Posted: Sunday, June 3, 2012 7:12 am by Stacie Spring, Tribune
With the birth of Christopher Daniel Forrest on Feb. 4, Destinee Wentworth of Mesa welcomed the sixth living generation of her family into the world.
“I think the record is seven,” Destinee said with a laugh. “Don’t think we’ll make it that far.”
The family made a point to get everyone together to take a picture as soon as possible after Destinee’s first son was born. That’s a trying task since some of the family tree isn’t exactly in the Phoenix area. Barbra Culp, 90, lives in Tucson. Culp’s daughter, Anita Ellsworth, 75, is in Pinal County. And her daughter, Barbra Spear, 56, and Spear’s son, Eric Wentworth, 35, live in the Valley.
“You always look for family characteristics,” said Anita, the maternal great-great-grandmother of Christopher. “Right now he looks so much like his daddy, but that’s OK.”
For Destinee, introducing Christopher to his extended family only reflects the love she has been given by the multiple generations who have loved her.
“It’s heartwarming to me to have so many people who love him,” she said. “To know that he has the chance to know so many generations of his family is very special.”
The family has always been large, and with generations that often overlapped, many family titles such as cousin or niece or aunt often disappeared, Destinee said.
“For us family is just family,” she said.
And knowing multiple generations is nothing new to Destinee.
“We’ve had five generations on both sides before,” she said. “But never six. From what I understand, it’s quite rare.”
Although a few family members live in different cities, they all get together for the major holidays.
“It’s a real blessing,” Destinee said. “A lot of people take things for granted, but family isn’t one of them for us.”
Growing up, she spent much of her time with her many grandmothers. That includes one memorable summer she spent a week with her great-grandmother, Anita. Destinee insisted she have an entire dresser emptied to make room for her week’s worth of clothing, Anita recalled with a laugh.
“Destinee’s always been sure of what she wants,” Anita chuckled. “She is always the family entertainer, always singing and dancing for us. I have it all on tape.”
While many people grow up not knowing their grandparents and never meeting their great-grandparents, Wentworth feels especially blessed.
“It’s such a great support system,” she said.
It can’t be ignored that Destinee is a teenage mother, something she isn’t shy about addressing. Yet if she hadn’t had a child so young, it’s quite likely that so many generations of her family would not have met.
“I am not a statistic: I have never done drugs, I’m still with the father of my child, I’m a full-time student,” she said, adding that she worked part-time leading up to Christopher’s birth.
Wentworth just finished up her second semester at Mesa Community College. She is working on her associate’s degree in psychology, eventually hoping to transfer to a four-year university to pursue a degree that would allow her to work with special education children, she said.
“It took my parents a couple weeks to get used to it,” Wentworth said of the pregnancy. “They said they wanted things to be easier for me, but I don’t see it as an obstacle. It’s not a roadblock. It’s a stepping stone.”
Getting an education is even more important to her, so that she can set a positive example for her son, she said glancing to the hallway where Christopher took an afternoon nap.
“There have always been strong women in this family, and it’s even more true with each generation,” she said.