Happy Heavenly Birthday, Uncle Vic

In 2016 I was reunited with my biological family.  Thanks to the magic of Ancestry and their gifted staff researchers.   I found out that my original birth name was Tracy Dawn Marchand.  I also found out sadly that my Mother passed in 2010,  but her 3 siblings were still alive and pretty close by.  Aunt Jeanne in Pennsylvania, Aunt Martha in Strasburg, Virginia and Uncle Victor Marchand in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.   Since that summer in 2016, I’ve spent as much time as I could getting to know everyone. My family has grown by many!  It turns out that Uncle Vic was the closest in proximity.  Living only 20 minutes from me.  I moved to Loudoun County in 1999, to marry my Steve.  During our 21 years together, we migrated each home farther West, from Leesburg to Hamilton and now reside in Purcellville.  It’s literally a 20 minute ride to Vic’s house from ours. Our first meeting with my biological Mother’s siblings was at Vic’s house. We were invited for lunch.   Martha, Vic, his husband John, Steve and my Mom Pat all met for the first time on a hot and humid day in July 2016.  Vic’s home is on the side of a mountain in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia.  His house looks like something right out of a story book.

“High Walden”.  The cabin is a 100 year old log home with white chinking, a stone fireplace and a welcoming front porch.  The house is surrounded by lush gardens, trees, bushes, flowers and about 100 humming birds buzzing around the feeders hanging from the porch.  There was a large tent setup with table and chairs outside where we sat and ate. He’d made “Red Devils” for us for lunch.  Then, he and John took us to “the bar” which was an adorable Amish shed. Once you opened the doors there was literally a fully stocked bar along with a couch, bar and bar stools. We toured the property and met the chickens and a few other critters along the way, then to the pool.  Cool and inviting with sparkling blue water, colorful umbrellas and flamingo floats in the water. It was a perfect little oasis set behind the house.   I was so nervous to meet him, but when I looked into Vic’s eyes the first time,  I saw something of myself.  For the first time in my life, I saw someone staring back who looked like me!  We have the same eyes.   I learned that Vic was an easy going, artistic, charmingly eccentric fellow with a magnetic personality. I was instantly amazed by him and loved listening to his stories. Mostly hilarious and outrageous. He loved to laugh and to have others laughing with him.

Sadly, he was taken from this world in January 2019 by lung cancer.  It came on so fast he was gone within months of the diagnosis. Things I learned about Vic during our time together and from family: He was in the Air Force and worked as a plane mechanic. He was a draftsman at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD. He was a gifted artist who painted the mural at the Bell Grove Plantation in Winchester. He drew the card above and sent hand drawn holiday cards to us.  Vic was a Master Chef at The Purcellville Inn (many years ago) when it was owned by his great aunt (Irene Marchand).  Now, you would know it as the West End Wine Bar in Purcellville VA. Small coincidence (or not) that we now live within walking distance to the West End Wine Bar. I may not have even been born when he was working there it was so very long ago.  Uncle Victor was an entertainer and professional ball room dancer.  He spent months as staff aboard cruise ships, where he traveled the world.  He was also a Master Gardener as evidence by the incredible gardens we enjoyed at his home when we visited.  There was not enough time, but what we had was a gift.  I would not trade it for anything.

Yesterday was his birthday. He would have been 79 years old.  I took a moment to stay a prayer, lift a glass and cheer him on his day, now a heavenly birthday.  “Having only just found you, now we say goodbye…until we meet again sweet Vic”.

After Christmas visit 2019

This year, all of our family gathered in between the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.  On Thursday 12/26, Nil arrived!

We had a fantastic visit. Dinner the first night with our friends at the club. Plenty of laughing and stories.  On Saturday we went to a few stores and stopped for lunch in Leesburg then by one of Vino 9 in Waterford for some local IPA beer. Nil enjoyed that last year so we kind of make it a ritual now.  We visited with the owners of Vino 9 who are very knowledgeable about the beers and directed him on what to buy to take home for the boys.  During the day’s discussion, somehow Nil got roped into helping me put our TV on the wall with a mount and a shelf underneath for the cable box.   Back to Best buy to get the needed items. On Sunday we started early putting things together and a few more trips to the hardware store, Luckily Nil “got skills”. He’s a builder by trade and very mechanically inclined.  I must have gotten a little of that and patience for tedious tasks from him. We had a wonderful time even with the un-ending things that kept going wrong he just kept plugging away with a smile.  We finally got it the TV up on the wall and the shelf mounted underneath.  It was exhausting but we finished the project!

On Sunday, Nil headed home in the morning. About an hour and a half later,  Kelly and her Dad Bob Bresnock and husband Terry arrived from PA to visit with us. Morgan and Garrett were coming from New Jersey and got stuck in traffic but they finally got here late day.  We had plenty of food here ready to go but of course, Kelly brought cheese and cracker plates and lots of amazing cookies and candies she made. Kelly is a chef by trade and she loves to do baked goods!  My family came by too- Mom, Don, Deena, Rodney and Luke.  Steve’s Mom Pat came by with more wonderful baked goods! It was a great day of sharing stories and enjoying each other’s company. Here are a few pics from the day!  Until we see each other again, I love you all!

   

 

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Meet my brother, Doug!

In early 2016, I found my biological family.  On my Mother’s side (Linda Marchand, deceased 2010), I got to meet my Mother’s siblings: Aunt Martha, Uncle Vic and Aunt Jeanne.  Linda has two children, Kelly and Doug. Kelly and I connected right away but Doug and his wife, Amy are not on any social media. Doug learned about me from his Dad, Bob Bresnock.  Doug and I texted for the first time early this year.  We later got on a phone call with Doug, Amy, me and Steve all talking and getting to know each other. Turns out we have alot in common. Doug and Amy are both avid golfers. They live in Home, PA near his sister Kelly and Father, Bob.  Doug and Amy have two children, Alyson and Griffin.DougVisit

We made a plan for them to swing by Virginia on their way to the beach in late summer.  As the day approached I was really nervous but excited to finally meet my half brother on my Mother’s side!  Doug and Amy were so warm and funny. We immediately started chatting and laughing at the same silly jokes.  Alyson, my Niece is an amazing young woman who joined right in with our goofy dialog. Griffin was quiet but most entertained by Maurice. Both were inside and outside most of the visit checking out the yard and critters.  It was a very short visit but I’m so happy to have had the chance to meet my family.  We are in contact and always a stop on the way for anyone passing though Virginia!

Morgan came to town!

A few weekends ago, my niece, Morgan and her friend Garrett were nearby for a wedding. They were able to stop by and see us on the way back to New Jersey!!  Morgan is Kelly’s only daughter.  We really enjoy spending time with these two amazing and hardworking kids. They were here for a few hours where we caught up on the day to day and they did some bird watching from our large picture window. Morgan had never seen as many red cardinals in one place as that tree. We love to watch all of the birds so we have several feeders. Maurice also got plenty of love and Pepper and Tegan were very well behaved too.  I hope to get another visit soon!IMG_1243

It’s been a while….

It’s been almost a year since I last posted an update to the blog.  Lots has occurred. Sadly, last Fall, Aunt Jeanne lost her battle with breast cancer.  It was so sad to have only just found my family, only to lose her 2 years later.  I am blessed that we had time to spend together and get to know each other. There is never going to be enough time so we do the very best that we can.  I’m posting this picture here, in honor of Jeanne. We had one heck of a day that day and the smiles are genuine and the laughter, heartfelt.

Aunts&Uncles

Summer Fun Family Time

This weekend was another great gathering of Marchand, Guillet and Lynn families.  Aunt Martha Marchand celebrated her 70th birthday party at the river in Staunton. We’ve been looking forward to the party for weeks!  Luckily, the party weekend lined up nicely with a visit from my Father, Nil. Nil and his sister (Aunt Gloria) drove in from Connecticut on a sunny and bright Friday the 13th of July.  Almost a year from when this all began and we all met for the very first time!  Gloria was meeting Martha in Winchester and staying over there for the weekend, so Nil dropped her off there and then headed another 25 minutes East to Purcellville for our weekend visit.

Friday night, we took Nil to Charlestown Races for dinner and horse races! He was very surprised and delighted. We had an awesome time catching up over dinner while the ponies ran!  We could not pick a winner between the 3 of us so we gave up and went home around 10.

Saturday morning we ran a few errands and I took Nil to see Steve’s folks for a few minutes.  I also introduced him to Nichol’s Hardware. A true destination in Loudoun County. It was hard to get him out of there!  At noon we went to the party about 45 minutes away in Staunton at the pavillion on the river. What a great turnout Aunt Martha had!  My Mom Pat, sister, Deena and great nephew Luke were invited too. It was the first time I’d seen Jeanne, Cecil, Vic and John since Christmas.

In March, we moved from our historic home in Hamilton to a “newer” 1989 built home on the golf course in Purcellville.  That, on top of an extremely busy work schedule,  has kept us hopping. At the party,  I caught up with new friends and family and we all enjoyed watching the kids running around having a ball.

Nil and I headed home before dark where we caught up with Steve. We visited for a few hours sitting on the deck watching the fireflies.  We had a great time catching up. Nil was very helpful with a few minor household projects. Some we completed others we did not (needed more parts!)  What a great weekend.  In the last year, my family has tripled in volume,  but it’s a great, warm feeling that everyone gets along and includes each other on the gatherings. I could not ask for a better outcome or response from such loving, wonderful and caring people. All of them…my family.

Until we all meet again!

Happy Anniversary!

Many wonderful anniversaries to celebrate in June.

On June 5th, 1999, I married my soul mate, Steve Gaitten. We celebrated our 19th year of marriage this year. We are having the time of our lives!

On June 22, 2017 , I got “the call” from my Aunt Martha. You know, the one where she said- “hello, Kelly. You were born 9/27/1966 and you have a heart murmur. We’ve been looking for you”. A year ago this week I began connecting with my biological family. First, with contact through my Aunt Martha, My Aunt Jeanne and my Uncle Victor. My Mother’s brothers and sisters all gathered around me and made feel most welcome. They had been searching for me but under the name Tracy Dawn Marchand. They did not know I was named Kelly Louise by my loving Mother and Father who adopted me.  Kelly Louise Lynn (now Gaitten), These are the only names I’ve ever known.

Martha, Jeanne, Me on the first row, John, Steve and Vic on second row
Me and my biological Dad- Nil Guillet!! I was his birthday surprise last year!
My half brothers, Ryan and Cory!

 

 

This blog is named for Kelly, my half sister who is 4 years younger.  Also, it’s to celebrate each and every family member I’ve found- who shares my DNA and all of my family who love me but do not share my DNA.  Family, what a gift!

This post is to also to acknowledge and celebrate a year of connecting with my new family. My Father, Nil, my brothers, Ryan and Cory and their amazing wives Kristen and Brittany and all of their beautiful children.  To having found my new Nieces and Nephews and Aunts and Uncles!

Kelly Louise and Kelly Marie!

My sister Kelly, my Niece Morgan and Kelly’s husband, Terry and her Father, Bob.  I love you all. I could not imagine how I would feel on the day I found you, but today the joy is still overwhelming in my heart. I am the luckiest girl in the world. Not only because I found you but because my family immediately grew bigger and better than ever before. Every day I learn something new, every day, I appreciate my life and all I’ve been blessed with. Looking back so far…it’s been an amazing journey. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings. Happy Anniversary, indeed.

Father’s Day

So many months have passed since I wrote an update! Many things have happened. All good! We sold our lovely Victorian home in Hamilton and moved 6 miles West to Purcellville in March. Our new house was built in 1989, it’s not new but it’s new to us after living in a 150 year old home.  For us, it’s like living in a 5 star hotel.  We miss our old home but we LOVE our new one!!  On top of an already busy real estate season, we added a move.  Somehow, we got it all done. My Mom and sister were a huge help. I could not have done it without them. I worked every single day with appointments and clients. I only really took one day off (move day) and then got right back to work. My Mom and sister unpacked most of our boxes and stocked and organized my closet for me while I was out with clients.  I could find all of my clothes and shoes!!  Then, within a week of moving into our new home, we had the interior painted, a fence put up for the dogs and a shed installed. It’s literally been a whirlwind. Did I mention this has been the busiest Spring market…ever? We hope to have an open house and invite all of the family and friends very soon.

The new house “Peppie’s Place on Pinehurst”

We had a cookout for Mother’s day but it rained. It’s been a wet Spring that has rolled into the first week of summer. Sigh….

This year, Father’s day snuck right up on me. I’ve been in contact with all of my newly found family as much as I can. With this schedule I don’t have time to go anywhere. We cancelled our vacation in February and have been running flat out ever since!

I text or talk with Kelly now every week or so- she’s really busy too, but we reach out when we have a moment. I try to call Nil weekly. I email regularly with Aunt Martha. I text, email or Facebook with Jeanne and Vic. I miss everyone!

Nil was planning to visit us in June but schedules are not aligning.  I was able to call and visit with him on the phone on Sunday to wish him a Happy Father’s Day. A first for both of us. He was at Ryan’s house with all of the family in Connecticut. We had a great conversation and put out some dates for a visit. He has not seen the new house yet. It has an amazing and deck overlooking the golf course! He’s going to love it.  We hope to see him in early July. The guest room is all ready!

More updates soon, I promise!

 

 

Christmas Time is Here- Come meet the family!

On December 23, 2017 the Gaitten, Lynn, Guillet and Marchand families came together. About 30 people were here at our house in Hamilton. We had the party during the day and it was unusually warm but overcast for December. That day was about 53 degrees. Nil drove down from Connecticut on Friday and stayed the weekend.

 

This photo was taken while we were visiting on Friday night getting ready for dinner!

From the “new” side of the family, my Father, Nil was in attendance representing the Guillet side.  (From the Marchand side, my sister, Kelly and her daughter Morgan and Kelly’s Father, Bob were going to surprise us. Steve knew about it but I didn’t. However, Morgan got sick with the flu so they did not end up driving down from PA and we missed them!)

In attendance from the Marchand side: Aunt Martha, Uncle Victor, Uncle John, Aunt Jeanne, along with cousin Mark, his wife Jennifer and their daughter, Marianna (my 2nd cousin).

My Mom (Pat), sister (Deena), nephew (Donald), niece (Casie), great nephew (Luke) and my brother in law (Rodney) were here plus Steve’s Mom (Pat), Father (Don), Sister (Christy), Brother in law (Cian), niece (Maggie), nephew (Jacob) were all in attendance. A few very close friends who are truly family were also here – Rose, Jasmine and Cody. My brother Ed was sick and Don Langley was home with new puppy- they could not attend and were sorely missed!

On Saturday around 11 am the family started to arrive! The idea was to spend quality time together. Some of my family has met my “new” family, some had not.  Nil had grown up around the corner from my biological Mother, Linda’s house so he knew her brother and sisters but they did not know each other well. Aunt Martha and Nil spent an hour chatting about who old friends and the old neighborhood. It turns out that they still know several of the same people. Martha said he always loved cars and could see that he still does today. He’s a fierce Ford guy!

We feasted on turkey, ham and a bounty of dishes everyone brought. The dining room table and side tables were overflowing with goodies. We setup drinks on the porch. Steve was in charge of fun and games in the upstairs of the barn.

There was quite a ping pong match between Steve, Jacob, Christy and Cian. Every time we have a family gathering they must play for the imaginary trophy and bragging rights. We had Jenga setup inside and Aunt Jeanne brought a fun game that had us all laughing. I don’t even know what it is called. She wrapped up a bunch of goodies in saran wrap until it was a huge ball that was passed around while throwing dice and quick timing. It kept us all giggling. I painted ornaments for everyone as a keepsake. Some were better than others. They all went so that made me happy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is no greater gift than family.  There is no greater gift than time together. This gathering meant the world to me!

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas. My blessings and wishes for a happy and healthy 2018 to all!

 

Meeting Cousin Denise

In early November, I got to meet my Father’s Brother’s oldest daughter….Cousin Denise! Denise lives in Florida and was ooming to Virginia to vacation about an hour from me. The best place to meet in the middle was my hometown of Occoquan. We settled in on Madigans by the water for our lunch spot. When I got there, Denise was already inside- in the bar looking for the Florida Gator’s Football game on the big screen and chatting up the bar tenders.   Denise and I were immediately comfortable and chatty with each other.  We shared all sorts of childhood stories and details. Turns out that we are in fact, very similar. She’s slightly older and she confessed she hoped she would remain in the family spot! I have no problem with that.  I enjoyed seeing many of her traits in myself. She’s bubbly and draws you right into the conversation and she’s hilarious and witty.

Denise and I also follow fairly strict diets.  I’m sugar/carb free which also knocks out gluten too. She’s gluten and dairy free. Both of us do this for health reasons and we find that we see great improvement in joint inflammation and stomach distress when we stick to proper meal planning.  We enjoyed salads and seafood. My kind of gal!!!  Denise tried the crab soup too. I didn’t it had a flour base but smelled delicious!  We have so many things in common. It was fascinating to compare how two people who grew up so differently to be so similar. I guess that’s DNA for you.   I hope to see her again soon!