In Celebration Of My Daughter’s Birthday
Recalling her Easter Sunday debut in 1986
By Ed Goldman
I realize today isn’t also Easter but I’m blameless. Easter just happens to be one of the world’s more mobile holidays. This year, for example, it won’t show up until April 17, two days after our federal income taxes would have been due. But since that’s the same day as Good Friday, I’m guessing that the IRS deadline will be somewhat in flux.
Joshua and Jessica Laskey
(And wouldn’t it be nice if Flux were a small town near Communicado, a few blocks from Cognito and down the road from one called Wedlock? Ergo: You could tell people whom you didn’t wish to see that you’d be in Flux, in Communicado or in Cognito and, to really shock them, you could claim you planned to be borne out of Wedlock later that week. But I digress.)
My daughter’s arrival was delayed by her Mom’s 27 hours of labor and, prior to that, her nearly eight years of indecision about even wanting to be a mom. Her own mother, who lived into her 90s on a diet of daily greens and bitterness, had told her daughter from very early on that she’d been an “accident.” As Jane grew into adulthood, I’m not sure she ever stopped internalizing that most blasphemous of declarations. In fact, I’d eventually learn that this—coupled with her mother’s growling insensitivity—was why Jane was so hesitant to ever become a parent. She told me she was afraid she’d turn out to be her mother.
But after our daughter was born, Jane was the mirror and psychic opposite of her dyspeptic parent. Kind, affectionate and playful, her warmth and artistry attracted Jessica’s friends to our successive homes because they always knew they’d get fed (that was my job) and do a take-away crafts project (Jane’s).
For various reasons—including a miscarriage several years before and another one a year after Jessica’s debut—our daughter grew up as an only child. She reassured us that she preferred things that way, especially when she’d return from an “overnight” at another family’s home and having watched siblings, and sometimes parents, bicker non-stop.
But I wonder.
If she’d had a brother or sister when her Mom fell ill—Jessica was only 12 years old—she’d at least have had a confidante and peer during the subsequent nine years of Jane’s stoical struggle. And when Jane died—Jessica was now two months shy of her 21st birthday—she’d have been able to grieve with a brother or sister rather than watch her father, in order, go numb, suicidal, addled, and then into a series of ill-chosen and ill-fated relationships until 14 months ago, when I fell heart over heels with the woman I coyly refer to as my OSSA (oh-so-significant-other) in these columns.
My daughter was married on 9/10/11 in the backyard of the budget-busting home her Mom and I had bought in 1997. Situated in a section of East Sacramento dubbed the “Fab’ 40s” by some people who go around dubbing things (we have to find and stop them), it had five bedrooms, three-and-a-half bathrooms, four stories and 4,800 square feet.
But Jessica never much liked it. She always missed our former home, a 1,400-square-foot house we’d bought from Jean Runyon, the late public relations executive known and beloved throughout California. It was compact, cozy and her parents’ room was just a few feet from hers. Jessica had spent her first almost-11 years there.
I mention “almost-11” because she woke up for the first time in our new house on her 11th birthday. This, too, was Easter Sunday. And according to the well-named answers.com website, the holiday will come out on her birthday again in 2059, 2070 and 2081, when, according to actuarial tables I’ll be 109, 120 and 131 years old, respectively. Provided I introduce more fiber into my diet.
In the years following her Mom’s passing, my daughter has become—under her married name, Jessica Laskey—a prolific writer and editor, a professional singer-dancer-actor-director, a publisher, a visual artist and, when she lived in Sacramento, an on-air talent at the local PBS affiliate. She’s combined as many careers in her life as her Mom did and I continue to attempt to do. I think because she grew up with two people who didn’t leave home for offices every morning (except for very brief aberrations), she learned that the discipline of working in one’s own space is natural.
I hope she continues to feel that way as more birthdays roll her way. And to know she’s as loved today as she was that very first Easter Sunday of her precious, precious life.
A Weekly Blog by Virginia Varela
President, Golden Pacific Bank, a Division of SoFi Bank, Inc.
photo by Phoebe Verkouw
A TRUE LEADER AT A TRAGIC TIME
What constitutes effective leadership? It is the ability to influence or guide others. And Ukrainian President Volodymyr Oleksandrovych Zelenskyy—a politician, former actor and comedian, who grew up in Kryvyi Rih, a major city of Dnipropetrovsk Oblast in central Ukraine—is today’s answer to a person who, in our lifetime, that exemplifies not only effective leadership (in spades) but also what Ernest Hemingway called grace under pressure.
Months ago, many barely recognized him. Today, he holds the world’s attention. We all can even pronounce his name.
Zelenskyy is the leader of a country fighting with every confidence that it will win. His words and actions lead people to fight for their land and country, to fight to the risk of death.
Zelenskyy is mesmerizing. He is a man of the people.
I wondered until recently why Zelenskyy wore a simple green T shirt while addressing national forums so I researched the answer. Per Google: “A true leader is one who can connect with those who follow him or her.” Zelenskyy sports a simple green t-shirt in solidarity with his fellow soldiers who are risking their lives to protect and defend the Ukrainian way of life.
God Bless you Ukraine—and thank you, President Zelenskyy, for exhibiting true and unwavering leadership not only to your troops, to the Ukrainians, but also to the entire world. We are all draped in blue and gold in honor of you, in honor of transformational leadership, and in honor of Ukraine. May you rise to success and rebuild your beautiful homeland.