homemaker and her dad ran his own farm equipment business. My grandfathers’ mom and dad owned a café. I never met my great grandfather but my Gma Mary was my world growing up. She was the matriarch of our family. She was the most loving, independent woman, until she passed away in 2007. My grandmother was a “horse girl” and my grandfather thought she was so cool. My grandmother, the youngest of two other siblings, went to the Art Institute of Cincinnati after high school. She was an artist to her bones and did beautiful work. My grandfather went to college then went into the military and did a whole bunch of top secret-take to your grave-stuff that I wish so bad I knew about. Either way, he ended up working on rockets-stuff and so I got to tell all of my friends at school that he WAS that rocket scientist we all hear about.
We lived in Texas, close to my paternal grandparents, but moved to Alabama to be close to my maternal grandparents when I was 3. We visited Texas every other year during Christmas and sometimes during the Summers.
My grandparents live on a farm. It is a beautiful farm. I’m not sure what is actual memories and what is just from pictures I’ve seen but there were cows on the land and all types of other farm animals. There is a beautiful pond at the road front. I grew up thinking having a dog as a babysitter and a turkey for a best friend was completely normal, and honestly, I still think that. I spent most summers and a lot of weekends at my grandparents home, which was only a couple miles down the road from where we lived. We had a beautiful river that ran beside the road, also. I remember my grandmother taking us out in a canoe to explore the environment. I remember always being cold. But still wide-eyed and amazed at nature’s beauty. Life was pretty good on the farm. Whether it was a calf in the back room of the house, or playing around at the barn like it was our very own jungle gym, it was FUN! Many afternoons were spent with horses in the isle of the barn and my grandmother letting me play what we called “Barbie horse” with them for hours. We would wash them and brush them and braid every hair we could find. We would ride. We would bathe them again. Repeat daily for pure happiness. I watched the miracle of life happen at that barn. There was a tree past the barn in the field. We called it Disney Land. It was HUGE. We climbed to the very top where we should not have ever been climbing. We could see the world up there. I was the luckiest little girl in the world.