My husband and I constantly marvel at the fact that we have two beautiful children. It seems like only yesterday that we were married and beginning a brand new life together. I can remember wanting to have a baby right away. This was a natural feeling, but my husband, Gene, convinced me that both of our working for a year or two and saving money would be the most realistic approach. Thus, we worked, saved, and bought a small house. Frequently, we talked about what life would be like when we had our first child.
Gene wanted a boy first to carry on the Mullis' name. However, I wanted a girl so I could dress her in all the pretty, frilly outfits that always caught my attention as I walked through the baby section of the nearby Penney's department store. For a few fleeting moments, I wished for twins, a boy and a girl, so we would both be content. Luckily, that did not happen. However, on September 27, 1968, two years after we were married, a ten-pound, bouncing baby boy came into our lives. What a bundle of joy he was! Two years and eleven days later, our daughter was born. We had everything now. My vision of the perfect family was complete.
The next twenty-one years of our life were devoted to the children. Since we lived and worked on the farm, the kids grew up knowing what work was like. We gave them many responsibilities early in life and our children grew up knowing what a close, strong family tie was really like. Furthermore, we did everything together as a family from work on the farm to baseball and softball games in the evening.
As our children were growing up, they resembled twins. For example, when Gene Jr. cut his little sister's hair, it looked just like his. What a memory that was--Julie perched in her baby doll highchair and Gene Jr. standing on a pile of books with the scissors in his hand. Both children had big grins on their faces and had white strands of hair all over the floor-- a picture only a mother could love.
One thing that I definitely remember was that, even though they fought like cats and dogs, both children constantly defended each other. Moreover, they always made sure that the other was okay. Gene was very protective of Julie, although she was the same size as he and did not feel as if she needed all that protection from him all the time.
During high school, Gene played the big brother act and always monitored Julie's boyfriends. He always knew where she was and what she was doing. This made her dad and me happy, but Julie was never very thrilled with the idea. As I look back, my husband Gene and I never worried about Gene Jr. He was a boy and could take care of himself, but we were always wondering about Julie. If she would have had a steady boyfriend, then our worrying and wondering might have been less. However, she had lots of friends. The only problem was that most of those friends were boys. From what her dad could see, Julie had too many friends. Julie was always surrounded by boys. I would usually take here side when her dad started questioning where she was and who she was with. I would try to calm her dad down by reminding him that she was the farm girl that he raised to be independent. Since she was so athletic, she was always around boys. She played softball, basketball, and she was the only girl on the Colquitt County golf team. Besides that, she was the first girl officer in the history of the Colquitt County Future Farmers of America club. What else could we expect? Julie was extremely outgoing and a bit too aggressive (according to her dad) for her own good.
On the other hand, Gene Jr. was more of a thinker than a doer. Gene Jr. was a pretty stubborn guy. It was not so much that he wanted his own way, but he always thought he was right. He was a thinker about everything. He thought too much. When he was four or five years old, and I took him to a toy store. He looked at every toy in the store but could not pick out which one he wanted. After three hours in the store, prodding and then pushing him to make a decision, he was still trying to choose the one toy he wanted the most. I finally had to take him home with no toy at all. It is funny that I do not remember his crying or pitching a fit about not getting a toy. I think he was just relieved that he did not have to make a choice. The next time I bought him a toy, it was one that I picked out and gave to him. He loved it. One thing for sure, I never took him to the toy store alone again.
Now Julie was a totally different kind of shopper than Gene Jr. She knew exactly what she wanted, where it was located and how much it cost. I did not take Julie shopping. It was the other way around--she took me. Needless to say, she always dressed in the newest fashions. Julie still is a take-charge kind of person, but she is never without a smile on her face. I think that is how she is like me. We both have very positive attitudes about life. Otherwise, Julie's aggressiveness was inherited from her father. He father has always been a very spontaneous person who usually reacts without thinking about it.
Regardless, both children care about each other. They have shared good times and bad times, even when they lived 300 miles apart in different states. As a result, their telephone bills were huge.
Looking back, I can see where all of our lives have changed since they both graduated from high school. We no longer farm, even though we still live on the farm. Since our children have grown up and left the nest, I decided to become a teacher. Obviously they do not need their mother an father in the same way as they used to. Gene Jr. has married Liane, who has a personality just like his Julie's--a very caring but take-charge kind of person. They are perfect for each other. Now, Julie has been married for six years, a feat that we did not think she would ever accomplish. We just could not visualize Julie's settling down with one particular guy. Finding a mate who was not intimidated by her athletic ability was probably hard for her to do. However, she finally met her husband-to-be while playing in a golf tournament. I believe that under Julie's outgoing, aggressive, impulsive exterior is the need for warmth, sincerity and stability. Luckily, she has found it with Chuck.
Strangely, some people find their happiness with people who are opposites. Maybe there is something to that old saying, "Opposites attract." Gene Sr. and I are also opposites. I am definitely the optimist.
Needless to say, both of out children, ever after marriage, still think alike. They have made careers out of the love for the outdoors that they acquired while growing up on the farm. Gene Jr. has just graduated from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, Georgia, as a golf course superintendent. He and his wife Liane are living in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where Gene Jr. is the superintendent of the Woodland Forest Country Club. Julie and Chuck live only forty-five minutes east of Birmingham. Julie is a golf pro at Heatherwood Golf and Country Club. Our children still talk to each other every day about their good and bad times. I think they will always be very close.
Looking back over the last thirty-one years of our marriage, my husband and I still marvel, especially, at the changes that have taken place in our lives as well as our children's lives. The changes (for the most part) of been positive. However, we have weathered many storms and we hope that our children have acquired their genuine closeness directly from us. It is now time to begin a new phase in our life and to marvel at something new--the next generation, our grandchildren.