Saturday, August 1, 2009

Happy Birthday Sara

On this day 33 years ago while we were living in the far north Alberta town of High Level, Sara Louise joined our family. She was the 4th child - the middle child as it eventually turned out - and third daughter - the middle daughter also as it eventually turned out.

She was born in a little health centre on the edge of town. The morning after she was born I looked out the window of our room and saw a brown bear at the edge of the clearing! Her birth was exciting, in good ways and bad. For one thing, back in those days fathers weren't allowed in the delivery room and had to wait in the waiting room. Since it was such a little health centre whose staff didn't stand on ceremony, Lloyd was able to be there to witness the birth of his child for the first time. It was a remarkable experience for him and I still have the letter he wrote to me when he went home that night. I had an easy labor with Sara but when she was being born it was noticed that the cord was wrapped tightly around her neck so I had to stop pushing when her head was out so the doctor could cut the cord away from her neck. Then when she didn't breathe immediately we were so scared. I was so glad Lloyd was there with me. We waited forever it seemed to hear Sara's first cry and to be allowed to hold her. I remember when she was out and they told me she was a girl, my first words were, "We can't call her Michael". Our actual Michael was born a year and a half later. We had already chosen to call her Sara Louise, after a favorite aunt of mine. Luckily she was no worse for wear after her dramatic start, and quickly fit into the routine of our growing family.

Her first portrait at age 3

Sara always loved babies and dolls and wanted to be a mother. I love how she's so serious here.

This haircut caused me a lot of grief from both Sara and Amy, who had a similar one. I was so tired of having to do up long hair on four girls that I took them all to the beauty parlor and got their hair cut. To this day they bring this up whenever they want to bug me. I think she looks cute with her hair short. Compare it with the next year's picture...

Maybe they were right. She sure was cute in grade 4.

We moved to Nova Scotia when Sara was in kindergarten and lived there for 7 years. It was a fun place to live. Sara loved the beach and on this cool spring day she showed her exuberance by doing the perfect cartwheel on the sand of Lawrencetown Beach.

While in Nova Scotia we had our last baby, Emily. Sara bugged us for a long time to have a baby sister for her and thinks that she was responsible for Emily being here. That's Sara in white at the far left of the picture. She appointed herself Emily's special sister and they're still very close today.
Sara has had lots of birthdays over the years, with pictures to prove it, but the most memorable is one I don't have pictures of. In 1985 we took a road trip during the summer from Nova Scotia, through the US as far as Utah, then up to Alberta and back east to NS. During the course of the trip, we had Sara's birthday. I remember she wanted a panda for that birthday (her 9th). We stopped at a store someplace in the Colorado mountains and let her choose her gift. Then went to another store and bought her a birthday cake. We stopped along the side of the road in the wilderness and sang happy birthday to her and ate the cake. Different, but fun.
Sara liked to travel and when she was older and on her own she took a couple of trips: one to Hawaii with a girlfriend where she had loads of fun, and once in 2000 she and Amy went to New York City for an adventure. Some adventure - they spent every last cent they had and ended up sleeping in an airport (Denver I think), famished and tired and penniless, on their way home. They did enjoy New York though. The picture below shows how prominent the Twin Towers were on the NYC skyline. Hard to believe they're not still there.

Sara had been working since she was 15 at the Photo Gift World and quickly assumed a lot of responsibility for the retail outlet. Her ambition, enthusiasm and drive attracted the attention of the company's owner, Quincey Hardwicke-Brown and before too long they were an item. It wasn't long before he was a regular guest at family functions and a fellow golfer for Lloyd.

At Amy's wedding reception.

Sara and Quincey were married in September 2002 in our backyard, with a large lavish reception at a downtown hotel.

In November 2003 her first daughter, Charlie, was born, followed in December 2004 by their son Max. She had her hands full with two babies. Their second daughter, Eloise was born in November 2007 and noone will be surprised if there's another one next spring or summer.
Sara expanded their retail outlet to include a portrait studio specializing in children's portraits. She's an excellent self-taught photographer and produces beautiful portraits. The company has grown remarkably over the years and we have a ready supply of portraits of our grandchildren.

Charlie, Max and Elly

The Hardwicke-Brown family, June 2008.
Sara has been a joy in our family. She is feisty and spirited but also very giving and generous with her time and talents. She understands people and what makes them tick and is continually studying and learning to improve herself and the life of her family. I'm proud to call her my daughter. Happy birthday Sara