Sunday, November 27, 2011

We Want YOU!

Hi everyone, Katie here.

Thank you so much for tuning in to Searching For A Girl, the story of Glogirly's search for her biological roots. Every single one of your comments touched her heart. She's working on the epilogue and will be including some details about what's happened since. It's been four years now since she found Dorothy and the rest of the family.

As long as Glogirly's story was, there were many details omitted. Things you might enjoy knowing about. So We Want YOU! We want your questions that is.

If there is anything you'd like to know...anything at all...just leave your questions in the comments or send us an email. (there's a link to our email address in our profile) We'll be sure to include your questions and answers in the epilogue.

Now it's onto more pressing matters like, what will I blog about next? Certainly there are some wrongs that need to be righted, some grievances that deserve to be aired.

I'm on it!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Chapter 17 - Beloved Mother And Sister

Glogirly and Dorothy said their goodbye's to Jim, Armie, Craig and Angela. Glogirly promised to come back soon. They drove down the winding dirt trail through the two cattle gates and onto the main road, Clark Valley Road. Glogirly thought about her grandfather and how he had built the very road they were driving on. The ranch property became smaller and smaller in the rear window as they drove away. Two miles down, at the end of the curvy road was the highway that would take them back north, towards the San Francisco airport.

But first there was one last stop to make. Just across the highway from Clark Valley Road was Los Osos Memorial Park, the cemetery where Glogirly's grandparents, Dorothy's husband Larry, Jeanette's husband Charles were all laid to rest. This was also the cemetery where Alice was buried.

Glogirly's grandfather, Richard H. Beecham, built the original cemetery.

Dorothy brought Glogirly over to the mausoleum where her grandparents were. Richard Harvey Beecham and Nevah Arthur Beecham. Glogirly never really had grandparents. Only her dad's mother was alive at the time she was adopted and she passed away before Glogirly was old enough to remember her much. She stood there watching Dorothy, reading the names of her grandparents. She walked over to the wall and ran her hand over the smooth letters of their names.

Dorothy and her parents, Glogirly's grandparents.
Richard H. and Nevah B. Beecham.

Everyone she'd met told Glogirly that she must have inherited her artistic and musical talent from her grandmother, Nevah. Nevah was a painter and an artist. She could play any musical instrument she laid her hands on, just by ear. None of her children really inherited that talent though. Glogirly's adoptive parents were not artistic either. They loved music, but couldn't play it. They encouraged Glogirly's art, but couldn't draw or paint themselves. Glogirly was different. She was born with a gift and loved everything from crayons to paint. She brought drawing paper and pastels on every family vacation. Art was her favorite subject in school. She later went to college for design and art. Even now, she uses her artistic talent everyday. When Glogirly took piano lessons, her teachers told her that she had a natural gift few people had. She connected with the music she played in a way that captivated the listener. It was a gift. And that gift had to have come from somewhere. Glogirly believes it came from Nevah.

They walked over to Dorothy's husband's grave. Glogirly thought about her search and finding the death records for Dorothy and Jeanette's husbands. They were just words on a computer screen then, but seeing Dorothy standing at her husband's grave was something quite different and much more powerful than words.

The last grave they visited was Alice's. What Glogirly saw, shook her to her core. She could hardly breathe. She couldn't speak. The only movement came from the tears that were streaming down her face.

The marker on Alice's grave was a sad, little metal frame. It measured about 5 inches by 7 inches. Rusted and bent from the elements, with grass reaching out from the inside corners, it held a torn piece of plastic over a sheet of paper. Typed on the stained paper: "Alice M. Beecham 1936-1996."


Glogirly's heart physically ached. The woman that had given birth to her, had sacrificed so much to give her a chance at a life with a loving family, had nothing more than a temporary grave marker. It was as if her life hadn't mattered.

Dorothy felt terrible. She explained that someone was to have arranged for an appropriate marker, said they did, but apparently never had. She didn't even know until then.

Glogirly took out her camera and photographed Alice's frame. It was all she had of her.

She and Dorothy walked to the car in silence and then left for the airport.

It was a few miles before either of them spoke. Glogirly had an idea. But she needed to contain her emotions so she could speak without falling apart. When she was ready she told Dorothy that she wanted to do something with her. Then it was as if they were inside each other's thoughts. Almost in unison, Dorothy and Glogirly said to each other that they wanted to get a proper marker for Alice's grave. Glogirly said it would mean a great deal to her to be able to do it with Dorothy. Dorothy couldn't agree more. She said Alice had loved roses and they should pick one that had roses on it. Alice was spiritual and devoted to her church. A cross would be nice too.

Glogirly added that her full name should appear on the marker. Alice Mae Beecham. Glogirly's adoptive mother's name was Eunice Mae. It was a small connection that she wanted to honor.

Then Dorothy added one more thing. She reached over and took Glogirly's hand. "It should read, Beloved Mother & Sister."

And so it did.

Beloved Mother and Sister

The End

For Dorothy

Glogirly's story is far from over. It continues to unfold even today.
Please come back soon for the Epilogue.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Chapter 16 - Surprise Of A Lifetime

Hi everyone, Katie here.

Thanks for coming back for the next chapter! There's just a couple left and you won't want to miss a single word. Many of you have commented on how generous I am to loan my blog out to Glogirly and her story for so long. I know I'm generous, sweet, good-looking too. I'm a cat and that's just how I roll.

Ok, here we go!

Ever since Glogirly uncovered the identities of her birth family, she had dreamed about hopping on a plane and showing up at someones doorstep. Surprise! There was just something so compelling about the element of surprise. Of course, she knew that approach was not in anyone's best interest.

Suddenly things changed though. With an open invitation up to Jim's family barbecue and Dorothy by her side, Glogirly was about to embark on the surprise of a lifetime. She wasn't just going to shock her uncle, but the whole family. Dorothy was almost giddy. Glogirly hoped her uncle had a strong heart.

About two miles up the winding road from the highway was the entrance to the Beecham Ranch. Through a cattle gate and up a steep dirt road, Glogirly could just barely make out a ranch style home off to her right. A bunch of large earth moving equipment was parked off to the the left at the base of a big gravel pit. Jim's son Craig ran that part of the family business. The first house they pulled up to was Craig's. Craig and his wife Angela had two boys and one girl. There was no telling if anyone would be at the house since the barbecue was up at Jim and Armi's home, just a little farther up the dirt road.

Dorothy pulled up next to Craig's house. She and Glogirly walked around back looking for anyone that might be there. The back of the house looked more like it was the front. The long ranch style home opened up to a crescent shaped patio area. It overlooked the rolling hills and deep valleys of the ranch property. Way down at the bottom, almost out of view, was the original house that Dorothy and Alice had grown up in. Glogirly's grandfather built the house himself and forged all the roads that wound throughout the area, up, down and around those beautiful hills.

The house that Craig's family now lived in was also where he grew up. Until just a few years prior, it had belonged to his parents, Jim and Armi. When they built a new home about a quarter mile up the road, Craig and his family moved in their old one. That's where they're raising their family today.

Dorothy opened up the sliding glass door from the patio into the kitchen. There was Craig. He was standing in the kitchen, just on the other side of the breakfast table, eating a grilled cheese sandwich. He was wearing a cowboy hat, boots and a big buckled belt. He was cutting his sandwich with a hunting knife and looked completely at home as a cowboy straight from the ranch. He was surprised to see Dorothy and motioned her in right away. He looked at Glogirly with a puzzled expression and before Dorothy could say a word, Glogirly walked over and introduced herself as Debbie and shook his hand. Then Dorothy said, "Craig, this is Debbie. She's your cousin." With her voice cracking and tears welling in her eyes, "She's Alice's daughter."

Craig's eyes opened wide and the knife and cheese sandwich dropped to the table with a thud. "No sh*t! Well get over here and let me give you a hug."

He welcomed her right into the family. Of course he wanted to know how on earth it was that she had found them. But they needed to get up to the big house to meet everyone else so Dorothy and Glogirly gave him the quick and abbreviated version of the story. He was shocked. Couldn't believe it. Wow.

They made their way up to Jim's house. Everyone was gathered on the patio and the barbecue was already fired up. Dorothy quietly pointed out to Glogirly where Jim and Armi were, then walked her right over to them.

Jim was sitting sideways on one of the picnic table benches in the sunshine. His arm was resting comfortably on the table and he looked right at home. He had on a well-worn western hat and work boots. He looked exactly as Dorothy had described him. Even at 80 years-old, he was no stranger to hard work. His hands were a working man's hands. Still there was something very distinguished about him. The rolling hills of the ranch made a beautiful backdrop to the patio. There were some sheep baahing in the distance.

Armi was standing not far behind. She had on a cotton shirt and dungarees. She was so tiny, not even 5' tall. Her hair was salt and pepper black. The lines in her face were very expressive and she spoke with her hands. She was very animated. There was indeed something mysterious about her, maybe even a little intimidating. Dorothy had mentioned that she read palms and gave psychic readings from time to time. She actually looked the part.

As Dorothy walked Glogirly over to Jim, a few people looked their way, wondering who that must be with her. Jim's face lit up when he saw Dorothy. "Well, look who's here!"

"Jim, I'd like you to meet Debbie." Dorothy was already choked up and had a hard time finishing. "Debbie is Alice's daughter."

Jim got right up off of the bench. "Well I'll be...well come on over here and let me give you a hug." No handshakes were necessary. "Welcome to the family."

TOP LEFT: Jim, completely in his element
TOP RIGHT: Armi's Psychic Readings
LOWER LEFT: Craig and Jim
LOWER RIGHT: Armi and Glogirly

The buzz was spreading and everyone was coming over to see what all the fuss was. It was the surprise of a lifetime. Glogirly must have told the story of her search twenty times. Each time, everyone was riveted. When they found out how little information Glogirly had to go on, not even a name, they just shook their heads in amazement. You went through all that to find US? Well we hope you're not too disappointed!

A few even told Glogirly she had a future as a private detective.

Jim's wife, Armi, even got in on the excitement. She couldn't stop hugging Glogirly. Every time she did, her head would fit just perfectly underneath Glogirly's chin. She kept saying that Glogirly must look like her father because she didn't much look like the Beecham's.

Alice & Glogirly

Everyone else though saw the resemblance. Glogirly had her mother's eyes, her cheeks and her smile. They had the same fair skin.

As the excitement was calming, Craig's wife Angela showed up. A genealogy buff, she was fascinated. She wanted to hear every single detail. Her eyes would open wide and she'd cover her mouth with her hands as Glogirly walked her through the steps of her search. Angela was fascinated and couldn't stop asking questions.

The Beecham's had welcomed Glogirly into the family with arms opened wide. They made her promise to come back and come back often. Glogirly told them all about her Gloman and they were anxious to meet him. It was Armi that took hold of her hands, looked right into her eyes and said, "I know you already have a family that loves you, dear. But you can never have too much family. We're your family now too."

It was quite a kick for Glogirly. She'll never forget the expressions on her family's faces as they realized who she was. It took many of them a few seconds to register everything. After all, they hadn't even thought about Alice and the baby she gave up for years. It was like running into a very old friend and slowly recalling the memories one at a time. For some it happened in slow motion.

It was quite a day. And for many, the surprise of a lifetime.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Chapter 15 - Jim

Hi everyone, Katie here.

Welcome back to Another Mother. There's only a few chapters left and you won't want to miss a single one! All this typing...I'm going to add it to my own resume. Next time Glogirly thinks she's going to use me as a personal assistant and ghost writer, she's going to have to come up with a salmon bonus package.

Ok, here we go!

Glogirly was very curious about Jim, the oldest brother, and his family. She remembered her first phone conversation with Sharon. Sharon kept it vague, but it was clear that something had once driven a wedge into the family. Not Sharon, her mother Jeanette, or any of her immediate family had seen or spoken to Jim's family in over 20 years. They hadn't even gone to Alice's funeral because of this mysterious rift.

Yet so far, Dorothy had spoken very highly of her older brother. She admired his work ethic, his dedication to family and his deep respect for their parents. She had always been impressed by his business instincts and moral code. He was the one after all that carried on the family business. He was probably the smartest person she had ever known.

Dorothy and her brother, Jim.

Dorothy thought it was important though, to explain a few things before they decided whether or not to call on Jim.

Years ago, Jim's wife Armrel, Armi for short, had been quite mean to her and in particular to Alice. It was something that Dorothy had worked very hard to get past. Armi was kind of an outsider. She was a tiny little Armenian woman with a larger than life personality. She wasn't one to mince words. She could be blunt with her opinions and judgements. As a result, some of the family had distanced themselves from her.

Even Dorothy confessed that years ago, Armi had written some very hurtful things to her in a letter. It took a long time for her to get past those words. But Dorothy was the peacekeeper of the family. She loved her brother very much and would never turn her back on him. She had the utmost respect and adoration for her parents. Dorothy wore her feelings on her sleeve and wasn't scared to speak her mind. But to her, life was just too short to waste time on hurt feelings. Family was the most important thing. That's how Dorothy chose to live her life.

Despite the fact that some of the family still harbored ill feelings, they were all still family. Glogirly had a right to know them. It was her birthright.

Besides being the family peacekeeper, Dorothy was the protector. And with Glogirly, it was like she was still a newborn. She felt responsible for her like she had for her own children.

It was hard, but Dorothy told Glogirly that Armi had said some very hurtful things about Alice. She called her promiscuous, stubborn, and head strong. She didn't approve of the choices Alice had made in her life and probably felt as though she got what she deserved. Glogirly wasn't really surprised. After all it was the early 60's and unwed mothers weren't exactly winning popularity contests. Dorothy needed for Glogirly to understand that it was quite possible Armi would still talk about Alice in an unfavorable light. She wanted her to be prepared.

Glogirly thought again about all those possible outcomes she ran through her head before she ever contacted anyone. She prepared herself for anything and everything. Over the past few days, she had grown to love Alice through the eyes of her family. She knew that nothing would ever take that away. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Glogirly didn't want to pick and choose who she met based on conjecture. She was all in.

The plan was set. The next morning, Dorothy would call her brother. She'd ask if Jim would like to meet her for a late breakfast or early lunch. As much as Dorothy wanted Glogirly to see the ranch where she and Alice had grown up, she wouldn't push it. One step at a time. She wanted Jim to meet Glogirly first. Then they'd talk about the rest of the family.

When Jim picked up the phone the next morning, he asked right away where Dorothy was. She said she had been visiting her son in Santa Maria and was very close by. She thought it would be nice to meet for breakfast.

"Breakfast?" Jim questioned. "Well, heck...just come on up here to the house. The whole family is here and we're having a big barbecue."

The whole family was certainly not what Dorothy was expecting. She mouthed the change of plans to Glogirly for approval. Glogirly nodded. "That would be great, Jim. Say, I've got a special friend I'd like to bring with me..."

Dorothy could hear someone ask if the special friend was a man. "Ha! Not THAT kind of friend."

"By all means," Jim answered, "You know you and your friends are always welcome. We'll see you soon."

Dorothy told Glogirly to fasten her seatbelt. They were in for a ride. Glogirly was about to meet the whole family. And boy, was it ever going to be a surprise.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Chapter 14 - Thank You

Hi everyone, Katie here.

Welcome back to Another Mother. Glogirly wants me to thank you from the bottom of her heart for your wonderful comments and emails. She is very touched that you are enjoying the story. Myself, I'm getting a little anxious to take back the spotlight. This is MY blog after all.

Dorothy and Glogirly headed up the coast towards a town called Paso Robles. Jeanette's oldest daughter, Candy, lived on a horse ranch just outside of town. Jeanette and all of her children were gathering there to meet Glogirly.

Dorothy enjoyed playing the part of Ambassador. She took great care to make sure Glogirly was not overwhelmed and that she was comfortable and ready for every step of her journey. She said she didn't want her to go running home to Minnesota, never to return. Dorothy liked to keep things light. She wasn't one to take life too seriously.

The ranch looked out over a beautiful countryside with rolling hills. It was hot and dusty outside. Paso Robles is known for their hot, windy weather. Everyone was gathered in the kitchen as Dorothy and Glogirly pulled up to the house. There were hugs all around and plenty of laughter. A few tears too, but they were happy tears.

What struck Glogirly the most about her cousin Sharon, were her eyes. She had the most beautiful, clear, blue eyes she'd ever seen. Their sparkle matched her spirit that Glogirly had instantly felt drawn to over the phone. Sharon was very protective of her mom and stuck by her side. Jeanette was quiet and looked a little frail. A gust of that wind could carry her away. In the kitchen she gave Glogirly a hug and told her how nice it was to meet her. But she kind of stood back and let the others talk. She didn't like being the center of attention. Dorothy helped break the ice again by telling the others what she and Glogirly had been up to and how much fun they'd had so far getting to know each other.

Once everyone moved into the great room, Glogirly sat down next to Jeanette on a small sofa. Jeanette was a beautiful woman. Even at 83, there was something very glamorous about her. She took great care with her makeup and hair. Her lipstick was perfectly applied and her nails were manicured and bright red. She said she'd worn bright nail polish for as many years as she could remember. Never left the house without a fresh coat of polish. She held her hands together, looking down at them in her lap. Glogirly could tell Jeanette was shy. She knew that feeling very well. As a kid, she was painfully shy. It wasn't until she got to college and tried very hard to come out of her shell that she began feeling comfortable around other people. No one would believe it today, but Glogirly still considers herself extremely shy. She just works very hard at making it appear that she's not.

Jeanette had brought an old photo album with her. She opened it up on her lap and Glogirly scooted in close. She walked her through every single photo. Glogirly's impression was right. Jeanette was an absolutely stunning young woman. She had the same eyes as Sharon. So striking.

TOP LEFT: Jeanette and her accordian
TOP RIGHT: Portrait of Jeanette
LOWER LEFT: Alice & Jeanette, love the shoes!
LOWER RIGHT: Alice & Jeanette outside the family home

She told Golgirly about the time she had spent in the US Navy WAVES. The WAVES were a World War II-era division of the US Navy that consisted entirely of women. Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, or WAVES for short. She looked beautiful in the crisp uniform. She talked of her husband, Charles Cotter, who had also served his country during the war. He was in the US Army in Normandy.

Glogirly talked about her dad. He and Jeanette would have been the exactly same age. They were born just a few days apart. Glogirly's dad was a US Marine in WWII. He fought in the pacific islands and was eventually injured on Iwo Jima. He was on a Navy hospital ship just off the shore of Iwo when the flag was raised on top of Mount Suribachi. He could see it outside through the ship window. That's when he knew the war was finally over.

One-on-one, Jeanette quickly warmed up to Glogirly. Although she was soft spoken, she looked right into Glogirly's eyes when she talked. She was expressive and warm. She asked Glogirly why she had searched for them. Glogirly talked about how she had grown up, how her adoptive parents had always been open and honest about everything. How they had shown such respect and gratitude to a young woman who was brave and strong and loved her baby enough to give it up. Glogirly said that she had always dreamed of having an opportunity to say Thank You to her birthmother. That was why she searched.

She was too late for Alice, but Glogirly took Jeanette's hand in hers, looked into her clear eyes and said Thank You. It was as if there were no other people in the room, just Jeanette and Glogirly. It meant so much to be able to say the words she had thought about all those years. Their eyes welled up with tears, but Jeanette was comforted knowing that everything had turned out okay. The baby her youngest sister gave up was happy and well. She had a good life. Jeanette smiled through her tears.

Glogirly had brought a slide show on her laptop computer to share. Everyone gathered around to see the images of Young Glogirly and her parents. She had the first photo that was ever taken of her, the day her new mommy and daddy brought her home. She even included the adoption announcement that her parents sent to family and friends announcing Glogirly's arrival. It was very special to her because it was written in her mom's handwriting. There were photos growing up, high school graduation, and of course wedding photos of her and Gloman, her stepson Gabe and last but not least her cat, Katie.

Young Glogirly's Adoption Announcement

Glogirly knew that Jeanette and Dorothy both still had a lot of pain surrounding her birth. A birth is supposed to be joyous, but for Alice and her sisters this particular birth was also heartbreaking. Glogirly made a point of telling the story she knew her parents would have told if they were still alive. Because for them, it was one of the happiest days of their lives.

The nurse from the adoption agency wrapped Glogirly in a pink and white flannel blanket and gently put her in her new mother's arms. Her mom and dad just ooked at her in amazement. They said that there was no greater joy on earth that when they held that little life in their arms for the first time. It was no less significant than a mother giving birth and holding her baby for the first time. It was a day and a moment they carried with them their whole lives. And the gratitude they felt for the young mother that gave birth to their daughter was something they carried with them their whole lives as well.

Everyone loves a happy ending. Alice's heartache, Dorothy and Jeanette's too, was somehow softened knowing that the baby they always wondered about had grown into a beautiful woman, surrounded by love.

When it came time to leave, Jeanette gave the photo album to Glogirly so she could scan as many pictures as she wanted. Glogirly held onto the album like a cherished heirloom. She couldn't wait to show the photos to Gloman.

Just before the goodbyes, Glogirly gathered everyone in front of Candy's house for a family photo. She could have gone home that very moment feeling complete. She remembers closing here eyes and whispering to herself, Thank You. Thank you to Alice, thank you to her parents, and thank you to God.

TOP LEFT: Dorothy, Candy, Jeanette, Sharon
TOP RIGHT: Jeanette
LOWER LEFT: Dorothy & Jeanette
LOWER RIGHT: Sharon, Jeanette, Sharon #2, Candy, Dorothy, Mike
(Sharon #2 is Candy's friend, Mike is one of Jeanette's sons)

As they drove back to Santa Maria, Dorothy asked how Glogirly was doing. Was she overwhelmed? Tired? She was amazed at how Glogirly took everything in stride. Meeting a whole new family was quite an experience. After all there were way more of them and just one Glogirly. She asked her to think about the possibility of meeting a few more. Dorothy hadn't planned on introducing her to Jim, the oldest brother, and his family quite yet. At least not on this trip. In fact Jim, his wife Armie, and all of their grown children knew nothing of Glogirly or her search for them. They knew that Alice had given up a baby years ago, but nothing more.

Dorothy said that it was complicated. She needed to explain a few things before they decided what to do next. Most of all, Dorothy wanted to protect Glogirly.

It had been a long day by the time they arrived back in Santa Maria at Jeff's house. Everyone was in need of a good night's rest. Before they turned in for the night, Dorothy gave Glogirly a hug, held her hands and looked into here eyes. I love you, Debbie. I'm so glad you're here. Thank you for finding us.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Chapter 13 The Little Pink House

Hi everyone, Katie here.

I know, I've been waiting and waiting! Well, me too. You might need to go back to Chapter 12 and read the last paragraph, just to review. Kind of like the "previously on..." clips from your favorite TV shows.

Here, I'll save you the trouble. We left off with Glogirly and Dorothy. It was their first night together. As Glogirly drifted off to sleep she was beginning to realize that Dorothy was much more than an aunt. She was another mother.

I'm so happy you're here.

That's what Dorothy said to Glogirly before she kissed her goodnight. Glogirly climbed into the antique bed with the smooth sheets and reflected on the day. It was almost surreal. Despite how tenacious she can be, Glogirly was still surprised that she had uncovered enough information to come this far. And to have it unfold so beautifully, to be welcomed into a family with open arms, well it was far more than she'd ever hoped for.

It was a quick breakfast the next morning. Dorothy had plans for part two of Glogirly's adventure. They loaded their bags into her trunk and headed south on the 101. Sunnyvale to Santa Maria was about a four hour drive. Dorothy's son, Jeff, was expecting them.

The scenery on the way down brought back many childhood memories. Glogirly found her mind wandering into the past. Her dad loved the open road. Loved to camp. The California landscape reminded her of camping trips and family vacations as a kid. In fact when she was just barely walking, dad, mom and Glogirly went on a Jeep trip into Baja. That's when they lived in Santa Maria. Her dad was the president of the Santa Maria Four Wheeler's Club. The whole club went on a week long caravan through Baja, down into Mexico.

Fast forward to just a few years ago. Glogirly found an old 8mm home movie her dad shot on that trip. Growing up, her dad loved to talk about the Baja trip and how proud he was of Glogirly and her mom "roughing it" on the dusty trail. Later, when Glogirly's dad was very sick, she dug through boxes looking for that film. Once she found it, she had the brittle 8mm film transferred to DVD. She brought it into the nursing home he was living at and played it for him on her laptop computer. He wasn't able to talk anymore, but it was clear he remembered that family trip. It was one of many, but because it was the first with Young Glogirly, it was special. Glogirly's dad passed away the next day.

Glogirly and Dorothy lost themselves in conversation about family. Dorothy reminisced about vacations, road trips and camping up in the California mountains. She reminded Glogirly so much of her own parents. Especially her dad. Dorothy had an optimistic outlook on life that was just like her dad's. She saw good in people. She saw opportunity in challenges. She didn't let anything get her down. These were also the qualities that made Glogirly's dad her hero.

Glogirly remembered one time in particular, shortly after her dad moved into the nursing home. It broke her heart that he was aging and struggling, that he needed help she couldn't give him at home. She and her dad were sitting together just outside the nursing home on some patio chairs in the breezy shade. They were looking across the street at a small park with the downtown Minneapolis skyline in the background. The metrodome, where her dad's favorite football and baseball teams played, was in view. Glogirly will never forget this. Her dad took her hand and told her not to feel bad. He didn't mind living in the nursing home. In fact he said there was no place he'd rather be than with her right there, sitting in the breeze, enjoying the day. As long as he was near his daughter, he was exactly where he needed to be.

That's how he looked at life. Challenges and struggles never held him back and never discouraged him. To this day, Glogirly admires her dad for these qualities and tries to live her life like he did.

Road trips were perfect for reflecting and perfect for sharing stories. Dorothy and Glogirly enjoyed every mile.

Not far from Santa Maria was Pismo Beach. That's where Glogirly and her dad would go sand-duning. Occasionally, they'd convince mom to join in the fun, but it was usually just the two of them. They'd whip around the giant dunes in a sparkly purple dune buggy, bouncing over bumps, climbing the steepest dunes and flying off into pillows of sand. It was like riding a rollercoaster and Glogirly loved every minute of it.

Seeing the Pismo Beach exit sign meant they were very close to Santa Maria and Dorothy's son, Jeff. Glogirly couldn't wait to see the little town where she and her parents had lived so many years ago. She was too little to remember anything, but through photos she had vivid pictures in her mind's eye. It was where Glogirly first came home. She was exactly one month old the day her new mommy and daddy brought her to the little pink house in Santa Maria.

In preparation for Glogirly's trip to meet Dorothy, she had gone through some old papers and letters that her dad had kept in a safe box. Inside the dark green metal box were important documents like birth certificates, photos, even her original adoption decree. Glogirly wrote down the Santa Maria address that appeared on the adoption paperwork. There were a couple more cards and letters with different Santa Maria addresses as well. Three in all. These were the places that Glogirly and her parents had lived. She printed maps with the addresses in hopes that Dorothy's son would drive her around town to find the original houses she and her family had lived in.

Jeff met Glogirly with a huge smile. Dorothy introduced Glogirly as Alice's daughter. Dorothy couldn't say the words "Alice's daughter" without getting choked up. Jeff gave Glogirly a big hug, Dorothy cried, then they all hugged. Jeff was only a year older than Glogirly. When she was born, Jeff would have been just a baby. All these years later, with two babies all grown up and meeting for the first time, Dorothy was beaming.

Dorothy and her son, Jeff.

They enjoyed some wine and dinner at a local tasting room, catching up on a lifetime of stories and getting to know each other.

The next morning, Glogirly pulled her Santa Maria maps out of her suitcase. She and Jeff were on a mission. She hoped they wouldn't have too much trouble finding the first house. The little pink one. Maps in hand, off they went. Around the corner and down the block that is. House number one was so close to Jeff's house they could almost see it from his backyard. What were the chances? It was the little pink house that Glogirly had seen in so many family pictures. The first house where they became a family. It wasn't pink anymore, but everything else looked very much like the photos from 1964.

Young Glogirly, her mom and the little pink house.

The little pink house 45 years later.

House number two was about 1/4 mile away. House number three was just a couple miles farther. Now Santa Maria was a small town, but not THAT small. Glogirly's family had walked on the same sidewalks, driven down the same roads, went to the same beach as her birth family. It was fascinating. They had been so close.

Next up, the Cotters.

Dorothy and her older sister Jeanette (Cotter) had planned a small reunion of sorts at one of Jeanette's daughters homes. Glogirly was about to put a face with the first voice she'd heard. She was going to meet her cousin Sharon. She already felt a deep connection with Sharon after their phone conversations. Glogirly still carried a recording of the first message from Sharon on her cell phone. You are a gift to our family. The words that changed everything. Words that began the process of filling in the blanks and discovering a past.