Today is Estie’s 22nd birthday. In 1986, Karen and I were in a Charlottesville park at a cookout with our business school friends. Karen is a small-framed woman and was more than ready for the pregnancy to be over. It was a great cause for celebration when we abruptly left the park and sped to the hospital.
Estie has always been our most “girly girl.” Even at age two she loved to dress up like a princess and twirl around glamorously. She was also our most organized child. We were reminiscing last night about how she was so delighted to receive a toy cash register as a gift. She spent hours pretending to run stores of various sorts. I used to give her my old checks – that felt very official too.
Then one day she proclaimed, “Daddy, I need a desk!” You’d have thought she was going to secretarial school right then and there. She kept harping on this theme until we found one at some garage sale and presented it to her. Oh the joy of that moment – her very own desk! From there she could organize the chaos of the Barnes household.
Marriage became another theme for Estie very early in life. She was about four when she came to Karen and asked, “Mommy, who am I going to marry?”
“Well, there’s always Connor,” Karen responded, referring to the little neighbor boy.
“That’s just the problem!” Estie responded emphatically. “He doesn’t want to marry me!”
Estie is one who knows how to commemorate the passage of time. She loves to watch our old family movies. She chronicles the best stories and even remembers all the pets that have passed through the Barnes family – hamsters, fish, ducks, cats, dogs, bunny rabbits, goats, and chickens. All of them now passed on to animal heaven, but remembered by their owner.
Estie has also succeeded where I failed. My father always wanted me to be a doctor. After I disappointed him with my total lack of medical aptitude, the search was on for someone else in the family who might go into medicine. Estie is the only one who responded as hoped. We knew it was serious about ten years ago when Abby cornered and killed a marauding groundhog. Estie, quickly donned goggles, rubber gloves, and an apron – ready to perform her first autopsy. But then as she prepared to cut into the dead rodent, her girlish squeamishness overwhelmed her natural surgeon’s bravado. “Maybe we better leave him alone.” She said.
Now that Estie has grown and left the house, she’s gone on to nursing school in Indiana. She’s established a life for herself there with many friends. She loves people of all sorts, especially babies and orphans. Every time I send my kiddos pictures of some orphan, she’s quick to proclaim, “Oh daddy, can’t we adopt her?” She has spent half a year in Kenya and even longer in Mexico carrying for orphans and street children. While in Kenya she had a little gang of them she called “my posse.” They referred to her as “Momma Esta” and for a long time after she left they kept asking, “When is Esta coming back?”
What a light in our lives Estie is! There is so much more I could write about her. She brightens the lives of so many.
This is your special day, Estie – Happy Birthday!