I’m a Father!

May 14, 2008

My daughter, Rosie, and son-in-law, Cameron.

Today, I received a phone call that has changed me forever!

I didn’t hear the first call come in. There was a message from a woman who said that I was had had a big impact on her life and she had some music that I might be interested in hearing. Not an unusual call. It’s always a joy to hear that someone has valued my work.

I called back to say that I would be working in the morning, but would be off around noon. I called the number, and got the answering machine. I left a message and received a call back. She seemed a little hesitant and tentative, wondering if I might have heard of her, I asked how I might have heard of her and she didn’t quite know. She then asked if I had lived in Portland, Oregon, in 1971. I had, and told her so. She told me that her mother had left Portland after being involved with me briefly, and she had left pregnant. She was married and was separated from her husband at the time. There was some question about the paternity of the child, until she was born and then it was apparent that the child was mine. She was that child. She told me that her mother hadn’t wanted to tell me that she was pregnant, as she felt I was too young to deal with it. I was probably around 19 at the time.

I was absolutely floored!

This was something that I did not anticipate, although I certainly have created the possiblity. I had no recollection of her mother, but when she emailed me photos of herself, the resemblance was unquestionable!

She assured me that me wanted nothing of me, just to find out more about herself. She had fantasized about reconnecting with me, joked, as a child about me coming to get her and taking her away. She is now 36 and married and had found my website last night and decided to take the chance of connecting with me.

I can only imagine the anxiety of contacting a missing parent and facing the risk of being rejected by someone who is such a part of you. No, I guess I don’t have to only imagine it. I feel it as well. Perhaps, she won’t accept me!

We are blood and bone. We are family! She is my only child, (as far as I know! Apparently the status of this can change suddenly and unexpectedly!)

I have no words to express how amazed I am by this! How wonderful it is to be a father in this way.

There are so many things to share. We talked for a long time, though it could never seem long enough. I shared with her our family website. Showed her how she could connect with her grandmother’s blog. Showed her my blog. Told her a little about our family. Invited her to the family reunion in August. She asked if I would be willing to meet face to face and I told her anytime she wanted to, I was more than willing. I hope to see her very soon! She is checking on flights from Southern California to the Bay Area.

She told me that her mother had told her, when she was ten, that she had a different father than her two sisters. She told me that she never felt that she fit in, she would sing and make up songs and her family would make fun of her. She was the only musical one in the family. I told her that her grandmother and great grandfather were also musical.

I savored the conversation, and told her what a gift she had given me. That not having had a child, has been a sorrow for me. My life has included so many other people’s children and a few that I think of as my own, but no one who carries my blood. No one whom I look at and see myself. There is nothing like that in this world. She has given that to me.

I am thankful that she had the courage to reach out and take the risk of being rejected by me. I will reach out and take the risk of being rejected by her.

Her grandmother just called to see if it she could talk to her. It’s a big day for us all!

My “Thank You!” to Leigh and the Jurick Family!

August 1, 2008

Anyone who is familiar with our blogs knows that this has been a powerful experience, full of emotion and connections with the past. Like a tree, there is at least as much under the soil as above.

I know that it has been a difficult experience for some of Rosie’s family and I want to take this time to thank them all, but especially to Rosie’s mother, Leigh. I want her to know how grateful I am to have Rosie in my life. I know that the situation was difficult and that there has been much pain, as well as other emotions. I want to thank you for providing her with a stable home and helping her to be the wonderful person she is now. . . and for her very existence!

My gratitude to Neil, the father who raised her, was stated in Rosie’s blog, but again, I am thankful that he gave her what he had to give and treated her as his own. If his children should ever be in need of someone to talk to in a fatherly way, I hope I can repay my debt to him with my ears and advice.

I want to thank her sisters, Monica and Lilly, for being true sisters to her. Her love for both of you is clear and strong. I hope we all can celebrate the healing and love that is now happening in our lives.

Jonathan came along later, Rosie was almost a teenager when he was born. I know that he and Rosie still have some exploring to do about their relationship. I am grateful that he and his girlfriend, Liz, came to Trabuco Canyon to meet me and hope that we can spend more time getting to know one another as adults.

Softball and Song

July 30, 2008

I spent the weekend with Rosie in Santa Margarita.

She had asked me to come down this weekend and it so happened that there was a congregational picnic/softball game on Saturday. It seemed important to our Dad/Daughter thing that I participate. She wanted to show off her Dad! I put more thought into this than it warranted, thinking that I would play left-handed as a way to humble myself and to place the activity in it’s proper perspective. I told Rosie about my idea and she made it clear that she expected me to shine.

I remembered watching my father playing softball with the other fathers once when I was a boy. I think that it may only have happened once. I do remember the feeling. I was proud of him and awed by the deference others made to him. I realized that Rosie was looking for something like that and I was honored to be in that position.

I drove down Hwy 5, needing to make the on-the-road portion of this visit as short as I could. Other trips I might stop for visits in Ojai, or Santa Barbara, or Reseda, but this was concentrated time with my daughter. We had no agenda, other than softball.

I made good time. I passed a couple of auto fires on the Grapevine that slowed traffic, but I mostly avoided the slow crawl.

I arrived to a meal my daughter had made me, surprised to see Lilly, as I had been told she had been staying with Rosie and Cameron but would be going back home before I arrived. It was a nice welcome. In the course of the evening, Lilly asked how the song Rosie had written for her was coming. I had promised to work on it but only had the rough recording Rosie had given me to work from. I wasn’t sure how attached Rosie was to the timing of the song and how deliberate it was. I wanted to hear her sing it to me to see, if I could tell. Once I had determined that, it would be easier to see how to start building the tracks. I was hopeful for the song. I knew that it meant a lot to Lilly and it meant a lot to Rosie to give this song a musical setting that we could all be proud of.

The song is about the burdens of being beautiful. Not exactly a perspective available to everyone. Rosie had made a clear presentation of a valid perspective and I was curious how it would all feel when it was done.

That night, after talking in the backyard for a while, taking advantage of the gorgeous evening, we went inside to sing. I wound up getting into a space (probably induced by fatigue), where I started calling in songs that I loved to sing. My fingers were not responding to my requests that they actually play the right strings. I realized that I hadn’t played much guitar since I left camp, and other than my performance at camp, didn’t play much there either. I didn’t know how what I was singing was being received, but I was putting it out there, raw! I was heartened to hear Rosie say that it was the best music she had heard me play yet! We do have much in common, that girl and I. Lilly bailed early on us. I was concerned that maybe she felt left out. I was hoping for the opposite. She had enjoyed being read to, and I was hoping she’d enjoy being sung to. I didn’t make much eye contact while I was singing, trying not to be too self-conscious. I wanted to find that place that the songs come to me from. Oft-times I was able to find it. I went to bed concerned about Lilly, wondering how she had experienced the singing. She left in the morning before I could talk to her about it.

As the morning progressed, we set about the serious father/daughter business of songwriting, working on a song we had begun work on at my mother’s during Rosie’s visit there. It is a song that I hadn’t completed. I am quite attached to the image in it of the burden of having wings and the tendency of those blessed with them to complain about what a problem it is to function with them always getting in the way, while at the same time being afraid to use them for what they are for. Rosie took the song to heart. It clearly spoke to her. She used the images to explore her relationships and how she felt her wings could be a threat. She suggested verses that were well-constructed with some powerful images. I hope we can remember them so I can weigh them again at another time. I was wanting the song to be a little more universal and not set in a relationship. That is a common setting for songs, understandably so . . . still, I was hoping for something bigger . . . .

We decided to move on to something else and so our attention went to Lilly’s song “Diamonds Are Beautiful”. It seemed that, once that ball got rolling, it wasn’t going to be stopped by anyone, or anything. I love it when that happens! You feel a part of some energy that collects and time . . . hunger . . . fatigue . . . disappear.

As I added guitar to the rhythm tracks, I could feel the energy. It only increased as we added Rosie’s vocals and started layering the instruments. Sitting on that couch was a great place to be, if you can call what we were doing sitting! We took a break for late night talking, which we do well, and food. In the morning I was hard at it early. We were determined to have something that we could give to Lilly, even if it was only an early version.

We took our softball break early in the afternoon. The game was at a sport complex fairly nearby. When we arrived people were geting warmed up on the field. Rosie had expressed a desire for me to help her playing. She had decided that she was going to play, which she might not have had she not recently found her athletic heritage. I was looking forward to helping her. Teaching is one of the things I love to do. My dad was a great coach, and I enjoy being able to pass along some of the skills he taught me. I enjoy watching my brother, David, coach. It helps me remember where I learned many of the things I have acquired.

They picked teams, which surprised me. I would’ve just divided people up to make things as even as possible and then not focused on keeping score, but it was clear that there was some muscle flexing going on. I would’ve saved people from the agony of having to wait to be picked. I was often one of the last as a child, always one of the smallest. My skill at baseball gave me value as the other kids saw that I could play. I thank my Dad for that!

Rosie had to endure being picked; I was picked before I had time to think about it. I was busy working on Rosie’s throwing. I wanted her to have as successful an experience as possible. She was very coach-able. We wound up on the same team. I would’ve switched teams if that hadn’t worked out that way. The game went well, no one was hurt, Rosie saw three pitches and made good contact three times, which was pretty uncommon in that game. I was proud of her. She had some plays in the outfield and got the ball back in quickly. It was a lot to expose herself to and I was proud that my daughter was one of the few women on the field while the others watched, involved, rather than spectating.

I hit the ball hard and hopefully was impressive enough to my daughter to fulfill her daddy needs. I was more eager to get back to recording. It was an enjoyable afternoon spent with enjoyable people.

Back at the couch/recording studio, we made up some fun vocal parts to sing together. I must say that while every minute I spend with Rosie feels like the best place to be in the world, singing those “backup vocal” parts was exquisite! Layering the vocals at the end always feels like dessert that I could live on. It is where I really feel most like I am creating. It feels a level above creating the instrumental tracks, for some reason. I think I have more confidence in my relationship with singing than playing.

I hammered away at the instrumentation . . . and the software, which I had not used to this extent. Rosie helped me to figure out why I was having so much trouble assembling parts when I tried to cut and paste. I told her she was an extension of my brain . . . she told me I was an extension of her heart.

I got the first draft done and burned to a CD while Cameron and Rosie were at their meeting. They returned just as I was getting ready to go out the door to drive north. I had also left a copy of my mother’s recording for Rosie, so that the music of the three of us Reid/Charbonnets could co-mingle on her iPod.

I can’t wait to hear what Lilly thinks of her song now! We decided to send it to her by mail. Rosie made a nice label for it. I am anxiously awaiting the news!

Home Again!

July 20, 2008

I had a wonderful time at California Coast Music Camp. I was sorry that camp was over, but this year I had a sense that there were good things waiting for me. Last year I felt I was leaving it all behind.

As I wound my way through the golden hills, dotted with oak, I was hopeful that I was going to be seeing Rosie soon. We had made plans for her to come up after camp, but I had been out of contact with her all week and had no idea what was happening in her life. I felt that having some space, without having me to talk to, might be helpful.

When I finally got to a place where my newly-charged cell phone could function, there were four voice mails, but the reception still wasn’t consistent enough to pick them up. As soon as it was, the phone rang, with my daughter’s ring . . . and we were back in touch!

It was soothing to hear her voice. She sounded light and happy . . . best of all, she was waiting at my mother’s in Richmond. She filled me in the happenings of her week and it sounded as though her time at home had been as powerful as my time at camp. That was a validation that we were each where we needed to be! She had made good use of our time apart.

We talked for a good part of my drive and I was pretty well caught up on her activities by the time I arrived at my mother’s.

They were preparing for a family dinner . . . My brother, two of my brother’s girls, cousin Gail, perhaps cousin Vicky, were going to converge at the condo in Richmond.

My mom sent us off to pick up more crab for the gumbo she was making and I basked in being able to be with Rosie alone.

While we were out, Rosie gave me a necklace that she had chosen for me. It is a puzzle piece that interlocks with the one she has on her necklace. We are each other’s missing puzzle piece. I wear it proudly! It also says “Home”, in the Chocktaw language of some of our ancestors (I would take it off to note what else is on it, but I don’t want to take it off).

After the gumbo, we watched a film my mother had found about the Treme’ district in New Orleans. I knew nothing about it and it helped me to understand more about where my mother’s family comes from, though they were from a different part of town.

Rosie and I had our slumber party on the living room floor and the next morning after breakfast, we worked on the lyrics to a song that I started long ago and had not finished. It was about how inconvenient wings are to carry around, when you are unwilling to use them. Rosie had some good ideas and the song seemed to take form. I like the way we work together. It is as though my mind just expanded! I can think of things without even thinking them. She is the best songwriting partner I have ever had!

We worked on it until it was time to meet up with my brother, David, his girl friend, Betty, two of his daughters, Alyana and Tamaya, and his son, Rhico. We drove out to Rowell Ranch in Hayward for the Bill Pickett Black Cowboys Rodeo. David had a connection with the organizers and we got in early and found some good food, good seats and a hat for Rosie.

The rodeo was a bit too corporate for my tastes, but it was fun to feel the differences in the atmosphere between this and the rodeos I was used to. I had always wanted to go to this event, but had never made it. I loved being there with my family. I, like most people, have ingrained in myself the idea that cowboys are white. It was an opportunity to notice how much influence the media has in forming our views of the world. It was fun to share both my “blackness” and my “horseness” in the same event. Rodeo music never sounded so soulful!

Rosie and I left early, we still had to drive to San Juan and we were both tired from not sleeping well the night before. We beat the traffic jam going out, as we had beaten the one coming in, by being early in our departure.

We visited with my mother for a while, she had wanted to give Rosie her mother’s rosary, but Rosie couldn’t accept it, due to her religious beliefs. It was an uncomfortable moment for both of them, but Rosie made it clear that she was very appreciative of the thought. I was proud that she was that clear about her beliefs and was acting on them, though it was difficult. I think my mother would be, as well.

We drove separately down to San Juan, stopping at Trader Joe’s for supplies and made it home in time to eat and sleep. The next morning, after talking for hours, Rosie accompanied me on our first “Take Your Daughter to Work” day.

A couple of foals had been born while I was away and they needed handling, as well as the other 13. I enjoyed having Rosie’s presence and was excited that she got to watch me do what I do. It is one thing to have it described to you and something else to experience it. I was curious about what she might observe. Debbie, the woman I work for, was more warm and welcoming than I had ever seen her. I was touched by her efforts to welcome my daughter.

After work, I made a run to the bank to cash my camp check and then we headed to Big Sur. I wanted to share that part of my life with Rosie. I didn’t know if the road would be open, due to the fire, but I figured we’d go as far as we could.

On the way down the coast, we stopped at the Wildcat Canyon house that my friend Ric Masten grew up in. We stopped the car, got out and walked back to the bridge overlooking the house. I told Rosie about Ric’s mother locking him in the tennis court to “baby-sit” him. We couldn’t see a tennis court from where we were standing.

A couple from Spain stopped also to look and I invited them to drive down Spindrift, a beautiful residential area, behind us. They accepted the invitation and thanked us when we met up with them again farther down the coast.

We stopped at Rocky Point to take in the view. I wanted Rosie to feel it. It is one of my favorite places to see the coast from and because it is at the mouth of the canyon I once called home, it has special meaning for me.

I had Rosie take in the expanse of the coastal scene and then close her eyes and I drove into the mouth of the canyon. When she opened them again she was tightly enveloped in a gorgeous redwood canyon. I am eager to hear her description of what she experienced.

We drove up the canyon, driving past the “road closed” sign, not knowing what we’d find. I didn’t know who would be home, but then, I never do!

I called out a few landmarks, places I once lived, the house Jennifer Warnes used to live in. We got to Green Ridge at the top of Murray Grade and pulled over on the side of the dirt road. I had intended to just walk up to the Masten’s. I figured Rosie would at least get to see the house that had had such an impact on me when I first encountered the lifestyle back when I was 15. That was when I first saw that one could choose to live in such an amazing place and way. When I first realized that it could be your everyday experience.

I noticed that Norm Cotton’s gate was open and just “followed the feel”. We walked down his driveway and called out to him as we approached. There was initially no answer, and then heard him reply from upstairs, where we had probably awakened him from his nap.

He invited us in, and we sat and told the story of our meeting to him. He shared some photos with us of his land in the Sierras, inviting us to come up sometime.

He also told us stories about his contra dance band and showed us photos of a tour he went on to New Zealand. It was a contra dance tour. There were some 20 dancers and Norm was one of four musicians on the tour. It sounded like a great time. He did a little stride piano demo for Rosie and then he pulled out his fiddle and guitar and he and I played a little bit. First he on fiddle and me on guitar, then he let me play his fiddle and he played guitar and then piano. I gave him back his fiddle and we did a little improvising. The first time we ever played we had done that and Norm had never tried before. He had really enjoyed it . . . and did again!

Norm got a phone call, from his girlfriend, Theresa and while we looked at the New Zealand photos, we were invited for dinner and accepted. I am always amazed at how things unfold, perhaps I shouldn’t be. It is like watching a flower open up in the sun.

I mentioned that we had been intending to go up to the Masten’s and Norm asked if we would mind helping him with something first. One of his backhoes, he operates heavy equipment, was down at the Grimes Ranch down on the coast in front of the canyon and he wanted to retrieve it. He had gone down to get it, but noticed some bulls in the field and it was a long way out to the backhoe. He had put it there, due to the fire. He didn’t want all of his heavy equipment in the same place.

We drove him down and someone was there to open the gate. The bulls had been moved elsewhere and Norm was able to walk out into the field. We lead the way up the canyon with our warning lights flashing to warn oncoming cars. It was a slow adventure . . . easily savored.

We left Norm behind when he was out of the crease of the canyon . . . on the grade . . . and drove up to the Masten’s. We parked in Billie’s driveway and walked up the road to Jerri and Chris’s. They were in the middle of sorting through their possessions. The threat of the fire had made people identify what belongings were truly important. What we heard over and over was, when it all came down, people had found out that not many of their possessions were worth packing up. Chris and Jerri were clearing out the things they had discovered were not important to them. I wanted Rosie to feel and see this lifestyle, and few embody it as well as these two. Jerri is as packed full of talent as anyone I have ever known. You name it she can do it. She is a true artist. Chris is a master builder and an artist, as well. Their home is built of job site treasures. Old doors and windows from Pebble Beach remodels. Put together beautifully!

In the middle of construction, Chris fell from a roof and was badly injured. He had to have Jerri do a lot of work she didn’t know she could do. She could . . . and well! There was Ric’s work here too! He had helped back in the time he was able. I am sure it brought him much joy.

Jerri gave me some photos that she had been saving for me from back in the old days. I didn’t remember any of them. It was nice to have them to add to my collection of memories, though I know I have much stuff of my own I could release.

We had our dinner date with Norm and Theresa coming up, so we hurried down to Billie’s so that Rosie could meet her and get a look at the house. Billie was lying in bed and watching television. She said she liked to watch the house shows. “White People Do Wood”, I call them.

We chatted briefly and then I took Rosie out on the decks to take in the view. I think she got it.

We went down to Cotton’s and had our surprise dinner of tasty fish and vegetables, fish from Costco and the vegetables from the farmer’s market that was held at the entrance to Norman’s driveway. A perk being that he was offered produce that didn’t sell.

Theresa told us the story of how she and Norm had come to know each other, through contra dancing and asked us how we met, not knowing our relationship. “He’s my dad!”, was Rosie’s response, which opened the door to our telling the story.

It was all the more fun because it was so unexpected for her.

After dinner, I felt a need to let my friends Ron Cook and Deborah Streeter know that we were around, so we gave a call and they ask us to hurry on down. They lived in the house I first lived in, back in 1973. I had helped to build it, beginning in 1969 and lived on the foundation that first fall until the rains washed me out. Cooking on a camp stove, with a kerosene heater and a garden hose for my water. Living on roast beef hash and eggs and Ovaltine.

We drove down the dirt road and parked on the side of the road behind their cars. They had warned us not to go all the way down because we probably would need Norm to pull us out.

We walked in on the trail to their house. It was light enough to see our way in, but Rosie grabbed her cell phone and iPod for light coming back. We entered and Deborah greeted us. Cook came up from downstairs and we proceeded to have a lovely time telling stories and filling them in on the “Ongoing Odyssey of Rosie and Bob”.

Rosie asked Ron how he knew me and he went back to the beginning, when I was around 8-10 years old and his connection with my parents, mostly my mother, at the family camp we used to attend at Asilomar. Ron told stories about the building of the house and who had lived in it. I noted that there were still many stories untold and I looked forward to many more visits to that house on the side of that canyon where I used to awaken to the sight of the red tailed hawks hunting the steep ravines.

It was another precious evening in a line of precious days and nights.

I want my daughter to know who I am. These relationships are important in that understanding. As is this place!

From Camp

July 17, 2008

I am sitting in a grove of redwoods at a camp near the coast in northern Sonoma county. Not so near the coast that I have ever seen it. I think it is another half hour drive to the ocean. In my three years teaching at this camp I have yet to venture out that way. The camp is set in a narrow redwood canyon that the road to the coast runs through, at least this part of the road. Part of the camp is uphill of the road an part of it runs down to the stream at the bottom of the canyon.

I attended this camp when I was 12 years old as a YMCA camper. Another of the instructors, and the friend who was responsible for my being hired to teach was also here that same year. We both had memorable and un-fond memories of our time here. Our experiences during our time at music camp have erased those memories, except as humorous stories.

Last night, I performed in the instructor’s concert. This camp collects musicians from all over the country and offers them as instructors to those who are interested in improving their musical skills. It is acoustic music. The range of music is varied: bluegrass, old-timey, Brazilian, swing, jazz, folk, rock, country, blues, cajun . . . I have been impressed by the quality of the teachers here. The hiring committee does a great job of identifying musicians who are good at making strong relationships with their students. I have been honored to have been included.

The concert on Tuesday night is an opportunity for teachers to show what they do and who they are. They are all amazing musicians and some of the nicest people you would want to meet. I always feel a bit out of place in this setting of talented folks, wondering what I will do in my spot to show that I belong here. I think that my job is to be myself. To show people how intimate music can be. To share myself through music to let them see and feel what it can do.

I have found that, when possible, I am best when I sing about what I am feeling. In deciding what to sing for the concert, there was not much question that my songs that have to do with Rosie would be a focus, but I was not sure whether that would work. It was really all that came through when I started searching my mind for what I was going to sing.

Last year, I had lost my voice and chose to perform songs that I could do without having to do much “singing”. It went well and I was pleased with my ability to deliver the song despite my diminished capacity. I am sure people who hadn’ heard me thought that wasmy voice. This year, I was happy to be able to show people that I actually could sing, though I think that the power of the material probably out-shown my voice. As it should.

I introduced the song with a very brief story of Rosie’s finding me. I told them about her sending me the poem and my sending it back to her and how she had said the words before I could find them. I sang “The Empty Room” and made it through without breaking down crying. I couldn’t see much of the audience in the darkness, mostly just outlines past the first several rows but a few people I could see well and I could tell they were with me. It was a powerful moment.

When I finished the song, I could tell that there were many people who had gotten to their feet to applaud. It was almost too much, but I still had another song to do so I pushed through that moment. It was so precious that I wish I had lingered there longer. Then I sang “When the Morning Is Born From the Night” with the new verse to Rosie. That went well, I got through the words, though I stumbled a little on the chords because I was doing it in the key that Rosie likes to hear me sing it in (She calls it my “Daddy Voice”). For the first time, people began singing along and I felt the song come alive. I realized what a powerful song it was, as I heard the voices pick it up and give it back to me. I felt so much love in the room. It was clear that this was an intimate moment among intimate moments.

I received much congratulations both on my performance and on my relationship with my daughter. It touched people in a sweet way. I felt much more connected to camp and felt my roots go deeper into this community in which I felt so much more connected. I miss Rosie and wish very much that she could have shared it with me, but I did my best to not to stare.

The Song

July 2, 2008


I have just returned from another too quick trip to Orange County. On my first visit, Rosie had asked me if I would sing with her at her congregation’s picnic. She had been approached by one of the people organizing it. I told her any place, any time! I don’t know what she initially had in mind, but, as we explored songs that we might sing together, we considered singing “Empty Room”, the poem she had written to me that I had set to music.

I had been working on solidifying instrumental tracks for it at home, but it seemed that the song itself was still unfinished. It seemed that it needed a coming together of the voices at the end. The instrumental tracks were also helpful because every time I played it on the guitar I had a tendency to change the chords, which made it difficult to nail down a melody.

I had emailed a suggested “ending” to Rosie and she was enthusiastic about using it. She was anxious about our attempting to incorporate it into our upcoming performance, but I assured her we could do it, if we did our homework.

I drove down Thursday after working the horses . . . getting one of the yearlings ready to begin his new life. He was to be picked up on Friday and taken to his new home somewhere in the Central Valley and moving horses around to give some of the foals a little more room and to make room for the expected new arrivals. One arrived last night, another colt! That makes 13 foals all together.

I drove to Reseda the first night and stayed with my friend, Kim, and her family. I got in about 9:00 or so, and they fed me pizza and caught me up on their lives in the last 2 years. They have had health issues. Kim and I played a few songs together, which was as wonderful as ever.

I drove to Trabuco Canyon in the morning and got there about noon. Rosie was due to return in about an hour and wanted to take me to lunch. With Rosie, when she needs to eat, it is not a choice, but a necessity. We went to a place that was kind of a Persian deli. She was very familiar with the owners and wanted to take me there. I had a gyro. She made a point to tell the proprietor that I was her father, as she didn’t want to start any rumors. He said that I looked very young to be her father. I think so too!

We had a conversation about her health and I told her my concerns. She listened and agreed that she would make an effort to change her eating habits and avoid coffee. There are not many things that I would step in and insist on, but this was one. She can make her own choices once she has experienced what she feels like after making the changes. I don’t believe she has a desire to be miserable. I think she has accepted a status-quo that she didn’t know she had a choice about. Her nightmares, her troubled sleep, may be things that she can avoid.

We went shopping for groceries and I found some nine grain cereal that I wanted her to try having for breakfast as I was concerned about her health and her blood sugar issues. It is what I have been eating for breakfast for . . . maybe 30 years. It has worked well for me. I hope that it will work for Rosie. Having suffered due to the same problems, I couldn’t feel that I was doing my job as her father, and friend, if I didn’t share what I had learned. It was painful to see how it affected her health and her life. I knew what it felt like from her side of the mirror.

We found the cereal. While we shopped, I was enjoying just being with my daughter. It is like nothing else in my life. It is not unlike being in love, but in a different league. There is something about the connection that goes deep, without the fear of it vanishing.

That night we sang the songs we were considering singing and decided to sing my “Morning is Born From the Night” with the new verse I had written for Rosie, Michael Buble’s “Home” then and worked on the ending I had written for “Empty Room”. We had pretty much finalized the melody for the song, though we each interpret it differently. I think that adds to the character of the song. We sang the ending over and over, working to get it into our brains and muscle memory. Working to make the words stick together. In the morning, we recorded our ending onto the tracks I had made.

Lilly, one of Rosie’s sisters, who had returned two weeks ago from living in Australia, made her appearance. Her arrival had been imminent all day and I was wondering if she might be anxious about meeting me. Rosie had always told me that her sisters were beautiful, and I had seen their pictures, but it didn’t mean much until actually meeting them. Now I can hear what Rosie means when she talks about the value placed upon beauty in their household when she was growing up. It was indeed a presence.


I was very satisfied with the way the song sounded and with the way we sounded together. It was one of those times when everything just seemed to align . . . the lyrics, the voices, the music. It felt as though it had been written by someone else. Somehow it came through us, and it could have only come through us.

We were both anxious about our performance at the picnic. I felt better after making sure that the sound system was going to be adequate. We had gone by to scope out the situation on Friday, so I felt that I had an idea of what the environment was going to be.

We arrived early to deliver the five tasty pizzas that Cameron had made for the picnic and help set up the sound. Cameron had brought a generator, so that we could have electricity for the sound system.


Rosie and I were off practicing when the ceremonies for the picnic were begun. We were prepared as well as we could be, considering that the words were just solidified the day before. Rosie went off to be part of the gathering while I sat down with Tiana and sang some songs. We gathered a bit of a crowd. Tiana was enthusiastic and had shown that she had spent some time listening to “Mrs’ Murphy’s Chowder”. She was quite the expert. The other kids were awestruck!


We were going to be singing after another of the congregation members. He sang two songs and then it was our turn. Rosie gave the context of our performance. I said a little, generally about what the verses of “Morning Is Born” meant to me and how I had wanted to write verse for Rosie. The words to her verse are;

As I awaken in the dark of the night

Into a room that has lost all of it’s light

Rain on the desert is the dawn to my eyes

An unexpectedly rosy sunrise

We traded the lead on the song, I sang the verse and while Rosie sang the melody on the chorus and I sang harmony. On our second song “Home”, I accompanied Rosie’s singing on guitar. She did a great job, though I wish I could have sat back and listened.

Then it was time for “Empty Room”. I knew that it would be an emotional experience. I think I had focused upon the performance of the song so much that I forgot about the reality of performing something so emotionally charged in the environment we were in. It was an amazing intersection of feelings.

I have been surprised at how powerful our story has been for others. It has created opportunities for people to share their own stories and there are many out there. I feel so much richer having access to them. I am grateful to those who have chosen to share themselves. I am excited that our story has been a catalyst for others to find healing. I know also that it has been a painful reminder for others.

I introduced “The Empty Room” and told of how Rosie had sent the poem to me that second morning of our meeting and how, in response. I had sent it back to her. How she had written my words before I could think them . . . and so well!

We sang the song and we could see how touched people were by the experience. This daughter and father presenting this music they had co-created and then delivering it together. The power of our story and the beauty of our togetherness. I have had people cry often in my performances, but never to the extent of this one. It was a beautiful moment and one I will cherish. This community of people who have known Rosie, and who are so happy for her. Though they were not aware of this “Empty Room” they have become part of the story.

It was a rare opportunity to sing something so true in an environment which was so appropriate.

Rosie had been apprehensive about singing in public. This was a significant act on her part and she was doing it because of me. I am happy to be the excuse!

That night Rosie and Lilly (and Monica’s), brother, Johnny, and his girlfriend, Liz, came over for dinner. Rosie had made a very tasty meal of chicken and pasta and her death-by-garlic salsa. It was delicious! We watched some Youtube videos and then Rosie and I were up late talking. It is always difficult when the visit is winding down. We start thinking about not being together and missing each other before we are even apart. Silly, I know, but we do it!

Rosie seemed to have done pretty well on her first day without coffee . . . the cereal seemed to help, though it wasn’t quite the comfort for her that it is for me.

We went to their congregational gathering at midday and I had trouble staying awake. I think there was more of an emotional toll on Saturday, than I had acknowledged.

I needed to nap, if I was going to be making the 6 hour drive home. Rosie and I curled up on the couch and slept for a few hours . . . enough that I knew I wasn’t leaving, yet! I didn’t want to leave her and I figured I could take the day off, or maybe work in the afternoon. We had one more precious night and I am so glad that I stayed because it gave me the opportunity to hear Rosie and Lilly telling stories about their past. I got to know both of them better. It was refreshing to hear them talking with one another and to get more of a sense of what their family’s story was, at least from their perspective.

Rosie wanted me to read so she got out the Winnie the Pooh collection she had acquired, which relieved me as it had larger type than the other books and I was having difficulty locating my reading glasses.

I read the story about Piglet being surrounded by water. Rosie chose it. I liked her choice. When we were finished, Lilly said she had “never heard anyone read like that”. Thinking back now, I am not sure what she meant by that. I’ll have to ask.

Weekend in Orange County

June 23, 2008

We have had 11 foals so far on the ranch and are trying to stay caught up with them so they don’t get too wild. There are another 9 mares due to foal in the next month.

I spent the weekend with Rosie and Cameron in Orange County. This time I flew down. It was pretty painless, since I didn’t buy the ticket and didn’t have to drive the 6 hours south.

The excuse was that I had offered to play at the schools of Rosie’s nieces and nephew and the Kindergarten teacher of niece, Tiana, was very interested in having me come sing for her kids. This was the time to do it, since school was coming to an imminent halt for the summer.

Rosie picked me up at the airport and we meandered our way to Laguna Beach.

We walked on the beach, sat on a rock looking out at the ocean and avoiding getting swept away by the waves, which I did a little better than my daughter. I reminded her of the “Never turn your back on the ocean” speech and we moved a bit back. I think she was thinking I could’ve been bit more enthusiastic in encouraging her to move out of the way of that wave.

We talked for a long time. I enjoyed sitting in this beautiful setting talking with my favorite person. It was all the more enjoyable due to the presence of a photographer and her model taking advantage of the “golden hour” lighting.

Rosie told me that she didn’t swim and I told her that I didn’t either, not that I couldn’t, but that it was hard work. I grew up with a pool in our back yard, which I spent a great deal of time in. I told her how difficult it was for those of us who have little body fat to keep us afloat. We are just denser! Hmm there isn’t a whole lot of Rosie to be dense, though. Once, a friend who did Wat-Su, water massage, offered to do a session with me in her well-heated pool and later told me that she almost drowned trying to keep me afloat. It was the hardest session she’d ever had!

I could easily see that the woman having her photos taken, did not have the same difficulty. She was well-suited for the activity they were engaged in and could probably stay afloat without too much difficulty. There were some costume changes, which, unfortunately, occurred while my attention was riveted on my conversation with Rosie.

We gave up our perch on the rock to a couple having their portraits done and walked back down the beach to look for dinner. We continued our conversation on the deck of a comfortable French restaurant near the beach.

Rosie let me know that my school performance would only be Tiana’s class and so my concern about the space for the singing was minimal.

Rosie had wanted to practice the songs we were going to be singing for the picnic on the 28th for her congregation. She was resistant to actually doing it and it took a little coaxing to find out why that was. She did tell me that she was concerned about measuring up . . . worried that I wouldn’t like the way she sang, worried that she wouldn’t be able to write with me. I tried to assure her that she only had to be herself to be good enough for me. Her mere existence was all I required, the rest was gravy! I love the way she sings. She sounds like no one I have heard . . . and to me that shows a lot. I love the idea of watching her unfold and bloom as she comes into owning her voice and her presence. She says that she is surprised that people ask her to sing. She acquiesces because it gives them joy, but she is uncomfortable about it. I like that she is conscious of it.

We did get some practicing accomplished . . . it was hardly work. I love rehearsing and creating parts, at least as much as performing them. Often, the performance can be disappointing, but the rehearsal is full of promise and the unknown. Amazing things happen in that space where you feel free to try things out. I love the times when that happens onstage. I read something that Dick Cavett wrote recently about Groucho Marx saying that those times when you are truly euphoric in performance are rare. He said maybe a half a dozen times in a career.

Rosie seemed to have become more comfortable about singing with me. It seemed to be that initial hesitation that we had to overcome. The singing went great!

We had been meaning to finish up the melody for “Empty Room”. I wanted to do it with Rosie so that it would be a melody that she was comfortable singing and so she would feel like she had some say in what it would be.

We got some good work done. I inputted the chords into one of the programs on my computer so that Rosie wouldn’t be hampered by my changing the chords on the guitar every time I played the song, as I am want to do. I had the chords pretty much set by the time I went downstairs in the morning and we played with singing along to the computer. Parts of the melody started to solidify. I plugged my computer into her digital piano, after some effort, and began playing with the shape of the melody. The song was beginning to take up residence in my conscious mind and that meant that the tune was taking form and before that happened I wanted to get Rosie’s input.

I played with it until it was time to go to Tiana’s school. We arrived to a parking lot full of parents picking up and dropping off. Rosie dropped me off and went in search of the Kindergarten Room, which to my mind was going to be in the general vicinity of the sign on the fence which said Kindergarten. I was correct.

Children congealed until we were ready to get started, though Tiana wasn’t yet there. She usually goes in the morning and was coming back to school for the singing.

We had fun, Rosie got to see what I do (at least with Kindergarteners). The teachers were appreciative and understood what I was doing. Hopefully, their enthusiasm will translate into the school scheduling performances next school year.

We went out to lunch with Cameron’s mother and sisters and their friend Huntyr. I got back to working on the melody when we got home. That evening, Rosie’s friends Sarah and Clarisa came over and we watched a film that Rosie had told me about, “August Rush”. It was a film about a young boy who had been raised in an orphange and went in search of his parents. They were all musicians and the music was what eventually brought them together. It was a powerful film for me to watch . . . the best kind!

I liked many elements of the film and resonated with much of it. I was grateful that Rosie shared it with me.

The next morning we sat down and sang along to the chords I had been working with. Rosie sang her part and that was a piece I needed. I wanted to hear how she interpreted the melody into the chords. I could change the chords, if need be, but I wanted to hear what melody she would hear.

I savored the moment as she listened to the recording of her voice against the instruments the computer had provided. It was an rough instrumental sketch, but a valid one. I wondered how she would feel about her singing, whether she might be too self-conscious to hear how great it sounded. I was happy to hear she liked it!

We decided to each sing what she had written, rather than writing more verses. I put a key change in before my verse to make it more comfortable to sing and also to give the listener something different. I wasn’t able to get my vocal recorded on the most recent update of the chords, so we agreed that I would do it at home and send Rosie some versions to sing with.

We went to the service at the Kingdom Hall and I was greeted by many of the people I had met on my last visit. The talk was given by Bill Hamilton, who had given the talk on my previous visit. I was told later that was very unusual because the speakers are on a rotating basis and usually only give one or two talks a year, but Bill was substituting for someone else. It was good to become familiar with him, as he is someone both Rosie and Cameron have deep affection and respect for. It was apparent that he feels the same about them. Bill and I made a point to get together to talk on my next visit.

We went to pizza with Cameron’s sisters and Tiana, and then Cameron and I went out to attack some little white balls with long skinny sticks. We were not completely unsuccessful. It was more fun than I had anticipated. We were joined by a very nice couple who were a bit more successful and knowledgeable about such things than we were. All in all it was a quite enjoyable time and Cameron and I got to spend some time together. I am sure we shall do more of it.

Golf

It was a short night. I had a 7:00am flight out of Long Beach, so I was up at 4:00. It was an easy trip to the airport and by 10:00 I was back out on the ranch working with the babies.

Santa Maria

June 23, 2008

To keep our connection fresh, Rosie and I decided to meet halfway between our homes. As luck would have it, her Gramma Teri and Papa Dick live in Santa Maria and offered their house to us as our meeting place.

I drove the 3 hours down Hwy 101, realizing that, if it was halfway, it was about the same distance as driving down Hwy 5. Other than the novelty of driving a route that I don’t normally take, There wasn’t much to recommend taking Hwy 5. I have always enjoyed 101. The landmarks fall just about in the right places. King City is about an hour out, San Luis Obispo is about 2 hours out, Santa Barbara always feels do-able from San Luis, and Santa Barbara is way over the hump . . . and just about there.

I made better time than I had anticipated, so I stopped at a team roping event in SLO, thinking that the fellow I board my horses with might be competing there. I watched briefly, took a few photos and after a quick perusal of the horse trailers parked out in the field, I didn’t immediately see anyone I knew, so I figured it was time to get back on the road.

Rosie had given me directions to her Grandmother’s and they worked! I arrived to the welcome of Rosie, and Gramma Teri and Papa Dick, Rosie’s mom’s father.

Melissa and Cynthia, two of their three other daughters and their families were soon going to be arriving to meet with “Rosie’s Dad”. The first group included Rick, Cynthia’s husband, Kevin and T.J., a couple of young guitar playing relatives. We played for each other and Rosie and I sang a song for them. We played them the latest version of “There’s A Light In You”, from the CD I made for Rosie of the new recording project.

Bob And T.J.

Don and Rosie’s Aunt Melissa arrived and then her Aunt Cynthia. We ate tacos and strawberries and talked.

It was good to meet more of the people who have been a part of Rosie’s story. Gramma Teri is one of a kind. She is intelligent, observant, outspoken and a little used to getting her way, I suspect. Though she probably doesn’t think so. She has been a great asset in this adventure. I am grateful for the support she has offered.

We went for a walk and watched the sun set out towards the ocean we knew was out there. Our conversations have been deep and meaningful. I value them very highly and look forward to many more. She asks me questions and I tell her as much of the truth as I think I know. I’m not too sure what to do about the parts I think I don’t know.

I was hoping to read something to Rosie, because I love to read aloud. We went into room and closets in search of Winnie the Pooh, which would have been my first choice. My mother read them A.A. Milne books to me when I was very young, as did Rosie’s. They hold a dear place in my heart. Reading those lines to my daughter would be intoxicating.

We were not able to come up with any Winnie, but almost simultaneously, came up with an alternative in Mark Twain. The writings of Samuel Clemens have been an important influence in my thinking and writing and I was surprised to hear that Rosie enjoyed him as well.

I read “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”, noting to Rosie that my Dad’s father, her great-grandfather, Thomas Henry Reid jr, was born in Angels Camp.

I enjoyed reliving the Twain story, it always seems fresh, though I know I’ve heard the words many times. I remember going to the Jumping Frog contest in Angels Camp with some friends sometime in high school. I wasn’t sure if Rosie was able to stick with me. I know that my voice can have a tendency to put people to sleep. Not in a bad way. I’m usually complimented by it. She got through the jumping frog, but we bit off a bit more than we could chew in the “Corruption of Hadleyburg”. By the time I looked to see how many pages we had left, I realized I never would’ve started, had I known. I must admit that now I am going to have to go back and find the story so that I can see how it does end.

We stayed up way too late, as we tend to do.

There’s just never a good time to let sleep intrude on this wonderful dream we are living!

Leaving Rosie’s

June 4, 2008

Our last day!

On Monday, we drove around the area to see if there was somewhere I might be interested in living so that Rosie and I could be closer. There are many horse facilities in the area and plenty of places to ride. That part seemed compatible. We rode through the canyons and they seemed funky enough that I might find neighbors I might resonate with. There are kids, schools. It is certainly an exciting possibility.

This experience has given me an opportunity to assess my current life and to reorder my priorities. I am not yet sure how things will look when I have finished, but I do know that things will not be the same.

My life here on the ranch has become comfortable in terms of knowing my job and feeling confident in my abilities. I have developed a little bit of a reputation here. I would certainly miss all of the horses, but that is not a reason to stay. It is an unending cycle here and there will never be a good time to leave. The upcoming crop of foals will send a wave through the ranch.

My visit with Rosie has been a time of deep conversations and little sleep. Waking in the middle of the night with my mind churning. Looking for the significance of events. I have gotten to know my daughter better and am looking forward to a life in connection and in support.

I am energized by the healing that others seem to be doing as a result of our story. It seems that there are many others with stories that are resonating with ours. It feels good to see others taking the opportunity for healing. I know that there can be pain involved in that healing, but I do believe that it is worth what is on the other side.

I have had the easiest seat in all of this. Rosie, her mother, her siblings, Cameron, all have a more difficult adjustment. It can’t be easy to suddenly have someone, who is intimately involved in your life, experience such an intense reevaluation of their identity.

There are likely to be missteps by each of us. There will be much opportunity for misunderstanding, as there will be opportunity for understanding. There is certainly the opportunity to dwell upon what might have been. I find it helpful to remember what my horse friend, Richard Winters, says about it being okay for the horse to look at something, but it’s not okay for it to stare. It tends to lead to problems.

Rosie and I have the opportunity to build a bridge between our religious beliefs. I am willing to keep an open mind. I hope to understand her beliefs. I intend to honor them, even though I may not share them. It is part of my religious upbringing that everyone has the right to freedom of belief. We live in a country that was founded upon that principle, though it seems to be in disarray. I believe that this is one of the messages of our story. I believe that we can be a model for acceptance of religious differences. I may be overly optimistic, but it is my hope.

I am thankful to everyone who has been supportive in this process. I know that we will have need of your hopes and prayers as we move through this story. There is still more joy, more pain to come, I’m sure. We will have many opportunities to try to untangle the ball of emotion that has been winding for the past 36 years as events are re-understood.

Rosie is weaving a new identity, a new family into the old. Things that she thought she knew, she knows differently.

I have no experience walking the ground she is walking. I can only try to be there when I am needed, to offer my perspective and love.

Sunday!

June 4, 2008

I’ve got to get to writing about this while it’s still in my mind.

We had spent long hours talking the night before and revealed some intimate thoughts and feelings to one another. It was good, open, honest communication. I was honored to have Rosie be so candid and to know that she wanted the same from me. She was respectful of my privacy, but let me know what she wanted to know about.

 
As anyone who has read her blog knows, Rosie is very intelligent, and perceptive. I have enjoyed the quality of our conversations very much. It is like we have known each other for a long time. It feels as though we don’t just finish each other’s sentences, we think each other’s thoughts. It is eerie!

Sunday morning, Cameron was off to work a motocross event at Angels’ Stadium for the day. He was a pretty big time motocross champion in his younger days.

After a morning of deep conversation, I took the dogs for a walk, trying to try out my horse skills on these “predators” to see what the difference was. There wasn’t much. I felt that I could transfer a lot of my knowledge to dogs, if I kept my mind awake. On our walk, my mind was mostly kept awake by the idea that I didn’t quite know where I was going. When I had walked with Rosie, we were doing a lot of talking and there wasn’t much that looked familiar. It turned out that we had covered a lot more ground than I had thought. I briefly thought about going back the way I came, but then figured, just how lost could I get? I had some landmarks.

I got back and it was getting on time to get ready to go to the Kingdom Hall. I knew that there would be a crowd of people wanting to meet me and I was eager to meet them. It was clear that this was a community of people who mean a great deal to Rosie and I was curious to see what they felt like.

I put on my new suit, courtesy of Cameron, and we had some left-over pizza and Cameron’s mother’s pumpkin pie with whipped cream for lunch.

We drove to the Kingdom Hall which is on Via Con Dios. This is the street in Santa Margarita on which all of the “churches” have been built. It is next to the Mormon temple. We entered and found our seats. I was greeted by several people whom I had met at Rosie’s on Thursday. The talk was given by Bill, a close friend of both Rosie and Cameron’s. His talk was on Forgiveness. It was a timely topic for Rosie as she has been struggling with it. I think his talk helped clarify some things for her. It certainly seemed helpful.

The second part of the service was a question and answer session about seeing others as Jehovah would see them. The gist was that rather than simply seeing faults, as we often do, Jehovah sees the whole of the person. That, if Jehovah can accept their participation in the community, those within the community might accept that they do not know the entire story, as only God can. It was an interesting idea. I can see how helpful that would be when people start judging one another in the community.

The leader of the discussion, would ask scripted questions and the congregation would raise their hands if they had an answer. Everyone was invited to participate. Children were treated as equals and it was encouraging to hear how seriously they took their participation.

After the discussion, a final song was sung and then we, informally, became center stage. Many people had been waiting to come over and introduce themselves and meet me and to tell me how much they thought of Rosie. Many had been reading the blogs and told me that they felt that they knew me already.

Each person was quite genuine and sincere in their joy for us. There were a few tears. I felt that I was awash in an ocean of Rosie’s friends. I felt valued. I felt quite touched and look forward to seeing the community again.

We got home and napped, which was getting to be a pretty solid part of our schedule. Cameron returned from his event and fixed an amazing dinner of pasta with scallops and fish. It was delicious. It would’ve been difficult to find a restaurant that served as good a meal.

After dinner we were looking for a film to watch and after attempting “The New World”, the Pocahontas/John Smith story done again, we settled on “Words and Music” the Drew Barrymore/Hugh Grant flick. it was actually quite cute and funny.

After the film Cameron went to bed and Rosie and I sat up and talked until late. I was planning to leave the next day and she was becoming wistful about that.

Rosie’s Family and Friends (Saturday)

May 28, 2008

Since I arrived on Wednesday, I have met a parade of Rosie’s family and friends and have been welcomed warmly by all. She has a large community of people who truly care about her. It is clear to me that they are a large factor in why she is who she is. After, of course, the family she was raised in.

It was important to Rosie that I experience this community that is so important to her. On Saturday, we went to the dedication of the Wilmington Kingdom Hall which she and Cameron had helped to remodel.

Rosie had explained to me that the Kingdom Halls, which is what Jehovah’s Witnesses call their meeting places, are built by all volunteer work. They break into teams (Rosie and Cameron are on the electrical team), on a regional basis and accomplish the construction much faster than a normal construction crew. They also have no paid staff. Everyone volunteers their time toward the maintenance of the community.

On the way to the dedication, we stopped off in the garment district in downtown LA where Cameron wanted to buy a suit for me. We went to the clothing business he frequents and I had fun picking a suit with the help of Rosie, the store owner and a wonderful woman who seemed to be the chief consultant for everyone within her sight. She’d be telling us which suit she approved of for me, whether the suit jacket fit, what tie to wear with what shirt and with that particular suit. I felt I was in good hands. She was there with her grandsons to get them dressed for their father’s funeral.

We had an hour to pick a suit, zip next door to get it altered, and be on our way to the dedication.

We did it with ease and managed to eat lunch as well.

We arrived at the Hall early and had the opportunity to tour the facility. There were photos of the work that had been done to remodel this particular Kingdom Hall, which had been condemned, due to structural damage caused by the building of a Highway ramp just behind the building. They had to sue CalTrans, trying to gain damages to repair the building. They won the case, but were only awarded the minumum, which was far less than what they needed. They went ahead and did the repairs on their own.

The dedication consisted of a talk by a visiting “brother” from back east, I believe he was from New York, though it may have been New Jersey.

He spoke of the importance of taking care of the building and illustrated his reasons with quotations from the Bible. To my mind, the thinking was a little forced, his interpretations seemed to stretch the words to fit. My lack of sleep was not helpful to keeping focused on the talk. Rosie had told me that she would understand if I had to leave at some point and I was grateful for her understanding and support. I was interested enough that leaving never entered my mind, though sleeping did.

I have had no real experience with Jehovah’s Witnesses, except for those who have knocked on my door. My experiences with them have been pleasant, they have listened to my differing views with respect. They seemed quite earnest and likable people.

This was my first exposure to Rosie’s larger community of people. This is the community, the family, that has kept her afloat through a life that has had more than it’s share of difficulties. I am grateful to them for that! I want to understand who she is and am keeping my mind open in experiencing her religion is a large part of that.

This community of people seem to be genuinely beyond race. They actively seek connection with people of other cultures and value the idea of living among a commuinty of many cultural facets. I applaud them for that. I have rarely been in a situation with so many cultures interacting so comfortably. Interracial relationships seem common as people are seen as being more than their race.The focus is elsewhere. I think this is what has allowed Rosie to grow up “outside of race”. She has nieces and nephews who share a multiracial background.

I understand religious persecution. I have experienced how people respond to a religion that is not one of the “regular” ones. I am aware that we live in a nation founded upon religious freedom, in which there is a reality of religious intolerance.

I believe that the differences in our religious views is not something that will come between us. Our bond feels strong and underlies everything. I believe that we will find peaceful co-existence, though I know that, since she believes that there will be eternal life in Paradise, she does not like the thought that that eternal life might not include me, if I don’t believe what she believes. I understand that fear. Now that we have found one another, she does want it to ever end. Neither do I.

Since this was a dedication for the congregation and these who worked on the construction teams, I wasn’t there as “Rosie’s Father” and was introduced that way to only a few people. So, I got have a low profile and observe.

When we returned home, we fell into bed, as none of us had been getting much sleep these nights. Rosie and I have been staying up late talking and I think I was getting more sleep than she was . . . and I was only getting a couple of hours! I would fall asleep, only to awaken, an hour or two later, with my mind chewing on the events of the day, holding them up alongside of what Rosie has told me of her life. We have been very open and honest about our lives with one another, though, as she has said, I know more about hers than she knows about mine. We have been working on that and will continue. I do want her to know and understand who I am. She has read through my blog of the last several years and that has been a starting point. There is much that is not told in those pages. I am grateful that I have those words to point her to in her efforts to know me.

We had time for a brief nap before the family arrived at 6:00 for pizza and to meet Rosie’s Dad. Cameron’s mother, two of her daughters, Charlene and Tammi, and two of her grandchildren, Chantel and Tiana, and Rosie’s sister, Monica, and her children, Benjamin and India Rose.

Cameron made us his wonderful pizza. He had a restaurant in Winnipeg and is an amazing cook. We had his pizza, corn on the cob, a platter of carrots, celery and snow peas, along with the hot links that Lottie had sent home with Rosie.

I have been quite pampered on this visit.

After dinner we moved into the living room for some music. Charlene played the piano. Rosie has a nice digital piano which fits nicely in the living room and sounds wonderful. Cameron’s sister is a fairly accomplished pianist, though she doesn’t currently have a piano. I wish I could get such sound out of that instrument. Rosie took her turn on the piano bench and played a sweet, delicate piece. India treated us to her version of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and Tiana honored us with a brief, never before heard improvised piece. I even took my turn. I figured if they were willing to share what they could do, I’d give it a go as well.
Charlene led a song from the Witness’s song book and then I pulled my guitar out of the case and got India and Tiana to sing the “Shirt Song” with me. They did quite well, as I suspected they might. We sang “Mrs. Murphys Chowder”, “Kick and Glide” and Rosie and I sang, “There’s a Light In You”. I sang “From the Heart” and later remembered to share “He May Be Slow”, realizing that this family of Tammi’s would resonate with the song I dedicate to my sister, Dorrie.

It was a sweet evening and I look forward to more of them!


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