August 21, 2016

Chapter One for Twinkle

I was never an orphan, but when I was fifteen year’s old I clearly needed to be adopted. I was a shy awkward kid who wanted to be accepted, loved and noticed. I had spent most of middle school on the periphery of a Marin world I didn’t really understand, and to tell the truth I didn’t really understand what it meant to be an American. I was an only child in an household filled with love, but also many silences and empty spaces. I needed more family than our three-member unit was providing.

It was summer before sophomore year and I had started hanging out with a little freckled kid named Anthony. Even now thirty years later, I can’t recall what brought us together, but we used to ride our bikes to Derek Thornhill's house to play football. This was a new world of mansions and country clubs for me. After several visits to the Thornhill place, we started going up to Margarita Drive to Jason’s house. We played hoops. Swam in the pool. Built friendships that would last for decades.

But this is not a post about friendship, it is a story about family. As soon as it became apparent that our visits were becoming more and more regular, often turning into weekend long sleep-overs, I was adopted by the Dohertys, and no one was more accepting, generous, hospitable and loving that Jason’s mom Karen “Twinkle” Doherty.

Twinkle passed away this weekend, and many of you have been so kind as to ask about the allusions I have been making to a special person in my life who has been suffering. Karen was like a mother to me. I often said that she was my second mom. From those early days of making us breakfast, making sure we were safe and making us laugh with her infectious and highly inappropriate sense of humour, to the last time I saw her looking weak and frail in the hospital, Karen has been a constant source of light in my life.

In life Karen was the most beautiful woman I have ever known. Her kindness and ability to transmit joy to everyone around her, were only surpassed by her unflagging strength and selflessness. She was a mother to all, not just me. She was a true matriarch. I have countless stories to share about her love of life and her ability to overcome obstacles, each one bringing me to tears at odd parts of my day, so I cannot write them all tonight.

I just needed this first post to announce her passing and make it real. To open the first chapter, so as to let the healing, grieving, honouring and celebrating to begin. At first I was nervous to write these words or even mentioned her name at all, because this is not my story alone to tell, but as I mentioned above, she adopted me and made me feel part of her beautiful and complex family. She gave me Christmas and Thanksgiving. Sunday night football. Nieces and Nephews. She gave me full access to her son and her family and their home and her heart. And for all of this I will be eternally grateful.

By being my mother and mentor and guide and role model, she has shaped who I am more than any other person in my life. I will miss her so much and it is simply too soon to understand what her loss will mean to my life, our family and the hundreds of lives she touched throughout her life. There is so much more to say, but tonight is not the time.

All I needed to say tonight was, "We miss you already Twink. I love you so much and thank you. I hope you are free of pain and resting. I will always carry you in my heart. I like you there to keep me balanced.

1 comment:

  1. X a beautiful post J! I'm sure her heart was full of pride for you. Much love and comfort from down under, JJ @7mrsjames