52 Ancestors Week #9 – Mary Leella Hughes – Close to Home

Mom, Dad, Bro & SisMary Leella “Le” Hughes was born on February 17, 1951 in Lexington, Missouri. She was the first child of Douglas and Emmajane (Smith) Hughes.  Le is my older and only sister and although our relationship was very rocky she was always the closest person to me. Because of this relationship it is very difficult to write about her. Try as I might, I cannot remember one good thing about her.

Me, Gordon, Le
Me, Gordon, Le

For the first four years of her life she was spoiled by everyone. We have an older brother, Gordon, who was fourteen years older than Le. He overindulged her. When I came along she was jealous, she was no longer the center of everyone’s world.

truckMy very first memory was when I was three years old. My maternal Uncle and his family had come to Arizona from Missouri for a visit. Le, three of my cousins and I were playing in the back of my Dad’s 1953 Ford pickup truck. To be honest, no one liked her because she was extremely mean, so the cousins were avoiding her and were just chasing me around the bed of the truck. Le got mad, picked me up and threw me over the edge of the truck. I landed on a 2×4 board that lined the driveway. My right arm was broken in three places, including having my wrist bone come through my skin! My Dad and Uncle rushed me to the doctor and he set my arm and put on a cast. I was so small that I used a regular sized bandana as a sling. Le never got in trouble.


This was the first of many, many incidents that happened not only throughout our childhood but on into adulthood. Le never married or had children and she lived with our Mother until her death in 1999. Le had diabetes and had to have both of her legs amputated just below her knees. After Mother’s death she had to move into a nursing home. Le died on September 22, 2012 at the age of 61.

I struggle with writing about both my sister and my Mother, because of the broken relationships I had with them. Also, so many things happened during my childhood that sounds so unbelievable, I hesitate to write about them. So the question is how much should I write about them since there isn’t much nice to say. How much truth is too much truth? What does the future generations really need to know? So much about writing about my sister brings many things a little “to close to home”.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: http://tinyurl.com/Your-Family-History and http://tinyurl.com/Genealogy-Research-Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

7 thoughts on “52 Ancestors Week #9 – Mary Leella Hughes – Close to Home

  1. It is an unfortunate relationship you had with your sister. I think nothing more needs to be said in a blog, it was a strained situation for all.
    Some things need to left unsaid, and documented elsewhere.
    Just my opinion.

  2. Valerie,
    I am so sorry that your relationship with your sister was not one that you would have probably wanted to have with her. I have been around jealous siblings (friends/relatives) and I have seen firsthand the havoc they wreak. It is unfortunate.

    I wonder if jealousy was her only motivation, especially since she was so young? Your brother doted on her so you think that would have made a difference. Yet your cousins didn’t care for her, did that continue as she grew older? I can’t imagine what went through your young mind not understanding her behavior.

    As far as what you write, only you can decided what is too much or not enough. You were very fair to your sister in this blog. You told your truth and stated the facts. Who are we to tell you what to write or not about your childhood experiences. If you feel the need to write about it then follow your heart. You are a fair and kind person nothing you’ve written suggests you are trying to bash them. I do see your struggle and I do see you trying to find some good in it. You said it yourself when you said, “there isn’t much nice to say” which means there is a little. Personally, I don’t see any harm in you telling your story. Your childhood experiences made you the kind and compassionate woman that you are today. Those experiences will tell your future generations who you are and how you got there.

    Sorry this was so long. Bernita

    1. Bernita,

      Thank you for your kind, encouraging words. I do try to be fair but sometimes it is hard to do. I believe that my sister may have had a mental illness like my Mother, just not as severe. I try to remember this when I think of things that happened when I was younger and I think it gives be a better perspective.

      I really appreciate your comments and you reading my blogs!


      1. Valerie,
        You are more than welcome. We have all been there in deciding what to publicly write about. There are stories that I’ve written that I don’t publish and probably never will, but I do still write them. You may be right about your sister’s condition, sometimes those things do undiagnosed. This is your story and as long as you tell the truth with fairness and kindness (like you’ve done) don’t second guess yourself.

  3. I personally don’t see anything wrong with writing about it. I was once told not to tell anyone about something that happen. I felt alone and I decided not to. Because it might help someone else out there. Most of us go through things we should never had to. The more we keep quiet to me that allows that to grow. We need to educate others to stop the cycles that continue to grow.

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