Saturday, September 27, 2014

Mi familia

Seven years in, I guess its time you meet the family. Or at least some of them. My brother John sent me this picture, 1966 family gathering at the gypsum dunes of White Sands, New Mexico. My stepfather worked there for five years, an early drone designer for Ryan.

I'm the little chap in front, all of nine years old, maybe just nine, sans spectacles, they came a year or so later. Thankfully my ears eventually flattened out. When I tell people that we had 12 people in the house in El Paso they don't believe me but it is true. You learn to eat very fast. Don took his pointers in discipline from Goering or Himmler so you kept your elbows off the table and your mouth shut if you knew what was good for you.

That's my mom on the right with the sunglasses, Adelle. Crazy brilliant, progressive, loved to pick up strays and take them back to our nest. Teacher, editor, writer, agent, super high powered intellect. Did I mention batshit crazy?

Behind her is my brother Buzz, 16 months my junior, given name David Jonathan. Lawyer turned restauranteur. Behind Buzz counter clockwise is Gail, Don's niece. Gail and her brother Rusty, (not shown) lived with us for a couple years when her alkie dad had a breakdown. From Colorado. Rusty and I fought like banshees.

Next to Gail without the glasses is my sister Barbara, now a CPA. In front of Barbara with the sunglasses is my oldest sister Liz, serious rebel genius turned government coder. In front of Liz is Pretam Gandhi, a sikh from Poona, studying engineering at Texas Western. Lived with us for a year or two. A black guy named Ralph hung around a lot too.

Don't know how we jammed the whole lot into the green 64 fury station wagon with the simulated wood trim. Also don't know how we managed to evade the neighbors and their torches and pitchforks with our family's all around weirdness and atypical mien. It was a strange time and we were stranger still, definitely did not fit in.

In front of Pretam is my stepsister Donna, we haven't talked in years. Very toxic. LDS. Her brother David, who I idolized, is not in this picture and ended up dying on a motorcycle.  Donna is holding young brother John, now a fuel cell designer and engineer, very smart.

So who isn't here? Don, my stepfather at the time. My mom divorced my real dad when I was five. He remarried and they adopted two girls, Laurie and Amie. Amie died in a car wreck in 1983. My dad remarried again, a wonderful woman named Shela, with her own two kids, Richard and Sarah.

Early on we had another foster daughter, Sherie, whose prim air force boyfriend turned husband made me eat toast and french fries with a knife and fork. Asshole.  Plus we had a couple brindle great danes, a sheepdog, many cats, turtles, etc. The show dogs had the life (and diet) we kids aspired to have.

There you have it.


Unknown said...

You were a handsome little devil Robby. No wonder you have such an eclectic and interesting life. I've always thought that New Mexico has the most beautiful blue skies.

grumpy said...

such a cutie your outfit...did you or Mom dress you?..too bad things were so turbulent...

Blue Heron said...

uh, gee, no comment.

Anonymous said...

Robert, Great family history. We need a visual family tree or outline. It appears you had an incredibly rich history that feeds your creative thinking, your intelligent and enlightened mastery of so many varied subjects and some pain. Maybe a film?

Happy New Year. L

Anonymous said...

Robert--For a person who lays out his life, his troubles, his enjoyment of food in restaurants, his business success and failure, it doesn't seem you would be worried about privacy.

Uncle Norm

Blue Heron said...

Dear Uncle,

There is a difference with sharing something voluntarily and having somebody look through your data without permission that I think you can understand.