I started this series and was distracted. Here is the second installment.
No. 2 – Why I am an Only Child
My mother, Lois Richmond, had a significant influence on my life, interests, career choices, and the fact that I am even writing this series of essays. Perhaps, someday, someone will be able to say with certainty that these influences were genetic—that is, she and I were genetically inclined toward similar interests—or if I was simply influenced by her many interests. It is the old question of nature versus nurture. In any case, I am happy that it occurred. She led an interesting life over many years. While I cannot capture each noteworthy event here, I hope I can convey something of her spirit and personality in the following paragraphs.
Lois Richmond, c. 1945, on the Farm in front of Susie’s (my grandmother) house on the Chickahominy River
To tell this story naturally (for me) I must point out that from as early in life as I can remember, I addressed my mother and father by their first names, Lois and Paul. That is what I heard them call each other, and they never encouraged me to do differently. It became a little awkward for me as I reached maturity, and my peers referred to their parents as “mom” and “dad.” I would say, “Lois cooked some wild ducks last night. What a disaster.” The response was “Who is Lois?” rather than “What happened?” Then I would have to explain. No explanation was ever quite satisfactory for any of my friends. I would hear, “That’s just not right,” and I never did get to describe what happened with the ducks.
Why I am an Only Child
My mother was named for her mother, “Florence,” and her father, Louis, i.e., “Lois.” Lois was born in West Virginia, the oldest of nine siblings. I suspect that is why I am an only child—she had her fill of taking care of children when she was growing up. In fact, I am probably lucky to be here. I recall asking my folks about a brother or sister. My father said something about discussing that with Lois. As I recall, she said, in effect, there was nothing to discuss! (It is probably a good thing that she was prone to the use of profanity!)
I know very little about my parents’ lives before I was born. I know that she went to public school and college in West Virginia. Certainly, she did well in school—she was an intelligent and well-read person. She and my father met in West Virginia, and were married around 1940. By this time, my father’s mother (I called her “Susie” because she absolutely forbade me to call her anything like “grandma”), widowed since 1914, moved east to Tidewater, Virginia. I do not know the details, but somehow, my parents came to Virginia shortly after they married.
I was born in Princess Ann County (Norfolk) Virginia. My father told me that he worked in a Colonial Stores supermarket in Newport News or Portsmouth, Virginia. About this same time, Susie married W.R. Shackleford (see the first article in this series titled “The Farm”) and moved to Moyseneck Farm.
The Nest Article: The Richmonds come to the Farm.