When I tell people that my mom is the 12th of 13 children I usually get one of two responses. The first one (and most likely) is: Wow! Are you serious? The second response, which never ceases to amaze me, is often something along the lines of “my mom (or dad) was one of 14 (or 15 etc.)” or “I knew somebody that came from a family of fifteen (or twenty)”. You get the idea. Maybe it’s true but it always seems a little doubtful. I think some people like to ‘one-up’. I just smile and say, “Oh, that is a big family”. What I want to say is, “Well okay then you win” “Just for the record, it was never a contest!” “And besides, even if your family is bigger it’s not better than ours!”
Mom is now 82 and is one of the ‘little girls’ – her younger sister is 81. All six of her brothers have passed away and three of her sisters are gone now, too. She and my dad are the only couple left in her generation. Her surviving sisters are: two widows and a nun. She also has two widowed sisters-in-law. Being one of the youngest in a large family has many blessings but watching your siblings die one by one is extremely difficult. We have spent the last few years attending a succession of funerals. With each loss Mom confronts her own mortality again.
Yesterday was a happy family gathering: a reunion. The Moellering Family hadn’t had a reunion in 10 years (not counting aforementioned funerals) and Mom couldn’t have been happier. Seeing Mom with her sisters and nieces and nephews made me realize how much of a Moellering that I am, too. I love our family! I’m proud to be part of this clan. We of the 13 brothers and sisters! We of the produce farmer granddad! We of the three aunts that were nuns! We, this big messy Catholic family that sometimes drinks too much, cusses and fights but always forgives and loves one another deeply. We, this fiercely proud group of hardworking, hard-headed, half-French, half-German, Midwesterners.
Families. It’s God way of ALWAYS reminding us who we are. We will touch the future through our children and grandchildren. We continue to honor the past with our memories of those that loved us into being. We possess a unique bond with our siblings and our cousins that no one else can share. We are family. We are loved. We are Moellering!