Sunday, September 28, 2008

Twelve Years in Review

Pops and I have been married 12 years as of today.

This is for you Pops. A record of our time together. We can read this again and again in the future. Aj and Ki will be able to read this record and get the details and emotions of our time together.

We met 18 years ago. I had just moved to the Bay Area and coincidentally ended up with a physical therapist as a roommate. She took me to the holiday party of one of her co-workers. It was at Pops apartment and that was the night I met him. I remember being stunned by the beauty of his striking green eyes.
We dated for a long time. One summer we drove up and stayed at a friends home outside of Yosemite. The next day Pops and I climbed Half Dome. Pops had come up with an amazing plan. He would propose to me at the top of Half Dome. We made it to the top-but on the way up he talked himself out of it. We were staying at our girlfriend's house that night and it would be odd to share such a special time with a third person. To this day he swears it wasn't that he got cold feet. I still give him a hard time that it would have made the last half of the Half Dome near-death march a hell of a lot easier. He later proposed to me on my 32nd birthday, November 25th of 1995. He took me out to dinner to Bella Vista and when we returned to my place we lit a fire and he asked me to marry him. I said, "Yes. Now get in the car." I had him drive us down the street to Printers Inc book store where I bought 5 bridal magazines.

In August my father and his wife had a shower for us in San Diego. Three of our friends got together and surprised us with a puppy. We had talked of getting chocolate lab. Pops grew up with them and I am also a dog lover. The 10 week old chocolate lab with puppy-green eyes and razor sharp teeth was our favorite gift. She flew home in a carrier under my seat. At the moment she is asleep on the floor.

In September of 1996 we married.
We had our rehearsal dinner at Manka's in Pt Reyes. Manka's is an old hunting lodge and well known restaurant. The resident 120 pound yellow lab, Louie, greeted the guests. Pops spent the night in one of the cabins at Manka's. I spent the night at The Olema Inn and shared the room with one of my favorite girlfriends.
We were married in Nicassio, CA around noon. Nicassio has a little league field, a cowboy bar and a tiny church. An unpretentious church for an unpretentious couple. St Mary's Catholic Church was built in the early 1900's. Our 120 guests filled the church. I was late for the wedding. My girlfriend was driving and we got lost. When we got to the church my dress had some wardrobe malfunction issues. Outside, I stood on the steps while bridesmaids fluttered about trying to mend it. Inside, the multi-talented Priest played Pac a Bells Canon on the electric key board he'd brought. He played it again, and again and again. Pops finally sent out one of the groomsmen to see what was going on. We eventually made it in and all went well.

We had a reception with a late sit down lunch at the Olema Inn. The Olema Inn is an old place that at one time served as housing for military troops. Guests had a choice of pasta, chicken or salmon. The cake was from a local wacky baker and the flowers from a local wacky florist. Our first dance was to "Takes My Breath Away" as sung by Tuck and Patty on their 1988 album Tears of Joy.

Takes My Breath Away
(Claire Hamill)
© Ackee Music, Inc. (ASCAP)

Sometimes it amazes me, how strong the power of love can be, and sometimes you just take my breath away. You've watched my love grow like a child, sometimes gentle and sometimes wild, and sometimes you just take my breath away.

It's too good to slip by, it's too good to lose, too good to be there just to use. Gonna stand on a mountain top and tell the news, that you take my breath away.

Your beauty is there in all I see, and when I feel your eyes on me, ooh don't you know you just take my breath away. My life is yours, my heart will be, singing for you eternally, oh don't you know you just take my breath away.


After the wedding we went back to the tiny log cabin at Manka's and . And after that we slept a sound sleep. We had planned to go to dinner at Manka's. Instead we ditched the reservation and went and hung out with our out of town guests who had rented out a really cool house in Pt Reyes. In the morning we had a breakfast for those who were still in town. More time to chat and a chance to open wedding gifts.
Later Sunday afternoon we packed the gifts into our friends van. It was then that we discovered the baskets from the church. They had held the wedding programs during the ceremony. Unfortunately, they were the collection baskets from the churhc, and mass had ended a few hours previously. There was no resident priest at St. Mary's, so we left the baskets with the bar tender at the bar next door.

Pops and I drove up to Mendicino for a 2 night stay at a bed and breakfast. We then returned home for 2 weeks before heading out to the Cook Islands for a 2 week honeymoon. We stayed on the islands of Aitutaki and Roratonga. We fell in love with kind nature of the Maori people. They exchanged the greeting "Kia orana" with warm eyes and cheerful faces. Pops and I talked of one day having a baby girl and naming her Kia in memory of the culture and people we fell in love with. Of course we were a bit worried that it sounded like a cheap car.

Before and after our wedding Pops and I were busy moving up the ladder in our careers. Pops became a manager over many clinics with Health South and I became a manger in the Rehab Department at Stanford Hospital.

In March of 1997 we purchased our first and current home for under half a million. It's value has now doubled. But so has the value of every other home around us.

A month later my mother informed me that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer, again. In her late 30's, when I was 2 or 3, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a radical mastectomy on her left side. This time she had known for a few months, but had not wanted worry me and had planned to go through the surgery alone. I, of course, flew down to be with her. That weekend it also became clear how significant my father's COPD was. I remember experiencing significant anxiety over how I could care for both of my aging parents. Mom had chosen to get a mastectomy versus a lumpectomy. Mom's surgery went well and she bounced back like the incredibly strong person she has always been. Test results from near by lymph nodes revealed no cancer.

Around that time we were overjoyed to find that were pregnant. Thanks to ovulation predictor tests, we are clear that we conceived on Holly St in South Lake Tahoe while we were up skiing. At about 8 weeks into the pregnancy Pops and I went for my first exam with our obstetrician. A couple weeks earlier on April fools I had tried to get Pops with the joke that I was pregnant with triplets. So when the doctor announced I was carrying twins, Pops had trouble initially believing it. My "advanced" age of 34 was the only reason. Evidently, I am very good at ovulating. For 10 weeks we marveled at the fact that we were having twins. What sex they were would be a surprise. No matter what sex they were, we would not dress them alike. Should we get one crib or two? At an ultrasound at 18 weeks we baffled and devastated to hear that one of our twins didn't look good. Another ultrasound a week later confirmed that "baby b", a girl, had multi-cystic kidneys and would not survive. It was recommended that I carry the pregnancy with both babies, knowing that the girl would not survive and hoping that the boy would. The fear was that Baby B would pass-on and throw me into premature delivery. It was the heaviest pain either Pops or I had ever experienced. I felt like a medical text case on bizarre pregnancies. Could this really be happening to us??

At 28 weeks I began contracting too much and too often and was told to go on bed rest. A couple tests at Stanford each week. A few more stints in the hospital with pre-term labor that, thankfully, never progressed beyond just that. With the aid of dear friends, Pops and I began to appreciate Baby B for the soul who was sent to be Baby A's guardian angel and soul mate. At 38 weeks of gestation I was induced and had a complicated, horrific, vaginal delivery. At approximately 8 pm on November
8th, 1998 it was with great joy and and great sorrow that the twins were born. Baby A, Aj, was delivered and promptly taken to the NICU. Baby B, whom we named Mary, was incredibly strong and lived through the delivery. I held her as Pops held me and she died on our arms. We never saw her eyes open. That was okay with me, I already felt like I knew her soul. She had a fairly full head of dark hair. Aj had a round golden head. A beautiful head gifted by angels. He was immediately put on a ventilator and IV antibiotics. Finally, Pops was able to take me in a wheelchair to see Aj. In an exhausted state like nothing I have ever known, I asked what his status was. The doctor told us it was "guarded". A week later we brought a now healthy Aj home and had funeral for baby Mary. Pops came up wit the name Mary. When I was born I was premature and weighed only 3 pounds 7 ounces. So 45 years ago, that was a pretty tiny baby. My Mom was fearful I would die and she wanted to hold off on naming me. They did decide to have me baptised. The Catholic nuns insisted on a name. And not surprisingly they bestowed me with Mary. Hence, Pops wanting that name. OF NOTE: You may have realized that I do not still carry that name. The reason being, according to my Mom, is that "Mary McCrary" sounded too much like an Irish lullaby. Instead she later named me Judith after St Jude, the saint of hopeless cases.
Through out all of that Pops and I felt so supported and loved by one another and so very much so by friends and family. Seven months later I returned to work at Stanford Hospital as a part-time employee.
When Aj was a baby we were able to have 4 generations in Pops family together. Grandma Christine (pops grandmother), Pops Mom Lena, Pops and baby Aj. An amazing spread of years. Grandma Christine was blind by then, a bit hearing impaired and probably had some dementia. But when she held that baby boy and fed him his bottle she was real clear on what was going on.

Maybe 18 months later we experienced a first trimester miscarriage. Pops and I weathered it well. A few months later I was pregnant again and we were thrilled. When Aj was 18 months old we travelled to Kauai, HA. I was a few months pregnant by then and felt great. One day on the beach I heard a family call their daughter over, "KIANNA!".

Sometime during the pregnancy with Ki, it became apparent that at 21 months of age, Aj was not developing typically. He had been monitored closely, but the motor milestones were behind and he had only a limited number of simple syllable productions and no words. He was evaluated by an SLP I vaguely knew and she insensitively confirmed by biggest fear. A significant delay. He was evaluated by and qualified for GGRC early intervention services. We were off and running.

At 22 weeks into my pregnancy, the amnio confirmed a healthy baby girl. A follow up ultrasound a few weeks later was significant for what they thought was a low weight baby. So once again I was brought in a few times a week for testing on the baby inside me. The fear and anxiety from the first pregnancy resurfaced and Pops and I worked hard to keep it at bay. My unmedicated depression felt very large at times, however, I was determined to not take antidepressants while pregnant. Pops and I were feeling cursed by all of these painful things that kept happening.

We entertained ourselves by trying to come up with a name. We seriously considered Gisella and Sabina (or Sabine. I remembered the little girl's name I had heard on the beach. Myself, my mother, my grandmother, my cousin and Pops grandmother all had "Anne" as a first or middle name. The combination of KIA from the Cook Island greeting and the family name of Anne seemed perfectly melded in Kianna. Not to mention that it was then that I dug out the guide book from our honeymoon and looked up "Kia Orana" and found that translated it meant "May you live well". Her middle name "Marie" was in memory of the baby who would have been her older sister. Our dear friend Sandrini was present for Ki's birth. I was induced at 41 weeks and just missed having Ki have the bday of 1.1.01. Instead she was born on 1.2.01 following an uncomplicated and relatively easy delivery. Pops, Sandrini and I were not surprised to see her head of dark hair, just like baby Mary. There is a definite soul connection there. Ki came home a healthy baby, and she was not low birth weight. All the extra worry and testing had been unnecessary.

Still need to do some editing for this, but I will post it now.
More later-goodnight. Love ya Pops. Happy Anniversary.
It has been quite journey.


  1. Love this!! The first thing I noticed when I met "the daddy" was his eyes too. Congratulations!

  2. Thanks so much for sharing this beautiful, touching entry.
    thank you.

  3. thank you for sharing... It feels good to know that whole story since I feel like I've known you my whole life. You and Pops are a remarkable couple and we are honored to know you both.

    Congratulations on the family you have built and the love you have shared in the face of adversity and the warmth of joy.
    We love you-
    jennyalice and Descartes

    p.s. sorry I couldn't watch the kids for you.. maybe next week?

  4. What a journey this has been! I really wept as I read this remembering all that your family has experienced. Yet you are still together and thriving. That is amazing and inspiring. Being with you all thru this is one of things I am most proud of in my life!Sandrini