Segue to Motherhood

As I've written elsewhere, my childhood fantasy began when I was seven years old. I decided when I grew up and got married, I would have four children, two girls and two boys. I never doubted that I could have anything I wanted. My father told me as much and I trusted him to always be honest with me. He said I just had to make sure that I fell in love with a boy who also wanted four children, two girls and two boys.
There was another caveat. All four of my children had better be born before I was thirty years old because I wanted to be something else as well as a mother, maybe a singer, or an actress, or an artist, or a writer, once my babies were all in school. I can almost hear myself saying those words to my dear Dad. I never told my mother any of this because I thought she would scold me for even thinking about things like having babies when I was only seven. My Dad was my only confidante.

Fortunately, my children's father came into my life when we were young and my dream became a reality. We married when I was 20 and our 4th child was born when I was 28.  I realize how my feelings of being an only child (although I was not one), prompted my wish that some day, my own children would be closer in age than I was to my siblings. I was lonely for what most of my cousins had, lots of siblings a few years apart in age, someone always around to play with. I looked forward to my almost daily trips with Mom to her parents' house at 181 Maujer Street. My first cousins, the Gallo sisters, lived upstairs. While Mom visited her bedridden mother, Principia, downstairs, I got to be with Josephine, Priscilla, and Gloria upstairs. They were the cousins closest to my age and within walking distance. I pretended we were the characters in one of my favorite books by Louisa May Alcott, Little Women. Delores, the fourth Gallo sister, arrived eight years after Gloria. 

Don't get me wrong. I had a perfect angel for a big sister. Jean was thirteen years older than me and like a second mother to me. Buddy, my only brother, was nine years older than me and very protective of me, his kid sister.  What I didn't have was siblings close to my age. I was only seven when my sister married Pete and moved away. Buddy joined the New York Guard the same year and enlisted in the U.S. Army the next year. In my mind, that's when I became an only child, at seven.

Sometimes I look back on memories of my safe childhood in the Williamsburg section of north Brooklyn to see which experiences may have influenced later events in my life. Whenever I indulge myself in this trip down memory lane, I am taken back to highlights of my youth that revolved around our frequent school field trips to Manhattan. It was a short subway ride between the Lorimer Street station a block away from my house and
the metropolis "New Yawkers" simply called The City with its overflowing cornucopia of culture. 

We took for granted excursions to places some people never get to see in a lifetime, like the awesome Hayden Planetarium and the American Museum of Natural History, the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Central Park with the famous New York Obelisk called Cleopatra's Needle. As a child, I thought it was like that everywhere until I moved to Hollywood, Florida in 1953, and got laughed at when I asked where the nearest museum was!

The City (Manhattan) offered every imaginable opportunity one could hope for. Not the least of these was to see people who didn't look like us or dress like us or speak our language, people from countries we only learned about in our geography classes. I sometimes wonder if choosing to have my children in Florida denied them the advantages and exposure to culture and diversity that I took for granted growing up in the melting pot of New York. One thing I know for sure is that it didn't hinder my first-born daughter, Kimberli Jean.

      Kimberli is 3
                      weeks old!Kimberli @
                      one-year-oldKimberli @two and Karen Kay, the boxer      

Kimberli was born at the old Alachua General Hospital which no longer exists. She is the only one of my children born in Gainesville when we were living on the University of Florida  campus in Flavet housing, while her dad was a student. I'll never forget the first time I held her in my arms. The hospital beds at that time had a radio attached to the headboard and when the nurse placed my precious baby in my arms for the first time, Bobby Helms was singing a song called My Special Angel. She has been my special angel ever since, and always will be.

I could write a book about Kimberli alone, but I won't. She is well known for being an environmental activist, community organizer, musician, singer, songwriter, columnist, and so much more.  Her instrument of choice growing up was the euphonium. She is a talented writer and wrote a weekly column for the Tampa Tribune called
Environmentally Speaking. I don't want this to turn into a Wikipedia article, though if you want to, you can read more about Kiki at While I'm thinking of it, dancing Light's website can be found at .

                      in Egyptian costume, 1964        Kimberli in Hippie Outfit Mom Made~June 1970     

When her younger sister Priscilla was small, before she could say Kimberli she called her Kiki and that became Kimberli's stage name. My first grandson, Richard, is the son of Kimberli and her late husband, Rick Carter. It was such a thrill for Gordon and me to be in the maternity waiting room the day Richard was born. Rick came over to me, gave me a big hug, and said, Grandma, you have a grandson. Rest in peace, Rick.

Some years later, Kimberli married singer/songwriter, Greg Webb, the lead singer of the Gainesville-based Rhythm and Blues Revue, and changed her name to Kiki Webb. They formed the acoustic duo dancing Light. The name came from a song of the same title, written about a vision Kiki (then Kimberli Wilson) had after a near-death experience. Although their only son, my third grandson Sabbastian, was born in Gainesville, they moved to northern Minnesota a few years later and have lived there ever since. He will always remember Minnesota as his childhood home.

Greg and Kimberli Webb at Forest Edge        Greg, Kimberli, Richard, and Sabbastian~2011

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