A lot of you know this, but here goes: I am the eighth of eight children. No blending. All biological. All Davis, all the time.
I am also quite a bit younger than the rest, as #1 was 23 when I was born and #7 was seven. He (#7) went off to college when I was 12, which means that for the bulk of my adolescence I was . . . wait for it . . . an only child with seven brothers and sisters.
And many of you are now thinking, “well, THAT explains EVERYTHING!”
So: what are the ways my odd birth order still influences me today at age 58? Here are five.
1. I always have been and always will be THE BABY. Can’t get away from it, can’t avoid it, can’t fight it. In fact, some of them still refer to me by nicknames I was given as a toddler. Which I sure as #*$! am not going to share with you here.
2. In a family of that size spanning that many years, we were raised by “different” parents. My oldest sisters were raised by a dad who was just getting started in his academic career and a mom who was a 1940s-50s era housewife. I was raised by a dad eagerly nearing retirement and a mom just as eagerly earning her Master’s degree and entering the work force.
3. The joy of one is the joy of all. These days my brothers and sisters and I celebrate grandparenthood, career changes, book publishing, and marrying children off. Technology is an enormous help — I don’t know how we’d do it if we had to write letters and make phone calls!
4. The sadness of one is the sadness of all. We haven’t been immune to the inexplicable, as my oldest sister died suddenly in 1984 when she was 45. And her death was only three days after one brother and his wife gave birth, a week before another brother got married and three weeks before Julie and I did. That month-long circle of life remains the most vivid time in what it means to be a Davis.
5. Relationships work when you work on them. Eight siblings, eight spouses (Ok, including a few ex-es as well as some new ones), two political parties (at least), various religious expressions, differing professions . . . well, you get it. A lot of personal quirks (not that I have any, of course) and even more opinions. It’s easy to let that stuff get in the way . . . until you don’t. I think I can say that in part because of technology (see #3) but more because of tenacity, we are better connected today than ever.