Call it “recognition at first sight.”
I was checking in at the old Buller Hotel the night before Thanksgiving 1989.
My folks bought the house for the attached “mother-in-law” apartment so Granny Tilly always had a place to stay when she visited while my brother, Scott, and I were still growing up.
After we both left for college, Granny moved in for her last few years. After she died, Mom & Dad hosted everybody in the family and their brother — literally in some instances — for short, or long, visits. Mom loved company and welcomed everyone wanting to visit. This Thanksgiving, Scott and Joanie were staying in the apartment, and their friend, Sara, was visiting from California.
“But we’ve already met.”
Those were literally the first words I said when Sara was introduced as I walked into the kitchen that evening. It sure felt like I knew her. She looked beyond familiar, and I couldn’t shake a deep sense of recognition.
But as we compared notes, we discovered we couldn’t have met before since we’d never been in the same place at the same time.
I had heard of Sara from my brother and sister-in-law, Scott & Joanie. This was “Aunt Sara,” one of my niece Jessie’s godmothers, who sent gifts from California.
Sara had not only not met me, she’d never even heard of me. She’d known Scott & Joanie for 7 years but never knew he had a brother. Living in the same apartments as Scott & Joanie in Oakland when their daughter Jessie was born, she had baby-sat Jessie as an infant.
So, this story really starts with Jessie, I guess.
Tragically, Jessie had died from brain cancer earlier in the year (another story to share someday). Scott & Joanie had moved back in with Mom & Dad for financial and emotional support in the wake of the devastating loss. Most weekends while Jessie was sick, I’d drive back and forth between Austin and Houston, and had continued to do so since. Thanksgiving brought us all together again.
We were celebrating my dad’s birthday that evening, before the big feast day, complete with cake and presents and a fair amount of merriment for our little group. Little did we know then Dad was in the process of starting to receive what he would later call his “best birthday present ever.”
After the mini-party, us “youngsters” (all in our 30s, mind you) retired to the apartment where we swapped stories and continued our conversation until late into the evening. Sara had flown in from where she was living in Cupertino to visit Joanie, and more specifically, to distract her during the Thanksgiving holiday.
That evening, it seemed to be working.
This is the first in a series telling this story. Next up, Thanksgiving…