Chapter One:  The Early Years

I began life as Diana Faye Abernathy.  On March 29, 1959, I was born to Jacob Monroe Abernathy, Jr. and Betty Jewel Hogue Abernathy.  I was child number five in a family that would eventually have seven children.  My position in the family was unique and had a tremendous impact on my life.   Before I was born, my family had lived in the city of St. Louis.  A few years prior, my parents made the decision to move to rural Leslie, Missouri.  They wanted to raise their children where they could be connected to the land.  My father continued to work in the city and made a long daily commute to provide for his family.  He built our home with his bare hands on weekend and evenings.  My sister, Joyce, was closest to my age.  She was seven years older.  My brother, Jerry, the eldest child in the family, was twelve years older than me.  My sister, Brenda, and brother, Mike, filled in the spaces between.  I am told that I was a surprise baby, and there were two more surprises after me.  My sister, Pam, arrived three years after me.  My sister, Debbie, was born when I was nine.  I was no longer merely child number five, but the eldest of the second wave of children.  During most of my life in my parentís home, I was the eldest child living there, and thus developed the characteristics most often associated with the first-born.