|The man of the hour, my father -- Donald Siplon-- at his 80th birthday party. I find it slightly disconcerting that I have about the same amount of gray hair that he does.|
|After the party --back row: Brian, Katrinka, Susan, me and Rick; front row: Mom, Dad, Tigist, Emma, Jim, Grace, Daisy, Donna, Alex and Jean|
We kids have definitely scattered. I live in Vermont, my older brother Jim and his family live in North Carolina, my sister Katrinka and her family live in Tacoma, Washington, and youngest sister, Donna and her family are the sole Michigander group among the siblings. Then there is my "other brother", Jean, or as my sister Katrinka puts it, "Don's oldest son, but not his first". Jean is French, and joined our family in 1973 in his first visit as a teenage french exchange student when Katrinka, Jim and I were in elementary school (and Donna was not yet born). He's now a doctor with three kids of his own, and has been back countless times. He has also hosted various family members as well as sending his own kids to stay with members of our family over the years. He came with his girlfriend Mary from France for the occasion, since, obviously, a family party would not be complete without him.
|All my dad's kids back home after the party: me, Katrinka, Donna, Jim and Jean|
|My Dad saying a few words after everyone else has had their turn, while my mom and the kids look on|
Back at home that night we launched into a round of political debates, since it's not possible for us all to gather without one. And finally, as people peeled off for bed, my dad told my sister Katrinka and me stories late into the night about his early days in the Navy when he served as a hospital corpsman in New York City, and the tragic fate of some of his closest friends there, who died in the Inchon Invasion in the Korean War.
The next day Jim, Susan, Emma and Grace started the drive back to North Carolina after all of us took a lunch time trip to the resort town of Pentwater and the Brown Bear. It was cold, but the lunch portions at the Brown Bear were huge, so we felt amply compensated.
|Dad and his "non-identical twin" brother, Bob who came from Wyoming. They were born on the same day, exactly 15 years apart.|
|Jean and Mary came all the way from France for the party. Here they're braving the cold in front of Lake Michigan in Pentwater with my dad.|