The young couple coupled and produced Gregory, the first born. Joseph came along ten months later (Irish twins). Twelve months later the twin girls joined the family. Mom and dad finally figured out the birds and the bees and slacked off on the reproduction rate.
This family began in those ancient days before Kindergarten and pre-school. The parents looked forward to Gregory’s sixth birthday. He would start school giving mom one less kid to tend during the day, except on August one, mom missed her period.
This is Joseph’s love story. In the Bible and in many families, if the first born is male, he has super status. If the next child is female, she has a special place also. Joseph slipped in between these two towering traditions, except he had twin sisters. He did not know it, but it gave him an ideal childhood. Dad never told him to grow up and be the man of the house. Mom didn’t tell him to excel in school like the girls. He was in charge of his own life.
He was one of 17 grandchildren. If his grandparents ever thought of him at all, they agreed that he was the quiet and shy one. While his noisy siblings bickered, he listened. However, by his fifth birthday, Dad had figured out that Joseph was smart. He thought about that and reasoned, “Gregory’s going to first grade, I’ll send Joseph with him.” He pulled enough strings to get an age exemption for Joseph. On August 15 Joseph turned five. On September 4, he and Gregory started first grade. They went through all 12 years together. Since “G” comes before “J”, Joseph was seated behind Gregory in most classes.
In high school, Gregory did all the normal things: played basketball, partied, dated, got into small troubles. He was popular. Quiet, shy Joseph lived in a different world. It was hard for him to have serious love interests when the girls in his class were 18. He was still an immature teenager. He might have done better with girls his age or a little younger, but they were silly Freshmen girls and he was a senior.
He graduated at age 16, the youngest in his class, enjoyed swimming all summer, and enlisted in the Army in the Fall. Three years later, using the G.I. Bill, he went to college. Now he is 20, a college freshman, a veteran, and the oldest in his class. Who are the girls? Those idiotic 18 year olds just out of high school.
That summer he got a job as a counselor at a co-ed camp. In the training sessions, one of the girl’s counselors interested him. Our shy and quiet Joseph asked another counselor to find out about her. He said, “She’s 24 and in her last year of medical school at John’s Hopkins. Her father teaches physics at MIT.”
“Oh”, sighed Joseph, “That was quick. My father carries mail and I’m, a Freshman in college. Would she even talk to me?”
Well, she did and the love story began. It lasted 65 years.