Hi everyone, Katie here.
I know, I know...you'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.