1920 Longview - 1953 and 1992
I was the youngest of four children, born in two shifts. Two children were born pre-World War II and two were born post-World War II. My eldest sister, Gail, was twelve my senior, my brother, Steve, nine-years-older, and JoAnn was three-years-older. When my mother was expecting me, my siblings say they hoped for a baby boy, so the numbers would be even, two boys and two girls. They were highly disappointed to get another sister!
As the youngest, I was teased, bossed and corrected constantly. My siblings thought my parents babied and spoiled me and I guess they did. I got away with many things my siblings never would have. I was very willful and remember throwing tantrums. On one such occasion, Gail was baby-sitting and she put me, kicking and screaming, into the tub and ran cold water on me!
Gail corrected me. She was like a second mom to me and had graduated from college when I was nine. Gail taught English at Highland High School while still living at home. She let me help correct test papers and while she was reading essays, she'd give me a topic and have me write a story about it. Those were fun times. But usually she was just correcting my grammar, syntax and pronunciation. She was an English teacher after all.
Steve teased me. He did all the boy things. He and his friend Paul watched Steve Reeves (Hercules) movies, and then would work out with weights to try to get big muscles. They drank huge quantities of protein concoctions they’d made in mom's blender and they’d each drink a quart all at once! Steve played basketball and rode a motorcycle. I thought he was really cool and I wanted to be like him. He was especially cool when he went on an LDS mission when I was eleven. When I was in high school, Steve served in the USAF SAC as a Captain. He flew missions over Viet Nam and I was so proud of him.
JoAnn bossed me. She made me do things I didn't want to do. She made me put a jelly bean up my nose and I couldn't get it out. Mom couldn't get it out, even with tweezers, so we went to the Doctor, who removed it while I cried. Another time, JoAnn made a slippery slide in our room by getting a board from the garage and propping it against our bunk beds. "You have to try it first," she chuckled. Did she know something I didn’t? I slide down the board and got a three-inch splinter deep in my bottom . . . off to the Doctor's again for another painful procedure.
My siblings were all smart. Gail was brilliant and skipped her senior year in high school. By the time I started school, every one of my teachers had already taught one of my siblings. I was expected to be obedient and attentive like Gail, Steve and JoAnn. However, I had a rebellious streak and surprised my teachers by being a smart-aleck!
Gail taught for over forty years, most of that time at Chester Awalt High in Los Altos, California. Later she taught Transcendental Meditation with her husband. She never had children. While living in Metairie, Louisiana, Gail suffered a massive stroke when she was sixty-four and never spoke again. Paralyzed on her right side, she spent her last six years in a wheelchair, dependant on others for everything. She survived Hurricane Katrina in that condition. She died June 13, 2007 in Sandy, Utah. She was my mentor, guru and friend and I loved her very much.
Steve flew for the Air Force for five years and then for about thirty years with various airlines. He retired from flying, was made Bishop of his ward, and found out he had CLL (Chronic Lymphatic Leukemia) all in the same week! After his body rejected a stem-cell transplant, Steve died on November 1, 2003 in LaJolla, California at the age of sixty-three. I miss his wisdom and his wry sense of humor. He could fix anything. I miss him so much, I ache.
Four siblings are now down to two. It is lonely at the bottom, without my parents and oldest siblings. At fifty-eight, I am still the baby and would love to be bossed, corrected and teased!
K. Stephen Eardley (1940-2003)
Gail Eardley Seager (1937-2007)