The ball was wonderful and seemed to go all night. After our introduction we glided around the dance floor for a while before my daughter surprised us. She grabbed the microphone from the DeeJay and smiled at everyone.
"Ladies and gentleman, could I please have your attention." She waited a moment for the crowd to quiet. "First off I would like to thank everyone for coming and making our birthday s special. This will be a day my brother and I will never forget. Second I would like to thank my Mom and Dad for everything they have done for us. It hasn't been easy these last few years for us, but no matter what we have always prevailed. They have made us stronger people and we couldn't thank them enough. I know it is our birthday, but we would like to give them each a gift that means so much to us." She looked over at Marek and nodded. He stepped up to the Microphone.
"Mom, I would like to give you a copy of my dogtags. Something to keep close to your heart while I am away fighting for our country. I know you are worried about me doing this, so I hope it eases your mind to have them with you." He stepped forward and handed me a box.
I opened it up to see gold encrusted dog tags, an exact match to those he would get after he finished his training. I felt my eyes go misty as I hugged him tightly to me. He whispered quietly in my ear. "More and more each day Momma."
I nodded my head as he hugged me tighter for a moment before letting me go. He walked back over to his sister and handed her the microphone again.
"Dad, you haven't been in our lives long, but each moment that you have given us has been the best of our lives. You have completed the hole in us that was there. Momma did a great job playing both parents, but your love and devotion to us through everything has made a huge impact on our lives. To you I give something so special, to some it may seem like just a picture, but to us it is a memory of all of the hard work we have put in to make our dreams a reality."
She looked over at Russel and nodded. He moved off the dance floor and came back with a large portrait of our family in front of the newly expanded farm. It was a beautiful black and white portrait that showed so much more than a tired family dirty from head to toe. It showed the devotion of a family that worked together to pull a dream from nothing.
Kie moved forward and hugged her tightly. She hugged him back and started to cry. He held her to him and whispered in her ear. "I will always treasure this no matter where we go." She nodded and moved back wiping her eyes.
She nodded her head over and over again as she moved to stand with her brother. He held her for a moment before he took the microphone from her. The look in his eyes was amazing, so strong and vibrant as he talked. I marveled at the man my son had become.
I stepped forward and hugged my son close as I enfolded my daughter in a hug. I held them tightly as Kie came and took the mic from them.
He looked around at the group of friends or family that surrounded us and smiled. "Thank you everyone for your generocity of coming out today to spend this wonderful day with us. It isn't every day that the children you love so much grow up in front of your eyes and turn into such wonderful adults. Today we give them not just the recognition, but the praise they deserve for taking what he taught them and turning it into things they will use everyday in life. With that in mind your mother and I have some gifts for you. Marek come here please."
My son untangled me from him and stepped over to the only father he had ever known. "My son, you have been strong and steadfast in the protection of your sister and everything you hold dear. It is with that in mind that we give you these gifts. Ava came over with a case as Alex drove the car closer to the stage. Everyone awwed as they saw the beautiful car. Marek opened the case first and smiled. A miltary grade computer was something he wanted so he could video conference with us while he was away. Kie led him over to the car and Marek jumped up and down. Alex moved to hand him the keys which made my son even more happy.
The only sound heard was the sound of my son screaming "Thank you" over and over again. I looked over at Mari who was smiling and laughing at the outburst of her reserved brother. I looked at Kie and smiled. He came over to me, hugged Mari and handed me the microphone. I looked at Mari and smiled.
"Don't think that we left you out baby girl. You have been such a gift to everyone that you come in contact with. You bring light and brightness into everyone's lives. You have been strong and rough, but the kindness that eminates from your heart is more than any mother could ask for. It is with that in mind that we give you your own type of freedom." I handed her a box. "Inside is something that I knew would mean the world to you."
She opened it up to see a Fire Opal ring. Her breath caught in her throat as her arms went around me. I smiled at her, and hugged her tightly. "Read the inscription my dear."
I handed her the mic as she took the ring out of the box and read it. "With a beautiful heart and a strength that rivals the gods." The tears in her eyes said it all. I hugged her tightly and smiled.
"I am not done with you yet my dear." The roar of an engine drowned out her wondering question and her hands went to her mouth. "You are the embodyment of freedom daughter of mine and with that you need to have your own car to let you feel that feeling." Alex drove her car over and handed her the keys as she rushed past him to her gift. She put her hand on the car in a loving gesture before she ran over to Kie and engulfed him in a hug.
"Daddy thank you. Thank you so much." The tears in her eyes fell slowly down her face. Kie wiped them away and hugged her close.
"My dear you are more than welcome." He nodded to me and I looked around at the crowd.
"You guys have been wonderful to us. Our time here in Oregon has been wonderful, but it is with a heavy heart that I say that we are going to be leaving. Our children are moving across the country and we decided to go too. You have always been a community of family and you welcomed us with open arms. I am had because I am going to miss you all, but it is time. Time for us to move on out of our comfort zone and into a new part of our lives. As soon as the school year is over, we will be moving to North Carolina and starting a new. Thank you everyone for your kindness and generocity, for the sense of belonging and family that you gave us when we first got here. So now I raise my glass to all of you, to the love and kindness that helped a single mother of two children to thrive and grow."
Murmurs surrounded me as I smiled and sipped my drink. Kie came over and held me tightly before taking the mic and smiling. "Everyone enjoy the rest of your night."
Everyone moved out of the group while Marek and Mari came over to us. Russel appeared behind Mari and tapped her on the shoulder. She turned around and smiled at him.
He grasped her hand and looked deep into her eyes. "Mari, thank you so much for these past years. You have been such a dream to me, but it is time for us both to move on. You are going to NC and I am staying here. You deserve someone that is willing to follow you where ever you want to go. I can't do it, my life was and always is here. I thought about it long and hard after you told me you were leaving. I am so sorry Mari, I know this is supposed to be a night of joy for you and I am so sorry to hurt you."
She shook her head. " No Russel. I knew for a while that it was going to happen. I think you are right, though. Our lives are going seperate ways and we need to find those people that will be what we need. You need someone that will make a life for you hear. Me, well I want to see the world and be near my brother. Thank you Russel, for everything."
Mari's Dress Mari's Car