Eldest child of family postpones education

Ashley Hendrix

Good night Katherine, good night Grace, good night Joshua – this isn’t “The Waltons”, but the Rees family, and Elizabeth is the oldest of them all.

Elizabeth, sophomore political science major, is one of 10 brothers and sisters: Katherine, Victoria, Grace, Faith, Joshua, Charity, Christian, Revelation and Heaven.

“They are all a true blessing from God,” said Debra Rees, Elizabeth’s mother.

Elizabeth has six sisters and three brothers ranging from the ages of four to 22. As one would guess, she is the mother hen of the bunch.

“I have lots of responsibility being the oldest,” Elizabeth said.

Elizabeth’s mother seems to agree with her. Debra said she has always been mature.

“Elizabeth is a very mature and responsible individual, we never really had to teach her that,” Debra said.

Elizabeth thinks she was a little more sheltered than the rest of the children. However, it has its advantages – she was the first to do anything. But being the oldest also meant she didn’t get to do things until she was older.

“I couldn’t get my ears pierced until I was 13,” Elizabeth said, “and when I did, my younger sisters started getting their ears pierced just a few months after me.”

However, Elizabeth’s parents didn’t let having so many children stand in the way of having a one-on-one relationship with each, and neither did Elizabeth. Their parents and Elizabeth work hard at making each child feel like they have something special with them. They do plenty of family outings, but they do many things with each individual child as well. Elizabeth said as a sister, just like a parent, you have to build a special bond between all of them.

“I take an active role in knowing each individual,” she said.

Elizabeth said she remembers one particular time when her father, Roger, took each child out individually to go deer hunting. She thought it was fun and gave everyone some one-on-one with their father. Although they all went hunting, Elizabeth happened to be the only one to see a deer that year. She felt privileged.

“He shot three or four times, and then I saw it go down,” Elizabeth said. “It was really neat.”

She said growing up on a farm made her childhood more enjoyable. They would go and help feed hay and grain, which gave them the opportunity to ride the tractor. Then they would all go in to help their mother cook supper.

“Growing up on the farm made some really good memories,” Elizabeth said.

The Rees family outings were much like life on the farm — everyone helped out.

“Each child has different responsibilities,” Debra said.

Everyone would do their share in making sure everyone was always accounted for.

“The older ones would watch the younger, and the middle ones would help keep track of each other,” Elizabeth said.

Elizabeth and her family have had their share of drama.

“God led us through all of it,” Debra said.

When Elizabeth was only a little older than a year Victoria, her younger sister, had to have open-heart surgery at three months old.

“This really scared me, and I was content with three children,” Debra said. “But God had other plans.”

Then not long after she graduated high school, Elizabeth’s younger brother, Christian, was diagnosed with Leukemia. She thinks this was the most difficult time in her life.

“You never think that it could happen to you,” Elizabeth said. “I was shocked and in denial.”

This is why Elizabeth is a 23-year-old sophomore. She chose to put off college for a couple years to help her mother with everything.

“I told her it was her decision to stay or go on,” Debra said.

Christian spent years going to the hospital and doing chemotherapy. This was a hard time for the whole family.

“It was really hard to watch him go through the chemo,” Elizabeth said.

Now, Christian is eight and cancer free.

Elizabeth has had to go through rough times such as these, but she always looks on the bright side.

With all the hard times she still is optimistic.

“Enjoy life wherever it takes you,” Elizabeth said. “You never know where you might end up.”