More Family Treasure

me and Josey

Me and my oldest grand daughter Josey – the original Princess!

The closest thing to my heart is family. And the older I get, the more that is true.

This wasn’t something I was expecting originally. When I was young and even a teenager, my goals were about education and being an artist. I didn’t particularly like kids although I did a lot of babysitting – but that was for money. Fifty cents an hour was pretty productive time spent for me in 1966!

Oh how I wanted to go to college! I would study art, move to France and paint masterpieces. I dreamed of it for years.

But that didn’t happen. While my friends all went off to various universities, I worked, lived at home and went to the local branch of OU. I took whatever classes I could afford but wasn’t very happy about it. Art education in those days was all about abstract defiance, not classical training in drawing and composition. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The schools that taught what I wanted to know were totally out of my reach.

By my junior year at OU I was commuting to the main campus in Athens, Ohio but also dating a fun guy who had no interest in college. I was head over heels for him and we got married. Soon I had to choose between him and school. He won, hands down.

Even though I had in the back of my mind that I would figure out a way to finish my degree, I enjoyed being married and having a great circle of friends to do things with all the time. None of those friends were college-minded, so soon the babies started coming along. I caught the “baby fever.”

By the time I was married a year I was three months pregnant. I was excited and not deterred a bit. I had known other classmates who had graduated with a baby in tow… I knew I could do it, too. Besides, I only had just over a year of school left. How hard could that be after what I had already done?

Enter… LIFE.

I remember, at my college orientation in the fall of 1969, filling out the paperwork declaring what I wanted to study and the projected graduation date. At age 17, I confidently wrote down “Bachelor of Fine Arts, June 1973.” I had no doubt it would happen.

But the fact was, in June 1973, I welcomed twin sons to our new family and my life was never the same.

First of all, I was totally SMITTEN. These were the most gorgeous babies ever born and they were mine.

All mine.

Bill & Brad, 1974

Bill & Brad, 1974

A whole new world opened up and me and my babes were the center of it. I became an Earth Mother – baking bread, making yogurt by the quart in the oven, putting in a garden, hanging cloth diapers on the line to dry. This was a life I never knew I wanted and I loved every minute of it.

Ellyn Oakwood Ave mirror 1977The only thing missing was a little girl so that was next on my list. To my great delight I got her in November 1975. I was so thrilled that I carried her around like a baby doll and changed her clothes a couple times per day. How could anyone have such a charmed life?

School went by the wayside and I couldn’t have cared less. Once in a while it would nag me a bit as it was an unfulfilled goal, but I knew the time would come again when I could go back to it. And I hadn’t given up art. I took occasional classes and painted when I could. I also knitted, crocheted, sewed, baked, gardened and began to study the Bible seriously. I took my children to the local Kingdom Hall and we made friends with other spiritually-minded families. My life was full and happy.

As the kids got older, my husband wanted me to go back to work. I knew he felt the burden of supporting the family on one income but I did everything I could to save money so I could stay home. The thought of leaving my children during the day was not something I could accept. I DID work part time as a waitress/bartender at private parties with my mother-in-law and it was a good cash income. I saved every dime for family expenses and extras like outings and small vacations. Still, that didn’t really satisfy my husband.

So… the idea of having more children was out of the question. And as much as I wanted more kids, I had to respect the fact that we lived on one main income and it wouldn’t stretch any farther. Still, I longed for babies. I would just have to long…

My husband regularly played the lottery, so I bargained with him. He always said what a nice house or car or jewelry he would buy me if he hit but I never wanted that. I wanted kids. He agreed that more children would be in the picture if the lottery came through.

Of course, that didn’t happen. And he fully expected that when our three kids were all in school I would go back to work full time. It was a very sore subject with us.

Bill, Ellyn, Brad, Lake Erie around 1978

Bill, Ellyn, Brad, Lake Erie around 1978

I took my daughter to her first day of school and accompanied her inside. When I left to walk back to the car it was raining. The tears streamed down my face to have her away from me for so much of the day. I held my face up to the rain and actually wished for my husband to hit the lottery. I wanted another baby (or two) even if I had to go to China to get them. In fact, two Asian babies would be ideal since my concept of a perfect family was 5 kids. Please, God, don’t let this be it. I love my family and they are everything to me. I am grateful for what I have, but I don’t feel like I am finished. Please….

It was not to be.

I did not go back to work full time but I did find more part time work. In addition to the private parties, I did artwork from home during the day. I painted signs, hand-lettered menus for local restaurants, painted murals in public buildings and private homes, did custom stencils and wallpaper designs and started my own portrait business. I worked almost every day and was able to do it while my kids were at school. My husband hated it. He would rather I worked for less in a factory on an hourly basis because he resented that I could work at my own convenience and still make money. I never understood why he wasn’t happy that I could make enough money from home to take us on vacations and buy the kids’ school jackets and designer sport shoes, but he never stopped hounding me and I never backed down. And I guess that was the beginning of the end.

In the final washout, it was good we only had three children. They were plenty to raise and they were plenty to disappoint when our family split. I was beyond devastated when my husband left for someone else after 23 years. My perfect family was destroyed and it nearly destroyed me. Little did I know he was doing me a favor…

That’s right. He did me a favor. In 1994. More than 20 years ago.

Since then, I’ve learned the true meaning of family.

True family… and true friends… stick with you always. And I mean ALWAYS.

My three kids are my life. Still. I wish I had a couple more, but it didn’t happen. I’ll always mourn a little bit for that, but what I have is priceless. Two sons and a daughter (and 6 grands) who think I hung the moon. Yeh, they know my faults and get on me sometimes when I get wacky, but they know me from way back. They know how I loved them then and now and they love me in the same way. They also love their dad and I am glad for that because I taught them well.

And here’s a twist in the works….

My very own blood family suffered a major tragedy this year. It was so bad that I cannot talk about it publicly out of respect for others. The sad fact is that, as a result, I have been cut off from immediate family I love very much. This has been so hurtful – in addition to the loss of two lives – that I’ve had to go into therapy over it.

Author Henri Nouwen writes, “When those you love deeply reject you, leave you, or die, your heart will be broken. But that should not hold you back from loving deeply. The pain that comes from deep love makes your love ever more fruitful.”

On top of that, I lost my former mother-in-law AND my spiritual mother this year as well. (And my own mother last year.) It has been a time of loss. That is devastating for a family person like me.

Yet, like I said, true family – and true friends – stick with you always.

This past weekend, my niece (from my former married family) had my whole family up to her house for a cookout. And they included ME! I have not been able to associate with this beloved former family of mine for 20 years now. I have no idea why they still consider me part of the family but I am so grateful they do.

I told my therapist about my own blood family rejecting me on ridiculous hearsay while my former married family and long-time friends continue to include me. I explained that I am the same person in each of these situations. My therapist advised that I accept the love shown to me when it comes from such reputable, long-time sources and rejoice in it. And that is what I am doing.

So here are some photos from last week’s get-together at my niece’s home (Amanda Daubenmire Morley).

This is me and my niece Jamie, who I have not seen for a good 20 years. She is gorgeous! I was thrilled to visit with her!


Here’s my father-in-law with my two grandsons…


Here’s my oldest grandson, AJ. He’s almost 17 and will be getting his driver’s license any day!


Here’s my oldest grand daughter, Josey. She is the sweetest thing ever!


Here’s my other grandson, Colin. He is so good with all the little kids!


Here’s my sister-in-law, Becky and her grandson (Amanda’s baby) Mac. He is Macon William after my FIL Bill and I think he is the cutest baby I’ve ever seen. So pleasant and happy all the time!


The patriarch… William Daubenmire, Sr. My FIL, Big Bill. He HATES being hard of hearing but never misses a chance to be with family and watch all the goings-on. We love him like crazy!


Here’s Amanda’s family. I made knit hats for each of them as a gift in OSU colors since Amanda and Chris are die-hard fans…


Isn’t Amanda beautiful??


And here’s the shelterhouse (Pavillion) Amanda and Chris just built on their property that we lounged in for the afternoon…


And my gorgeous great-niece, Meredith…


My brother-in-law Mike and my son Bill on the sidelines…


The guys posed in the woods…

Brad, Bill, AJ, Chris

Brad, Bill, AJ, Chris

And the rest of the family wandered on walks through the colorful foliage…


What a wonderful day we had…

Oh how I love this family! Amanda’s children are really my great-niece and great-nephew, but I want to claim them as two more of my precious grands.

Thank you, Daubenmire Family (Amanda, Becky, Mike, Big Bill) for keeping me close to you. You will always be part of my heart as well.

I know that when I post things like this I tend to say too much. My kids would prefer that I keep these things to myself and play them down rather than post on social media. But for some reason, I just can’t do it. I don’t tell only good or funny stories. I tell the sad and bittersweet ones, too. They are part of life and life isn’t always happy.

Sadness is part of a well-rounded life. We all must shed some tears along the way. We all will be misunderstood in spite of our best intentions. I am not always tactful and as kind as I mean to be. But neither am I ever intentionally malicious.

This is my blog and my story. I share it with you as my experience when I speak from the heart. I know it will be valuable to others who go through a similar journey, so that is all it is. A shared experience.

And things eventually come around like they did this past weekend when I got to visit with treasured family that I’ve been apart from for years. What a gift!

Love to all.

And may Your Family be your treasure all through your life.

(And maybe someday I will still get that 4 year Fine Art degree!)


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Patti
    Oct 31, 2015 @ 16:44:29

    Hi there, my friend!! As usual, I loved the post and the pictures. and yes you are Blessed. What a beautiful family. The fall there is so pretty. I am hoping I haven’t missed it in Sedona. Yes, Amanda is a beautiful young woman and I love the pavilion. What a great place for family gatherings! I am so glad you wrote another piece. I thouroughly enjoy reading them, Starr. ❤ ~ Patti


  2. dozernation
    Dec 13, 2015 @ 20:05:28

    So what is keeping you from your goal of the degree?


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