It all started with a Facebook post by a girl I went to school with. (Stick with me; after the boring part is a kind of funny story, I promise.)
She asked if any of her classmates remembered going to school with a girl named Lisa D. (last name withheld). She had read the name on the local radio station's web site in a news report where this lady had allegedly murdered someone, and the name had sounded familiar to her.
I replied that we had gone to school with a Lisa D., that she was a year ahead of us, and that I was actually distantly related to her through my Dad. I then checked the radio station's web site myself to see if there was any other information. It listed her name and her age as being 44, which would be right, but there were no other clues as to whether it was the girl we'd gone to school with.
Well, now I had to know if my memory was correct that I was related to this lady. So I called my Mom's house, and my sister Lois answered. She didn't know anything about the news report, but confirmed through Mom that Lisa D.'s grandmother Helen was a cousin of my Dad's.
Now here's how some of the conversation went from there.
Me: I never really knew Lisa that well. I knew Toni and Timmie (her half-brother and sister) better.
Lois: I think Lisa was raised by her grandparents after her mom and Jimmie married. I remember Lisa vaguely. It was a long time before I knew that she was a sister to the Felts kids. I can remember the school bus going down into the valley and picking her up at her grandparent's house, and then picking Toni and Timmie up at their house and wondering how they could be related if they lived at different houses. I hadn't had any knowledge of that kind of family unit where all the brothers and sisters didn't live in the same house, and it kind of confused me for a while.
Me: That's funny. We were kind of naive, weren't we? Even all of our extended family were in regular households with one mother and one father. It's funny how kids can get confused about things like that when they're first aware of something different.
Lois: I remember asking Mom and she had to explain it to me.
FUNNY PART Me: Oh my goodness, that reminds me of something Mom once had to explain to me!! Remember the Higdons? (Two sisters, one unmarried but with a daughter, the other single.) I remember wondering how Marie could have a daughter but still have the same last name as her sister. (I was nine at the time.) So I asked Mom. She looked at me kind of funny and said, "Well, she never married." So, naive, sheltered little girl that I was, I asked how she could have had a child if she wasn't married. Now, earlier that day I had seen the rooster getting on one of the hens, and I'd told Mom that the rooster was fighting with the hens again. So after this (simple and perfectly reasonable to me) question about Marie, I guess Mom thought I needed to have The Talk. Or maybe she heard an entirely different question from what I was actually asking. So she took me to her bedroom and started telling me about the birds and the bees. Or should I say the chickens. (Lois is laughing hysterically by now.) I have absolutely no memory of what Mom said to me, except that she started it by saying, "Remember when you told me about the chickens fighting this morning? Well, they weren't really fighting." I do remember sitting there thinking, "Oh my goodness, she's telling me about sex!!" All I wanted to know was how you're allowed to have a kid when you're not married! And I remember thinking that there was no way I was going to tell her that she wasn't answering my question -- I was too embarrassed to say anything! I know I didn't know the mechanics of sex at that age, but I did know that it took a man and a woman and that there were physical parts involved. I had seen the dogs and cats, after all, and had never, up til then, wondered about the physical aspects of a man and a woman having sex. I just honest-to-God didn't know that you could have sex and not be married!!! And that's all she would have had to tell me to answer my question. So, anyway, I let her finish, and I never did tell her the truth about it. I guess I eventually figured out on my own that marriage didn't always come before sex.
(As funny as that was, if you knew my Mom, it would be even funnier!)
Lois (Once she'd stopped laughing -- she does know Mom): Do you remember that Andy Griffith episode where Andy thinks Opie is asking him about sex and tells him the facts of life?
Me: Yeah, and afterward Opie's friend asks Opie if he told him he already knew all about it, and Opie said, "Nah. I didn't want to spoil it for him."
At about 9 minutes and 32 seconds in: