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”.