However Dysfunctional, There was Fun!

Everyone’s family has a bit of dysfunction in it. It’s okay. Ours was that way too. But, I like to think we put the “fun” in dysfunctional. We all loved to laugh- my mother most of all. So, you can imagine how confused I was when my mother declared my lifelong friend, Kim Gibson Wallis and I “as silly as blackbirds.” I mean, after all, where did she think I learned it ? No matter, the truth of the matter was that Kim and I thought it incredibly funny! Funny, funny, funny.

As long as I can remember, we had dinners for my mom’s side of the family at our house all the time. My mother and her sister, Ginny, alternated years as to who would host the Christmas dinner. It really didn’t matter, I don’t think to us kids where it was, just as long as it was.  It was our time to see each  other and play like the wild kids we wished we could be all the time.

If we were at Ginny’s house, then my cousin, Matt would be in charge of what we played and stuff. After all, he did live there and he would be the one to get into trouble (mostly) if we did stuff we weren’t supposed to. Younger readers may be confused because we were actually outside, in the sunshine, running, chasing, playing and teasing one another. Yes, that’s what I said- Outside. Sunshine. Playing. All those things kids barely know the meaning of anymore. Well, anyway, no matter whose house we were at (Texan phraseology, i’m afraid), one game was a constant- “Big Kids Run From the Little Kids.” I never was much of a runner, in fact, I was the last one chosen on a team of any sorts at school recess, but I could outrun the little kids! When Gary, my mom’s brother’s kid, his sisters, Jayne and Amy got to come, it was so much fun! Gary, Matt, Phil (Matt’s brother)  and I ran away from poor Jayne and Amy.  Of course, it wasn’t long til Jayne was “one of us.”

A Holiday dinner at our house
A Holiday dinner at our house

Oh my gosh! Our parents could just look at each other and start laughing- something their offspring can do as well. It was always fun to know someone else was thinking the same thing at

Being silly and laughing was a genetic trait for us
Being silly and laughing was a genetic trait for us

the same time. Ever happen to you?

Of course, with all of us, there was the “odd, but lovely” relative. This would be our Aunt Dillie. She came to be Aunt Dillie because someone as a baby couldn’t say Nellie. So, Dillie it was. We kinda made alot of fun of poor old Dillie, because she could sniff more times in a row than anyone else in the world!  Not only that, but she could burp louder than a guy and we thought it was hysterical. Of course, not to her face. We held it til we were out of the room and then we’d really let the hysteria go.

Turns out, poor old Dillie, unbeknownst to us at such an early age, had been set to marry a young man and he left her at the alter. So, these interesting traits of hers probably came about after the fact. She never married or had a gentleman suitor again. Tragic, really. However, as in Shakespeare, some tragedies are comedy and we thought she was plenty funny.

I am reminiscing because my cousin , Gary, will be spending the weekend with me. For the Fourth of July. I haven’t seen him in years and I am so excited to see him. Because it is a holiday, it reminds me of being a kid, looking out the window , waiting for him to arrive- waiting impatiently for the fun to begin!

Starting at the Beginning

Florence Nightingale Hospital
Florence Nightingale Hospital

I was born in Florence Nightingale Hospital in Dallas, Texas . If you are thinking to yourself, “I’ve never heard of it,” it could be because a) you are not old enough,or b) because it is non existent except in the form of Baylor Hospital in downtown Dallas. I’ve only found one other person who mentioned they were born there and funnily enough, it was my second cousin, once removed. I’ve only spoken with her, I’ve never met her. Pretty ironic, don’t you think? Me, too! Even though I was born in Dallas, I was raised and lived all of my life in Richardson, Tx.

Richardson has always been a utopia of sorts. There was a little city newspaper, but I rarely saw any kind of bad news in it. Richardson was a pretty sheltered little community in which doors were not often locked (except at our house). People knew each other, ( pretty cool to know your neighbors) and interestingly enough, liked each other. Kids went next door to play with other kids and most of the time, played outside- kickball, dodgeball, kick the can or even witch. The game “Witch” was more like chase with one person being the “witch.” We played hopscotch, Simon says- you know, most of the games that kids nowadays never heard of.  My neighbor, Julie and I , hooked up a tin can telephone from my bedroom window to hers. Suffice it to say that we had to open the windows and yell at each other for them to work properly. It was good fun and something to laugh about later on in life.

My parents owned two beauty shops. The Pandora and The Orchid Beauty Salon.  They worked hard and it is my opinion we were fairly privileged growing up. There were drawbacks to being the beautician’s daughter, such as everyone knowing who you were. There was absolutely no way to do something that was remotely “bad”- no- everyone in town knew us, me, and my sister. My mother had her people watching out for us and so we got told on if anyone happened to see what we did.  Still, that didn’t stop me from doing my own thing, marching to the beat of my own drum.

My mother and I had a unique relationship. I had always been an independent sort, but in a dependent way. I don’t remember ever thinking about things like self esteem or things that are quite popular these days for parents to teach their kids to think about . I guess I had a good deal of self esteem before I got to junior high with my pimply face and bouffant kind of hairstyle.I can imagine that my junior high and high school years were not all that much fun for me although I had a few good friends who made me laugh quite a bit.

I was not allowed to date until three weeks before my 16th birthday. I was not technically supposed to date until I was 16, but I cried, begged and carried on til my parents relented. And with good reason. I ended up eloping in March of 1974. My junior year in high school.