• Elizabeth Cornwall

The Middle Child and the Youngest

Updated: Apr 24, 2020

Every family has a system. It gets more interesting depending on who shows up in the genetic lottery and how many. A family of five children with four boys and one girl who is the youngest makes for an interesting system even before you factor in the sins of the fathers and the mothers.

Kerry was always an outlier and this image was strengthened by the fact that he was extremely quiet and in his own head — an extreme introvert with a reading addiction and a need for speed.

When he was a toddler and the last boy was born, he acted like this baby was his. He carried him around like those homemade bean bag frogs. folded over, plopped in half and perilously close to the floor. I really don't know how he reacted when I was born, the long awaited girl, because no one recorded it. But the last boy was always his.

After having four boys, my mother recalls that she was sick of washing and ironing blue jeans and shirts and promised God that if she had a girl, she wouldn't complain about ironing the frilly dresses common in the 1960s. In fact, when she was pregnant, she told her doctor that if she had another boy she would jump off what was then the tallest building in Dallas. He told my dad that he was worried.

There is the story that when my mother was heavily pregnant with me, she was hand washing something in the bathroom sink, and Kerry was "sitting on the pot" as the story is told. Yes, we had indoor plumbing. He was deep in thought and most likely in some sort of time out until he produced.

"Mama, what do we wear when we go to Heaven?"

"I don't know, but how about 'I gotta robe, and you gotta robe, and all God's children gotta robe,'" my mother recalls.

At that, Kerry jumped up, pulled up his blue jeans with no whipping, and said, "Then I won't go."

It was pretty much like that until he was 33 years old. Me too, but I'm still alive.

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