On Being a Weasley
Compiled by Nundu
Revision date: June 17, 2004
From my very first reading of the Harry Potter books, I have related directly
to the Weasley’s. The comparisons to their lives and mine as a child are numerous.
I am one of seven children raised in relative poverty by parents that did not
see that poverty as a hindrance, but merely a circumstance. Each of us was different,
but very loved and nurtured. Until my tenth year we lived in a progression of
inner-city apartments, as my father struggled to find a career to support the
burgeoning family. He finally found his niche as a minor civil servant and we
moved to the ‘suburbs.’ An aging home in a tiny town, it was not quite as ramshackle
as ‘The Burrow’, but it did not strike one as the perfect home for a family
of nine! The two bedrooms and one bath cottage had a large rambling attic that
was turned into a dormitory for the older children, with curtain partitions
to give privacy between genders. This area was in a state of construction for
another 30 years until it was finally converted into the promised bedrooms.
A pull down ladder gave us access to the upstairs until my sister’s wedding
gave reason to need a proper staircase from which she could throw her bouquet.
We even had a family ghost who did not restrict himself to the attic, but roamed
the house at will, adding to the overall chaos and melee of life by hiding whatever
it was we were looking for, causing screeches in the aging cast iron pipes and
all sorts of bumps, particularly in the night.
We lived within walking distance of our schools. Every morning was a challenge
for everyone to tumble out the door dressed and packed for the day. We trouped
down the road dropping off siblings as we passed their school. Once at secondary
school, I found myself, as Ron does, trying to prove my place. I followed in
the footsteps of three sisters that had each made their own place. One had made
her place as an academic, one was the athlete, one was just overpowering with
her personality (and flaming red hair!). I had always been quiet and withdrawn,
but approached secondary school with the attitude that I would make my mark.
I didn’t have a Mirror of Erised, but I saw similar desires to Ron’s when I
looked into myself. It was difficult proving myself as a different entity from
my sisters to our teachers, but by the end of seven years, I, too, had made
my mark in honours, drama and sports. All the while our parents encouraged us
to be our own, separate person and find our own separate strengths. Others looked
at us a one of seven; our parents looked at us as seven ones.
Where does the love come from for seven children? How do the Weasley’s consider
taking on two extra teens in the summer? Do you know how much a growing teen
eats? How can they afford that? How does the strain of housing, clothing, and
feeding this huge brood not take a toll on the souls of parents? That is the
greatest mystery of life. Love never divides, it only multiplies. My parents
took on many a surrogate child, some more permanently than others. Our home
was always open to any child in need of a loving hug, warm meal, or even just
a place to ‘crash’ after school. There was never a question as to whether feeding
another mouth was financially feasible. The pot always held another bowl of
soup, and the oven always offered out another loaf of my mother’s signature
homemade bread. Was the house ever neat and spotlessly clean? Never in my memory.
Was the house ever lacking in room for one more? Never in my memory. Even as
the years passed, as we moved out as adults, the house was always full of teens.
First, primarily friends of my younger siblings, but even afterwards, teens
found their way to the not quite ‘empty nest’ of our home. When mother passed
away at the age of 80, there was still a teen girl living in our house that
we called a sister, even though most of us had children older than her. Mother
had one more child that needed raising, and had done so to her last breath.
What will be the Weasley legacy? I can only hope that of my parents. A home
that always offered what a child needed, whether a child by birth or surrogate.
Loving arms to give hugs that had been denied. Food cooked with love rather
than abhorrence. Encouragement of the soul rather than squelching of individuality.
These are the real necessities of life.