Thanks to the resourcefulness of my sister Tracy, the girls and I were able to fly to Sacramento to surprise my brother Chris, who was honored with a Silver Star for bravery by the Sacramento Sheriff's Department. Initially, I thought there was no way I could make the ceremony, as flying alone with two girls (and two car seats) seemed beyond my abilities. But Tracy, who was visiting friends on the east coast, arranged her flights to come through St. Louis and help me with the girls. Upon arriving at Chris and Tracy's house (Clara calls it "Sacramento House,") we walked through the door, surprised Chris, and immediately a grinning Clara was enveloped by her cousins, amongst whom she spent the rest of the visit, running around, kicking balls, blowing bubbles, whatever they could think of. Kate practiced her walking while trying not to get dizzy from all the activity around her.
The girls and I surprised my Mom at her school, where she showed us off to anyone and everyone. I got the idea that if the kids were taking their most important test of the year, she would have burst in to show off her granddaughters anyway.
Chris was given his Silver Star at a classy ceremony that managed to capture the appropriate tone of heroism while maintaining a humility necessary to those who risk their lives for the public good. The term "hero" was rarely used. Rather, "courage," "quick-thinking," and "sacrifice" were used to describe how each of the thirty or so officers earned awards ranking from Life Saving to Chris' Silver Star. I videotaped the opening of the ceremony then turned off the camera, as Chris was amongst the last group honored. But as the MC read how each officer earned his or her award, I was so moved by what they had done I had to turn the camera back on. I already knew Chris' story was extraordinary, but somehow it made me even more proud of him to be amongst such people. I'm sure the feeling was as strong or stronger in our mother or in Tracy, but I was so proud watching the Sheriff place the medal around Chris' neck that it was as if I was receiving the award myself.
Chris describes the incident in his blog: Sacramento Deputy Diaries
I took the girls to the Bay Area for a few days to meet the St. Ignatius crowd ("Bridge, City, Daddy's School!") Then we spent two wonderful days with Michelle and her boys Andrew and Justin. Michelle and I pretty much stood back and tried to contain the storm. Clara immediately took to Andrew, her new best friend. Kate and Justin toddled around like an old couple. Clara still hasn't stopped talking about Andrew and their visit to the toddler zoo. A highlight for me was a dinner with the Etters and Tom, Allison, and new baby Colleen Burns. Our get-togethers have changed since college. Check out posts on March 17 and 18 in Michelle's blog: Mountain View Mommy.
What? You don't have a blog?
On the last night in Sacramento we filled a restaurant with our laughter and silliness - all that was missing was Megan. Chris flew home with us and stayed the weekend. When we sit down at the dinner table now, Clara points to a chair and says, "That's where Uncle Chris sits."
Grandma, Kate, Great-Grandma