My parents started dating in high school. My Daddy graduated in 1974 and, by the time my Mommy graduated in 1975, she was already pregnant with me.
My parents married in August 1975, at the Courthouse in Folkston, Georgia. I was born in December, on my Daddy’s 19th birthday. He wanted to name me Michelle, after him and a Beatles song . Instead, they settled on Rebecca Joel (Joelle), both Biblical names and because Joel rhymes with Noel, symbolizing my Christmas birthday. My Daddy wanted to call me Becky Jo, because he thought the girls in the television show “Petticoat Junction” were pretty.
By the time I was five, my parents were divorced, and I was devastated. I remember them fighting but I also remember numerous trips to Disney, Busch Gardens and the beach. One of my favorite memories was a surprise 4th birthday they threw me in the trailer we were living in.
I do not know if this is “normal” but I have often wondered if I was a mistake. My mom was not the warmest of mothers, and I always sort of had the feeling that she thought I ruined her life. That and the fact that she often reminded me that I act and look like my Daddy, a man she divorced.
This year, my Daddy came and spent the night with us on what would have been my Mom’s birthday. We were all talking about her and he told me a story I had never heard before, about the first time they kissed. He said my Mom was beautiful, and they were driving around and ended up by the Callahan Fairgrounds when an Elton John song came on. The song was pretty and romantic, and so my Daddy leaned in and kissed her. Hearing him talk about her like that in such vivid detail made me cry.
He also told me I was likely conceived in the back of his car, a Montego. It sounds gross, but it was actually a funny conversation. The amazing thing is that in the tin of pictures my Mom put aside for me this past summer, there were a ton of her and my Daddy that she had kept all these years, many of which I had never seen. One of them was of my Daddy and that car!
There is something wonderful and peaceful about thinking about my parents as they were when they were young and beautiful and in love. Somehow I think my Mom’s spirit is this vibrant right now in heaven.