When one marries a person and they have a child from a previous marriage, there might be problems. That is if you believe the Disney movies and the Lifetime Channel. When I met Mitch’s daughter Rachel, she was one month shy of 10 years old. I saw her for the first time on July 4th 2000. We were going to go to Gasworks park to watch the fireworks and hope that it didn’t rain and spoil our fun. I had met Mitch the month before, by answering his online dating ad and we’d had our first in-person date on Father’s day 2000. He had been with Rachel until about 3pm that day and was then free to meet up with me for a quick beer and really to see if we would hit it off. As you may have guessed…we did…hit it off. Early in our correspondence and then during subsequent phone calls, he told me and then reminded me a lot, that Rachel was his number one priority. You know what? That was not an issue with me. I’d met enough guys that didn’t know anything about their kids, to know that Mitch had his own personal priorities straight. So early on the 4th we made our picnic, drove both our cars to pick up the girls, as Rachel was bringing her friend Lauren M (she had two friends Lauren) so she wouldn’t be too bored with us. We drove both cars because we lived in opposite directions of the park and I had to work the next day. As I pulled up behind Mitch’s Trooper, the two girls got out and we were introduced. As we discussed where we would park, I could see Rachel slyly checking me out. Throughout the day and evening we played games and explored the very crowded park and then topped it off with some very cool fireworks followed by a 2 hour wait in traffic to get home. The day had been a success….except for the part where I had to be in traffic, I mean parked for an additional 2 hours.
This first meeting with Rachel began a friendship and love like nothing I’ve experienced. I often say that I couldn’t love her more or be more proud of her if I had ‘squirted’ her out myself. When we moved to Hawaii, Rachel was the hardest tether to stretch. Sure she’s a confident young woman now, but she still needs her parents. It makes my heart swell when she call us her parents…..even though she has her mom….Mitch and I are her parents. I like that. One of the final in person conversations that we had with her before moving, was to assure her that we would be at her graduation from the University of Washington. Once we got to Hawaii and were settled it occurred to me that we would need someone to look after the cat. When we lived in Seattle that wasn’t a problem. We took turns with some friends in the neighborhood watching their cats and all was all right.
So what does one do when they need some help? They turn to Facebook and send out a request to their friends. I knew enough people who wanted to come to Hawaii and stay free of charge for the purr pleasure of taking care of a cat that FB was the most logical way to do it. I posted a request something like this, ” Hey who’s interested in house sitting and watching Cica for us while we go to Seattle for Rachel’s graduation?” I got some random people, but there was one big contender. The odd thing was it was someone who I’d never met in person before. I know I know, who has friends on Facebook they’ve never met…but I had one. It was a very nice guy in Minnesota whose blog I followed for a few years and then he sort of dried up on the writing and he migrated to Facebook…so when he was suggested by the well wishing folks at FB, we became friends. The odd thing about that was, the Facebook thing was now a more personal experience and I could ‘see’ his family and what they were up to. Granted his posts and photos weren’t near as funny as his usual posting, but I looked past that to his true everyday humor. So my friend Jeff, said he and his wife were interested in house sitting…if the stars aligned right. The caveat was their 17-year-old daughter Rosie was supposed to go to Florida for marine biology schooling and they weren’t sure if the timing would work out. Well by gum, they made it work because Florida got left in the waves for University of Hawaii in Hilo for THEIR marine biology program. As it worked out the program started the day before we got back. They arrived on the Monday before we left for Seattle so we got to spend a few hours.
We made our way to Seattle where the weather, the food, the people visiting, the graduation, the family time and everything in between was near perfect. I say near perfect because the place we rented and fell into bed every night had only a full size bed, and we’re used to a King size. This visit was way way to short. Even though we were happy with our move to Hawaii, we miss our friends and family like crazy.
Now lets fast forward a month or so. For the past few weeks Rachel has been with us in Hawaii. I’ve gone to work everyday (more about my job at a later date) and Mitch and Rachel played tourist. Over the years I’ve felt the teeniest bit guilty about interrupting the dad/daughter time, because they’ve always been close and really enjoy each others company. So with a new person in the mix, time was now diluted. Therefore we always made the goal for consistent quality time when we were together. It’s been so long since they had one on one time that at first I was a little jealous that they got to go around the island doing things and visiting places that I already loved. But I sucked it up and we made our one on one time count on the weekends and evenings. We had a blast, so many miles travelled, so much food eaten and lots and lots of laughter. But now she’s flown off on the next short adventure. Before she heads to Seattle she is making a stop in Vegas to get some much-needed girlfriend time. I say hoo-ray! You only go around once so live it while you can, when you have the available time and the money to do it. I know I did!