The O’Connor’s

My mother is the oldest of seven children. Growing up, all the families lived in the greater Los Angeles area. We Jordan kids were just five of the 29 grandchildren our grandparents had. Mostly, we were like stair steps, born year after year after year, but in 1960, the year my youngest sister was born, there were four grandchildren born within a few months. My grandparents youngest grandchild and first great-grandchild were born the same year. While some of us lived close enough to attend the same grammar school and high school, most lived far enough away that we saw each other on occasional weekends, for birthday parties (which with so many kids were a pretty regular event), and all the holidays. Christmas Eve at our house, Easter at my Aunt Lola’s, Thanksgiving at Aunt Baby’s, a summer party at the O’Connors because they had a swimming pool, and so on. Cousins visited back and forth and were chosen to accompany families with same-age children on vacations, skiing trips or sailing to Catalina with our uncles and their kids.

Not So Fast, My Dear

If you read the popular press, it seems many people dread turning fifty, feeling as if the hourglass has now been flipped and their life is certainly half over. Against all common belief and expectation, however, fifty turned out to be one of my best years ever. Not only did I go way beyond my comfort zone, stretching my mind and body, by hiking the full fifty-mile circuit of the High Sierra Camps in Yosemite National Park, ascending from about 6000’ to 11,000’, but I also met Norton.

Puppy Love

You know how they say that some people start to look like their dogs, or maybe it’s vice versa, that the dogs look like their owners? There was once a whole advertising campaign for dog food, I think, showing dogs and their owners almost looking like twins. You know what I mean; the tall, thin woman with lanky long hair and her afghan hound, the small woman with short blond, curly hair, lots of jewelry, and her blond toy poodle with its rhinestone collar and maybe a fur coat, Winston Churchill and a bull dog. I think you get the idea.

Mother Tongue

Growing up, I heard a lot of Spanish spoken. My mother, the oldest of seven children moved from Quito, Ecuador to Los Angeles when she was almost fifteen. My grandmother, who until very recently I had never appreciated for the brave woman she was, came by boat to the United States with her seven children, one niece, two maids, and speaking no English. My grandfather remained in Quito to work, coming to Los Angeles twice a year to visit his family. This always struck me as a rather unconventional arrangement, but apparently it worked for them as they were married until they died, a year apart, in their eighties. At the time the family moved from Ecuador it was customary if one could afford it, to send your children to the United States or England for high school. With seven children to educate, my grandfather thought it was a better idea to move the family to the United States so all the children could learn English. The plan was to follow that move with a move to France so they could learn French as well, but World War II intervened and they never made it across the Atlantic.