“Before she passed, she told my dad that she wanted him to fall in love again. ‘I’m going to find you the perfect woman,’ she said. ‘She’s going to love my daughters. And most importantly she’ll be a snow bunny.’ That was always the joke between them.
Dad was a cross country skier so he loved the snow, but Mom was the opposite. Her dream was to move to Florida, so she covered our house in dolphins and palm trees. I was thirteen when she lost her battle to cancer, and I think I’ve blacked a lot of it out.
But I remember Dad put up a good front. He was raising two girls on his own, but he never missed a recital or practice. He cooked all the same meals that Mom cooked. And kept all of her holiday traditions.
He didn’t date again for more than a year, when he was introduced to Tracy by his friends in the ski community. Tracy was a serious skier. She’d won the Michigan Cup nine times. But most importantly she was also a widow.
Her husband had passed away around the same time as my mom. When they had their first date, Tracy and my dad reserved a table for four– in honor of their spouses. At first I wasn’t thrilled to see him dating again. But even my fourteen-year-old brain could see that he was happier.
He was smiling more, and singing again. And Tracy was so gracious. She understood grief so she did everything right. She always asked about our mom. She honored all of her birthdays and death dates.
She never tried to erase her memory. When we moved in together, Tracy decorated the house with things that my mother loved. She hung up old family photos.
Both my mother and Tracy were crazy about holidays, so we got two trees every Christmas: one for Tracy’s collection of ornaments, and one for my mother’s. Three years ago Tracy finally married my dad. Those two stinkers had been engaged for nine years, but they finally did it.
And the next year Tracy officially adopted us. It was a beautiful ceremony. We did it right before Christmas so we could celebrate over the holidays. Tracy held it together the entire time.
But at one point the judge said: ‘In the eyes of the law, it will be as if you gave birth to these children.’ And that’s when she started sobbing with joy.”
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