Thursday, June 25, 2009

My Birthday in Belgium/France

Many years ago on an early morning of June 25th, in far off, huge, yellow Shanghai, China this wonderful couple had a baby girl after 7 years of marriage. I am the lucky baby to be born to this most wonderful, awesome couple. I, like Nephi of old, was born to goodly parents. I remember them with so much love in my heart. They were the best! They were so kind and generous, loving, full of fun and wisdom. They loved and taught their children well. In all of my years with them, I never heard them argue, fight, or even say one unkind word to each other or about anyone. Oh, how I love them and miss them.
My Dad was born in Samara, Russia to a noble family. In 1917, during the Bolshevik Revolution, he had to escape from Russia with his family. They took the trans siberian train where they were packed in like animals and they also traveled by camel as well as by foot. They had to leave their estate and all of their belongings except those that they could carry and the jewels and money that they sewed into the hems of their coats. They settled in China. My Mom was born in Harbin, China because her Dad worked for the diplomatic services of Russia and he was assigned to China.
And so, I was born and the whole family was ecstatic. They finally had a baby. The very next day, I was given to a different Mom. You see, there were only 2 white babies born at that time in St. Mary's Hospital in the french concession of Shanghai. All of the other babies were Chinese. The nurse accidentally gave the 2 white babies to the wrong Moms. The other Dad came in, took a look at me and said that this was not his baby. Luckily, the other baby was a boy and so the nurse came into the room and "checked our passports". The proof was there and each baby went to his or her own Mom.
Our life in China was a good life. My Dad had an import/ export store and deli and my Mom stayed home to take care of the family. A few year later my parents had a son and life was really great. We had a cook, a maid, a houseboy, and each of the children had their own Ama(nursemaid).
This fun, pleasant, extravagent lifestyle was not to last. The Chinese Communist forces had their start in northwestern China and eventually conquered the rest of the nation. Knowing that Mao Tse Tong's forces would occupy Shanghai, we again had to flee to keep our freedom. My Dad had originally booked first class passage on a nice liner, but then got a letter from my uncle in Seattle who told him that American Lines would be striking and that he should get passage on the General Gordon, for that would be the last ship out of China. Luckily, because he had money, we were able to get passage on that ship. My Dad and Grandpa and all of the men were on the level with the rooms and the children and women were put into the cargo hold. I remember seeing a sea of bunk beds with 2 people per bunk. I was with my Mom and my brother was with my Grandma. The conditions were terrible and many, many people were seasick. My parents have told me that I was very near death on that trip. We were each given a bowl of rice a day to sustain us, but what saved me is that my Dad and Grandpa would take turns smuggling fruit to us. They would stand near a pole that led to the cargo area(like a fireman's pole) and when noone was looking the would drop down an orange. My Mom or Grandma, who were also seasick, would catch it and feed it to me and my brother. When the ship came into San Francisco Bay and the passengers could see land, many of them were so excited and thankful that they fell to the floor thanking God for their safety and protection. Many were kissing the floor, so grateful were they for having their freedom. My parents carried me off the ship, but as you can see I survived and thrived.
I have really led a blessed life. My parents were the best and so were my grandparents who lived with us for quite a while. We first lived across the bay from San Francisco in Richmond Annex and then when I was in 7th grade, we moved to "The City". I finished High School there at George Washington High School and then I attended San Francisco State University. I loved going to school and I had lots of friends and lots of fun growing up. The school year was busy with studies and also after school twice a week and on Saturday's I attended russian school. In the summers we relaxed and spent much of the summer at Russian River. My Dad and the other Dad's would come up to the river on the week-ends while the Moms and kids spent their weeks there. I was often lucky enough to have my friend come with me. We always had a great time together.
My first job was as a cashier for a nice shoe store in Stonestown, S.F. It was for the Christmas season. Then I worked for the City of Paris, a very fancy department store in downtown S.F. I worked there throughout my college years. Then I worked for 6 months as an underwriter's assistant for Liberty Mutual Insurance Company. In June of 1965 I got married and in Sept. I started my first "real job" teaching 4th grade at Mills Elementary in Benecia Ca. After that I taught for 4 years in Burlingame, 3rd and 4th grades. Then DH graduated and we moved to So. Ca. I became a stay at home Mom and I loved it. My favorite thing in the world is to be a Mom. I absolutely loved it. We have 8 children, 7 of them living. We had 5 biological children and then adopted 3. It has been a real joy and a blessing to have these children. We now have 12 grandchildren and 1 more on the way. We are also going to be great grandparents to sweet little Tatum. The year before we adopted our children, I sustitute taught for for Lancaster School Dist. and some time later when all of the children were in school, I was a reading specialist for Palmdale Sch. Dist for 12 yrs. After that I taught 4th again and the Kindergarten in Rosamond, C. Teaching Kndg. was my most favorite job. I loved it. I loved the kids and we just had the best time together. It was also the easiest job I ever had. We moved to Ft. Worth, Texas almost 4 years ago and lived there for 3 years. I taught and was an aide in a class for handicapped children there at Lake Worth High School. I always loved teaching and being with the kids. For me it was never a drugery to go to work. It was a pleasure.
I have been blessed with an awesome family. I have a wonderful husband and terrific children and grandchildren. I feel so lucky that all of my children like me. I have a great daughter-in-law and terrific sons-in-law. I have had trials in my life, deaths, miscarriages, illnesses, and surgeries(my own and my children), and daily problems that we all have, but all in all I have had a blessed, happy, joyeous life. I have the most wonderful friends who have been so supportive and caring and whom I love very much. I have a strong belief in God and in Jesus Christ and I thank them for all of my blessings. They are the number one important thing in my life.
Now DH and I are serving a mission for the Lord. We are having a great time doing this. We have already had so many special experiences. We love working with the youth and with the missionaries. Tonight as we arrived for our meeting early because they tricked us into coming early, the young missionaries had a surprise birthday for me. They all sang to me and we had cake, cookies, juice, potatoe chips, and of course french bread. We are in France you know. We must have french bread. Tomorrow the young adults have a surprise party planned for me. One of the girls gave it away, but I am instructed to be very surprised and I sure will be.:) I feel very happy and touched that they are all going to so much trouble to wish me the best.


Nancy Face said...


Nancy Face said...

What a fascinating story! :)

Nancy Face said...

Gee whiz, it's fun being first, second and third! ;)

Head Nurse or Patient- you be the judge said...

Best Birthday Wishes! Your history is amazing and thank you so much for sharing it with us.

Anna said...

Happy birthday!!!

txmommy said...

Happy Birthday!!!

The Texas Bakers said...

Happy birthday! What a wonderful story you have to tell.

nikko said...

Happy Birthday! I love hearing your story. It's so interesting to me!

Yvonne said...

OH, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MY FRIEND. You have had an amazing life. I enjoyed reading this SO MUCH.

Maybe we were at Russian River together. I remember going there once (maybe twice) during the summer ; )

The Wendler Family said...

I officially loved reading this post! What a great story! I love all of the details of your life. They are so fun to read! No wonder you are such an amazing woman! I'm glad you made it on that boat, I can't imagine how awful that must have been.
Happy Birthday!
With Love

Catherine said...

So insteresting ! Natalie.
Did your father learn you to speak Russian ? What a life he got ! So many time moving from one place to an other. It certainly gave him, adaptability in his life, as in yours.
The confusion at your birth, is incredible ! Imagine what would have been your life if they didn't realize the mistake !
Once else, Joyeux Anniversaire

Peter and Sharon Anderson said...

Dearest Friend Natalie, I love the story of your life every time I hear it. I am working on a time line for the modern world 1600 to present. Of the 36 events I have featured, one is the Russian Revolution and one is Mao and the Cultural Revolution. I am so grateful Heavenly Father brought you safely to America and then brought you and John to the Mojave Desert to become our friends. And a great big Happy Birthday (a couple of days late according to earth time -- but I guess my wishes are not late according to eternity where there is no time and where we will still be friends!)

Love and blessings, Sharon and Peter

PS If you ever have time, check out my Sunday blog each week at .

Robin said...

I so love you. I miss you lots everyday. Its os neat that they love you guys to over there...BUT come on who wouldn't. Sotty this is late I was at gorls camp then Aaron and Kim got married.. and life moves on. Happy Birthday my dear friend.