My parent's anniversary - Joel Hall

Many joys come with being the product of a large family.

I am the fifth of six siblings and spent part of my childhood growing up in a household with 11 family members living under one roof.

There are the joys of learning how to eat all of your meals in under two minutes, with your arm protecting your plate, so nobody else will take your food. There are also the joys of splitting candy bars eight ways or never knowing what red Gummy Bears taste like until the age of 18, because your siblings ate them all before you could get to the bag.

However, there is also the joy of always having somebody around to defend you, laugh at your jokes, share a meal with you, watch a movie with you, or listen to your innermost thoughts.

Now my four older brothers, and my younger sister, are all grown up and our lives have taken very different paths.

My oldest brother is a correctional officer in North Carolina. My second-oldest brother is a fashion designer with his own store in San Francisco, Calif. My third-oldest brother is a project manager for a large bank in Charlotte, N.C., where my sister also works as a customer service representative. My fourth oldest brother is a student in the New York City area.

I have yet to figure out what I do. My job description seems to change everyday, depending on what subject I have to become an expert on that particular day, whether it's goats, toilet-making, Buddhist philosophy, or plain-old local politics.

All of us have taken very different paths in life, although we share the scientist father and nurse/homemaker/ mother. Lately, all of us have been preoccupied in the thrill/desperation that comes with trying to establish yourself as an adult.

Each of us were so busy this year that every single one of us forgot that it was my parents anniversary this week.

My parents have been married for more than 20 years, and it amazes me when I think about what they have been through to stay together. My father is 53, but he's had children since he was 18. When he met my mother in their early 20s, my mother already had a child and my father had three.

Somehow, through it all, my father was able to get himself through Roanoke College on a full athletic scholarship, running track, earn a master's in biology from Old Dominion University, and get a doctorate in chemistry from Kent State University, all while taking care of a wife and six kids.

The times were hard, but the one thing I always had to depend on was the love between my mother and father. Their anniversary is their day, but in the future, I will think of it as my day, too.

Joel Hall covers government and politics for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached via e-mail at jhall@news-daily.com.