Ten times the love
THE FAMILY Brian Eifert, center, holds his daughter, Alice, 2, while surrounded by his other children Charlotte, 3, sitting left; Bettye Nilsen, 7; Gretha, 11; Jeffrey, 16;
Ellis, 18; Cora, 14; Christian, 12; Anna, 9; and McCaleb, 5. Brian and his wife, Libby, say they may even have more children. Photo by Penny Randall/The Meridian Star
By Penny Randall / staff writer
June 15, 2003
There's one Kemper County home that is filled with 10 times the noise, 10 times the laughter and 10 times the love.
And today, on this day to honor our fathers, one dad will receive 10 times the hugs from his children wishing him Happy Father's Day.
Brian and Libby Eifert are the parents of Ellis, 18; Jeffrey, 16; Cora, 14; Christian, 12; Gretha, 11; Anna, 9; Bettye Nilsen, 7; McCaleb, 5; Charlotte, 3; and Alice, who turns 2 in July.
The Eiferts were high school sweethearts. They married on Dec. 29, 1983, the same year they graduated from college. Their first son, Ellis, was born on May 27, 1985.
Brian, 42, was raised in Peru. His parents are still missionaries there. He returned to the United States to attend high school in Asheville, N.C.
Libby, 41, is a native of Asheville and now a full-time homemaker who homeschools their children.
The family lives in a modest home in Kemper County complete with white picket fence, horse barn and plenty of fields to explore.
Two may be enough
Despite having 10 children now, there was a time when Brian thought maybe two would be enough.
Late into her second pregnancy with their son, Jeffrey, Libby found out that she had lymphoma, cancer of the lymph nodes.
Libby went straight into taking radiation therapy and now more than 15 years later, she is cancer free.
But a year after her radiation therapy, Libby was pregnant with their first daughter, Cora, now 14.
The Eiferts moved to the area in 1995 after Brian completed his medical residency in Jackson and was offered a position as a radiologist with Meridian Radiology Associates. He practices at Riley Hospital and Jeff Anderson Regional Medical Center.
The children take part in a variety of activities; several are members of the Meridian Children's Chorus and others compete regularly in sporting events, including the State Games of Mississippi.
But there is one thing that the household does not have a television.
Most of the older children are accomplished musicians, playing either the piano, violin or cello. They have gardens and horses to tend and their household choirs to complete on a daily basis.
The Eiferts' oldest child, Ellis, will be a senior next year and then plans to head off to college.
He said having nine brothers and sisters is great.
Brian did have a thought on what it takes to raise a large family in this day and age.
But on the other hand he said, laughing, "We've got a number of weddings ahead of us. Ask me again in 10 years when I'm in the middle of my seven daughters' weddings and potentially 10 college tuitions."
Brian firmly believes that parents need to communicate.
Family time is special in the Eifert home. Nightly reading sessions are the children's favorite.
Five-year-old McCaleb loves having a bunch of siblings for one reason: "We can have tea parties together," she said.
And 16-year-old Jeffrey said, "There's never a dull moment in the day."
But the question everyone wants to know is, "Will the Eiferts have more children?"
Libby adds: "We've taken whatever God has given us and at whatever timing. And it's been a pretty natural spacing about every two years."