Today my sister would be celebrating her 50th birthday. 50! And my dad is celebrating his birthday, too. The date is intermingled – an event that was always a dual celebration in our house. I thought it was a special kind of magic that two people not related by blood would share such an important date. It’s like they were destined to be family.
This may surprise some people who know my family – my dad is not Aimee’s genetic father. Dad met my mom in Christchurch, New Zealand when Aimee was but a year old and adopted her when she was…Maybe 6? These things took a while back in the day. I know that my dad, in his inimitable way, decided to marry my mom within days of meeting her and that my mom, badass that she was, made no bones about the fact that she was a proud single mom and that to love her was to love her daughter. This was 1968 – she was staking out her ground and daring a man with vision and courage meet her on her own terms.
Dad was the man for the job. A young naval officer at the time stationed in Antarctica (he got an island in the Antarctic named after him for his efforts – imagine that!), Dad accepted the challenge and went to battle for her hand and her daughter.
I mean this literally. My grandmother, Dorothea, was the most badass warrior woman God ever created. She fought on Burma Road in WWII and no half-witted, soft-lad Yankee was going to steal her beloved Granddaughter and spirit her off to the God-forsaken wilds of America. Let’s just say that woman knew how to wield a machete and was not afraid to use it.
In my father’s usual quiet way, once he set his mind to something, he went and did it. He won my mother’s hand with his keen mind and sense of humor then he won over my grandmother with his courage under fire.
And my sister? He won her heart with his willingness to enter her world and search for Christopher Robin and the Hundred Acre Wood. I think they found it somewhere near Morgan Hill back before there was silicon in our valley and orchards still covered the land. I’m sure wherever it was it smelled divine – like cherry blossoms and old oak trees.
And that was the start of our family – Mom, Dad and Aimee. I came along a few years later, and then, pulling up the rear, my brother.
And here we are, 50 years after her birth. We carry on without our beloved daughter and sister. But the link between us all, the invisible thread that ties us together is still there. This is one of the secrets you learn when you lose someone before their time – if you keep telling their stories, they are still with you. Until the last story is told.
Here’s to more stories and more memories. Happy Birthday Dad. And to Aimee, wherever you are 💙💙💙