Twenty five years ago today I had an important meeting with the owners of Fox Music House. They were rescuing me from my failed business and hiring me all at the same time. We had a meeting scheduled to sign all the papers that morning. As luck would have it, Jeanie was in labor, but we knew it would be hours before she delivered. We had been through this “birthing thing” twice before, so we were experts.
We called the doctor to tell them she was in labor and I went to my meeting. Afterwards, I picked up Jeanie and we headed to the doctor’s office. They were beside themselves with worry by the time we arrived causing us to wonder if they’d ever done this before <just kidding>…<sort of>. By the time we had gotten to the hospital we found out that Jeanie’s dad, Vic, had canceled the classes he was teaching, come to the hospital, waited and left! Everyone was in a panic except Jeanie, Jim and (soon to be) Erin. Needless to say, Erin was born later.
She was a dissatisfied little girl. She wanted to do what her sisters were doing and was not happy to be younger and less able. Maybe that drive helped her to achieve so much. I remember watching her play with wooden blocks and legos. She would make bridges and it seemed to me that she had an innate understanding of what it took to make them strong. Maybe it’s just because I was her dad, but I was impressed.
When she was about the age she was in the photo above, Erin loved to hang out around me in the morning to watch me shave. I would scoop off a dab of shaving cream and put it on her cheek, which pleased her to no end! She’d run off through the house squealing with delight. I do miss those little slices of life.
She shares my love of astronomy. When she was in high school, she did a project with the head of the Physics dept at the College of Charleston. If I remember correctly, her project was to map the moons of Jupiter. It required the use of my telescope, which is rather cumbersome to move around. Since I was commuting from Charleston to Charlotte to work that year, I wasn’t around during the week to help her set it up. I wanted so much to be around to help her with it, but I taught her how to setup the telescope and she did it all by herself. I guess that’s the part of letting go that’s hard for a dad… but it’s good. She and Justin just returned from a vacation in Hawaii where they got to see the big telescopes. When she told me how cool it was, I was so jealous.
One night when she was 16 years old, she asked me to tuck her into bed and tell her a story. I guess she was feeling nostalgic for when she was little. No matter what the reason, I was happy to relive some of those fun memories of the tucking in ritual. That night, I made up a bedtime story on the spot, just like the old days. The next night she repeated the same request, “tell me a story and tuck me in.” This continued for a week or more until one fateful night. As much as I loved the attention and getting special time with her, I asked if I could just read something since I just didn’t have the energy to make up a story. She agreed.
I looked on her bookshelf and saw The Hobbit. I asked her if she had ever read it. She hadn’t. So we started reading it. We continued every night until we finished it weeks later. At the end of The Hobbit, we continued with the Lord of the Rings. We were almost done with the first of the three books when Peter Jackson announced his epic project to bring the Lord of the Rings to the big screen. Needless to say, we were beside ourselves.
In her senior year of high school, she won an award for playing the part of Gollum in the school theater department’s production of The Hobbit. (The photo is of her with her award beside herself in costume). She looked really creepy. When the Lord of the Rings movies came out, the two of us went in costume! (Hers was way cooler than mine).
Erin has always had a sensitive heart. I can remember once when Erin was a teenager, I was in a bad mood and snapped at Jeanie. Erin said in a matter-of-fact way that what I said was mean. I immediately knew that she had nailed me, but she made it easy for me to acknowledge what I did because she was so respectful in the way she said it. Now that she’s in grad school at Berkeley, she focuses a lot of her energy into getting girls interested in science. She’s passionate about bringing a better representation from the “other half” of the population into the scientific community. I think that is so cool.
Erin, you are so easy to love. I am so very glad that I get to be your dad. Have a very happy birthday. I love you.
P. S. This is a video Erin made recently with her new ukulele from Hawaii. Be sure and watch until the end… it’s special.