Family Roots

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The Goode Kids … clockwise, Mike, Buzz, me, Tom, Barb, Frank, about 1966

I’m one of 6 kids in my family, #2 in the sequence of Goode progeny (I used that word after my older brother threw it up on social media one day … I don’t want him to think he’s smarter than me). Five boys and one girl, with 4 years between my older bro and me, then two years between each successive kid.

There are varying stories behind the 4 then 2 then 2 then 2 then 2 then 2 theme. The two most prevalent are:

  1. (from my oldest brother, Buzz) that after he was born Mom & Dad thought they would never have such a perfect baby again and it took them 4 years to work up the courage to try again, and;
  2. (from yours truly, #2 in line) that after Buzz was born it was so traumatic and horrifying that they had to wait 4 years to over come the sheer terror of it all. And then after I was born I was so fantastic that they couldn’t wait to keep trying to get another baby as good as me.
In all likelihood the truth is neither of those things, but we continue to banter about the options whenever we get together. In fact, Mom always told me I was the best one of the kids, that is indisputable (as far as I’m concerned). On that point I believe we all agree!

We grew up poor, although we never realized we were poor until later on in life. In our neighborhood pretty much everyone was on the lower end of the money spectrum, so it wasn’t immediately noticeable to a little kid. We did a lot of clothes sharing/passing down, so much so that by the time it got to kid #4 Mom & Dad probably had to get some new stuff. Of course, my sister, Barbara, always had her own new stuff since she was the only girl of the bunch … and she had her own room, too!

Fuzzy pic of the Goode family

The reason for all of these “remembrances” is directly related to two big occasions. My older/oldest brother Buzz and my aforementioned sister Barbara were both born on August 24th, 10 years apart. And this year they both celebrated “big'” birthdays (I’m not going to say how old they are, but I’m 66 … 4 years younger than Buzz and 6 years older than Barb … you can do the math). And with these two landmarks arriving in 2017, it has made me wonder how the heck we got to this age in the first place?

When we were kids our grandparents looked to be about 150 years old, generally hunched over and either very plainly dressed or wearing some of the most embarrassing clothes known to man (black socks, shorts and some kind of plaid dress shirt, for example) (most Grandma’s in my youth wore house dresses). They most certainly did not look young, like we do today. Of course, that doesn’t mean our grandkids don’t feel exactly as we did in our youth, but I’d like to believe that we are a bit cooler than our grandparents were.

Every one of us Goode kids is an official “baby boomer”, all born into the blossoming population growth period following WWII. Dad was in the war, but he rarely talked about it … we know he was a sergeant and spent time in the European theatre, but that’s about it. A couple of the boys followed Dad into the service; Buzz joined the Air Force during the Vietnam War period, Mike (#4) was in the Army stationed overseas in Germany, and Frank (#6, youngest) was also an Air Force guy serving stateside. I actually wanted to go into the service, specifically the Army so I could play in the Army band, but I had bad knees and was 4F. Tom (#3) never served, and Barb (#5), never served but married a career serviceman/government agent, so she put in her time in a different way.

Goode kids at my 60th birthday
Buzz, me, Tom, Mike, Barb, Frank
Look at the gut on me! About 100 pounds ago!

As I take this double celebration time to look back, we all did okay … perhaps some better than others but we have been blessed with large families and generally good health. Buzz lost his wife Eileen very early on and had to raise two little girls on his own (his daughters have grown into wonderful women, and Buzz is a grandfather to 1 and soon to be grandfather to twins). I have two children from my 1st marriage (son Steve committed suicide in 2005. Daughter Laura, who is regularly referenced here in this blog, is going to be 45 … WTF *&!!??*#????!!), a 35 year marriage to Bunny who passed away in 2016, and as you all know I will be married to Sheila on September 19th. Tom is a father to two sons from his first marriage, has been married to Lil for what seems to be forever, and is grandfather to a boy and girl, along with multiple step-kids and grandkids. Mike suffered several losses along the way but is now married to Nicki and also has multiple step-kids and grandkids. Barbara is mother to three children, has been married to Alan since the start of time, and is a grandmother to 5. Frank has been married to Jill a looonnnggg time and has two grown children. Everyone seems happy and our family gatherings, when we include all of the spouses, step kids, in-laws and other associated family members, are quite large and somewhat unmanageable. 

When we were kids things were always done a certain way. Dinner was always served at 6 pm (don’t be late or you’ll go hungry!), Gram (my maternal grandmother who lived with us my whole childhood) always served tea and toast at 9 pm, Sunday was church day (Dad drove us to church in Newark but rarely went into the building) (be sure to take off your good shoes when you got home), Thanksgiving was always at Mom and Dad’s (Gram would always wash the dishes, no matter how many people and subsequent dishes there were), every Christmas you would get an orange in the toe of your stocking and a small box of crayons (we would melt the crayons on the steam radiators … I don’t ever remember being yelled at for doing that), and later on when everyone was grown up and married, I would call Mom every Sunday, without fail.

These traditions/rituals made all of us Goode kids the people we are today. Coming from poor but hard working parents instilled a sense of responsibility in all of us, along with a deep work ethic. I can’t say I was a great parent, but whatever good I did for Laura and Steven comes directly from the lessons learned and the traditions set by my family. And I see the same thing with my siblings.

The cleaned up version

Now, as a 66 year old who is blessed to be living here in Georgia with Sheila, I have sort-of acquired an extended family of my own. Sheila has two sisters and accompanying B-I-L’s, three kids (one sadly passed away before he was 30, a rotten commonality Sheila and I share), a daughter in law & a son in law, 5 grandkids and some nieces/nephews. I have a whole new generation of kids that I can now embarrass with my version of black socks, shorts and a plaid shirt. I only hope I can provide to them what my own parents provided to my kids, help to teach them life lessons about family, tradition, respect and love.

So, on this double-big-birthday occasion, Happy Birthdays to both Buzz and Barb! Can you believe we ever made it this far? 

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